Brian Brock, sales manager for Hullco Exteriors, a Tennessee window and siding company, says he recently got a call from one of his sales consultants saying, “I used my iPad today and I made a sale.”

During the past year Hullco replaced its paper pitch book with iPads — Apple's tablet computer — loaded with a PowerPoint presentation and various apps. Brock says that the size, weight, and functionality of the tablet computers, compared with conventional laptops, was what appealed most to sales reps.

GAME CHANGER Hullco is one of a handful of home improvement companies to incorporate tablet computers into its sales process. Besides steering through a presentation about the company and its products, the tablet computers can store any number of before-and-after photos. Sales consultants can also access price sheets and price books on a free app that links to online storage.

But the biggest advantage, Brock says, is the credibility it adds to the sales presentation, both for tech-savvy homeowners and for those who aren't. “Some are fascinated because it's still fairly new,” Brock says. “A lot of people have seen them on TV but have never held one.”

Sales reps at Yankee Home Improvement, in Northampton, Mass., use iPads to access separate roofing, window, and radiant barrier presentations. The tablet computer is now standard issue. “We've been using it since the week it came out,” owner Ger Ronan says. Adding that instead of talking about exterior sheathing, it's far more credible when a salesman uses an app from a magazine to show what it looks like and how it's installed.

Compared with traditional laptops or the binders associated with home improvement sales calls, tablet computers, wielded in the palm of the hand, are bright and fast. Yankee Home Improvement's reps use theirs to connect via Wi-Fi to manufacturer websites, the company's YouTube videos, the REMODELING magazine Cost vs. Value app, and much else that helps make a convincing case to buy.

“It's a complete and total game changer,” Ronan says.

PRESENTATION QUALITY Brock says that a tablet computer in and of itself won't wow prospects unless a company can “build a great PowerPoint” that sales reps are trained to use with ease. Salespeople still carry their window sample, he says, and also bring along a hard copy of the presentation in case something goes wrong with the iPad.

Yankee Home Improvement has dispensed with its paper system altogether. “When [reps] go in with these huge binders, the homeowner thinks: ‘How long is this going to take?'” Ronan says. “[Now] the only paper is the contract.”