More and more people are trying to use iPads during their sales meetings, but often get stuck with just email, CRM, and maybe a brochure or pdf presentation, none of which is really going to rock your audience’s world. So, to change all that, we’re going to run down a list of some of the best apps to use to help you revolutionise the way that you conduct sales meetings with the iPad playing an integral part in the conversation.

Sadly, this doesn’t include either Angry Bird, or cat videos on YouTube. Sorry, but they’re just not going to work. Also, these recommendations make the assumption that you know to ditch bullet points and use visual animated sequences. If you don’t, check out these free advanced PowerPoint training and presentation skills resources.

Here are our thoughts:

Or you can read the information below if you prefer.

Compelling presentations: SlideShark

OK, let’s now get into some of the apps that you should be using, starting with a core presentation tool. You can’t just put your traditional text-based PowerPoint slides onto your iPad as your audience will not only fall asleep, but also really struggle to see small text shaking around. By using visuals you’re not only providing more compelling material, but also a clearer viewing experience, as people will actually be able to make out the visuals that you have. If you use plenty of animation, your audience will be drawn in to your story, giving you a good deal of control over what they absorb.

SlideShark is really the only way to achieve these kinds of things on your iPad. It is the best app that supports full PowerPoint graphics and animations (I know, you’d expect MS Office for iPad to do it, but it’s not a great viewing experience), and the ability to easily navigate around the slides in your presentations, or the presentations in your folder is ideal for creating an interactive, visual conversation with your prospect.

Sketching and annotation: Bamboo Paper

You can create a truly interactive sales meeting by using sketching and annotation to make a specific argument live with your prospect. Draw a graph to demonstrate your ideas for the prospect’s particular challenges and what they might get out of it, or show how other solutions or options might work for them giving a relative idea of what kind of benefit they will achieve with your proposed solution. Doing all of this interactively with the prospect on your iPad means that you can communicate far more clearly. Better yet, physically give them the iPad so that they can add to your sketches, and co-create the story being told. You can get so much more insight into their needs, and they feel like they’re able to steer the conversation much more directly to something that will be relevant and useful.

Bamboo Paper is really good for this, as it allows you to draw anything you like freehand using a variety of pens and colours, but also import images and annotate over the top of them which works really well if you have something complex to explain that it would be too time-consuming to draw from scratch.

Polling and interactivity: Poll Daddy

A great interactive tool that the iPad offers, is the ability to ask questions or promote responses to surveys and polls. This approach is not only useful for basic fact finding for the individual prospect in question which can steer the conversation more easily down the right track in a way that doesn’t feel like a chore, but more interestingly the information gathered from many different polls can be aggregated together to give you useful insight into your customer base. It’s worth looking at, as these results can help inform a whole host of things across the company, such as sales messaging, targeted marketing, and customer support. You can also build these surveys around specific sales methodologies, so that you always follow the right approach and don’t miss anything vital in the heat of the moment.

I’m going to recommend PollDaddy as your go-to survey tool, as it produces some neat, easy to navigate response pages, but, as it’s so reliant on the non-iPad functionality, it may be worth looking at some of the other options to see whether the entire package does it for you.

Brochures, specifications & documents: iBooks

At this point, if you’re following along carefully you may, quite rightly exclaim: “What’s this? Documents on the iPad? But I thought you said no text!” You’d be right, but you might enter a part of the conversation that requires an in-depth look at some technical details. Remember that in a meeting, it’s fine to allow your prospect to read something for a minute or two, so why not have a collection of brochures in pdf form that you bring in on your iPad and then hand over to your prospect for them to read briefly? Just don’t hold the iPad yourself and talk whilst they’re trying to read – that won’t work. In fact, why not use this as a basis for sketching and annotations too, potentially highlighting elements of the technical detail that are important to the prospect, or how they work, or what value they deliver.

The standard pdf reader on iPads is iBooks, and it works very nicely if you have a list of brochures, spec sheets, price lists, or whatever you need to access, that you can put into different folders, or collections, to make things easier. If you want to go a bit further and annotate on these pdfs, then you’ll have to look elsewhere, and iAnnotate is a good one, as you can draw and sketch all over the pdfs that you have in your library, which for spec sheets and some brochures can really help to bring them to life.

Videos & animations: AVPlayerHD

Videos are another great tool to have at your disposal during a sales conversation, with the ability to share a minute or two of video often being key to help explain complex ideas, or make an emotional connection to generate some real excitement about your prospect’s chosen topic of conversation. Having a selection of videos available, perhaps related to different implementations of your products, or maybe showing case study testimonials, can all work really well, when used in the right way.

To play video on the iPad is a little tricky, as Apple gets sensitive about giving you free reign over a potentially very lucrative source of revenue. The standard Videos app doesn’t really work as it’s quite restrictive, but AVPlayerHD is great. The interface is clean and slick and you can easily access the video you want from your library. Playback is also very smooth and great quality, so you can jump into the video that you want quickly and navigate around it without any lag too What’s nice is that it plays pretty much any video format that you care to mention, so you’re not restricted to the .mp4 or .mov formats that the iPad natively supports, giving you much more freedom in what you show, or reducing the amount of time to convert your videos to an iPad friendly format. Now it is a paid app costing $2.99, which often puts people off, but there aren’t any free apps that are quite as good. One option is the now restored VLC player, which is probably the best free video app, but it’s a little trickier to navigate around, slower to respond, and I’ve found it to be less than brilliant when you just want something to play – you really can’t afford loading time on an iPad with a prospect waiting for the technology to catch up. I think it has something to do with the decoding systems used, but needless to say, it’s OK, but not quite as good as AVPlayerHD.

Coordinating content: Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.

Having all of this content available at your fingertips (literally!) means that wherever your audience wants to go, you can join them. If you have a series of short presentation snippets – perhaps based around a set of different value messages, such as cost saving, productivity, or flexibility – then if they tell you that they’re under real budgetary pressure, you can jump to the appropriate (cost) snippet and tell them things that they care about.

The article is about seven vital iPad apps, and I’ve cheated a bit by offering some alternatives, so it’s up to at least eight so far. This next bit is really cheating. Sorry. There are a couple of different approaches to take, but Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, or any of the other similar services provide great apps for this purpose, as you can store pretty much any file, of any size and access it when you need it. The neat thing about most of them as cloud-based content solutions is that you can access your content from any device, anywhere, which is great when you’re on the road. However, you can also download the content for off-line access. This means that they really can be a single source for all content whether your online or not. It’s not just that they store content in a single place (although this is pretty useful), it’s the fact that most have integrated with so many useful applications that makes them such a great tools, so you can link all of your content to the appropriate app. It is a bit of a cheat not recommending one of these, but most companies now have an account with one of them in various flavours, so the decision may well have been made for you, and each offers different features outside of the iPad environment that might sway you. The key thing is, try to make use of them and pull in lots of different content as part of your conversations.

Planning conversations: Mindjet Maps

So now you have all of these different pieces of content to use, combined with a selection of great apps to share them with. What’s really important is that you don’t get lost. A good way to ensure that you’re meeting goes well is to plan out the kind of conversations that you’re likely to have. Start by thinking about what your audience is most likely to be interested in – what are they doing now? How do you add value and how can you get them to recognize that value? What do you want them to do both as a direct result of your conversation and over the longer term? And don’t forget to think about how you differentiate from your competitors, and what your audience’s perception of that difference is. Answering questions like these will help you frame the content and topics that you need to cover.

A great way to plan all this out is to use a mind mapping tool. We like Mindjet Maps, which is a free app that gives you a pretty neat mind map. It’s fairly easy to use, guiding you through all the steps of creating a mind map. You can create main themes, sub-topics, and content for each section, as well as create links between topics, so that you can plan a potential route through all the content. The mind map is good as it allows you to see everything in one go, rather than trying to plan something out in a Word document, or PowerPoint presentation, where you’re somewhat limited to a linear flow. The app also links to the much more powerful desktop version too, in which you have a lot more control and loads of other functions, so it’s worth investigating. But if you just want something to help you plan it all out, then this is a great little app and well worth trying out.

Seamless shifting

This isn’t an app, but remember that within your meetings, you need to be flexible and tailor your content to the needs of your audience. A great tip to help you seamlessly move between your different apps is to use a four finger swipe, either left or right, to move between apps by turning on the multitasking gestures control in Settings. There is no one app that does it all, but a combination of them can be very powerful, meaning that you can show your prospects what they need to see to be convinced to buy from you. And if you need help to create it all, there’s an App for that too.

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Richard Goring

Director

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  1. Image of Namiko Namiko says:

    Hi Richard,
    Please consider adding iPad presentation app “Ruri ” to your list.

    Ruri is another presentation app on iPad for anyone who want to make beautiful presentations quickly.
    To make a beautiful presentation, Ruri puts words and images in suitable places automatically and provides background movies.
    Watch Ruri on move: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPfCxyFvJ6E

    Please check this out. We’re planning to provide Ruri for free until 21st March.

    Ruri on AppStore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ruri-create-presentations/id959336813?mt=8
    Our website: http://www.martianstalk.com

  2. Image of Ben Ben says:

    If you’re looking for a quick way of putting interactive audience polls within existing PowerPoint presentations then checkout http://www.participoll.com – uses audience members’ mobile devices to collect votes.

  3. Image of Adrian Adrian says:

    Hi, I stumbled on here looking for an app that would help me make a video presentation like this with animations and being able to illustrate in a number of ways… Any suggestions for something that would make an animated 20min video presentation?

    • Image of Joby Blume Joby Blume says:

      Well, PowerPoint can do it but takes a bit of expertise. If you don’t want to learn complex software, maybe take a look at our review of VideoScribe?

  4. Image of Luise Bianchi Luise Bianchi says:

    Hi Richard,
    I wanted to add to your list also JustPerfect and the related office suite from morepaths.com.

    I found it quite useful and straight forward for my sales meetings with my clients.

    Here some references: http://www.morepaths.com

  5. Image of Filip Filip says:

    Hi Richard,

    Unfortunately SlideShark is going out of business by end of this year. It was and still is the only tool to correctly display Powerpoint presentations on iPads.

    If you know of any alternatives – please post it on your blog, I am sure it will be very, very useful.

    Also, I suggest you add CrescendoApp.com to your list. It is the best sales presentation tool for mobile teams that use Sharepoint, Google Drive, Box, etc to manage their content.

    • Image of Richard Goring Richard Goring says:

      Hi Filip, yes, you’re right. However, the PowerPoint app – now on all platforms – is a great tool to show PowerPoint presentations. It incorporates all the animations, graphics, transitions, and interactive elements (triggers and hyperlinks) that you can build in PowerPoint, so is our go to app now.

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