Handing the iPad back and forth during a meeting is a great way to ensure engagement. It’s a far cry from having a passive audience getting bored to tears as a presenter talks at them for half an hour. Actually inviting your prospects to show you what they mean, to share their ideas, and to actually engage in a real visual conversation is a better way to sell.

Only use the techniques below when it’s relevant to do so. As with any sort of questioning in sales – if you ask too many, you seem like you don’t know what you are talking about. By all means hand over the iPad – but make sure that you present enough information of value to be seen as informative and relevant.

Sketching and annotation

Sketching and annotation provide a compelling way of making a point in real-time.  You can sketch to demonstrate ideas, or to show how solutions might work for them. However, not all sales people will be confident at sketching something from scratch; in this situation, consider annotating pre-made or half-drawn diagrams. Labelling a graph, or writing over a photograph can work really well to engage your audience. Annotating, instead of sketching, still helps to raise energy levels, and feels very ‘real’ and personal.

More powerfully you can hand the iPad to the prospect and they can complete a diagram, or mark their own situation onto a pre-built chart. Some prospects will want to hold the iPad and sketch things out to explain their situation for you – which is a great way to identify what they are after or where you might add value.

Sketching allows you to create truly a truly personalised message for your prospect, which can be an exceedingly persuasive tool.

You should try to make sure that any sketches or annotations are relatively simple, so that they are quick to do and help to keep your conversation natural and flowing.

Sketches shouldn’t be overused, with perhaps one interactive sketch used every 10 to 20 minutes, to provide the right level of interaction, depending upon the pace of the meeting.

Bamboo Paper is our favourite app for sketching. It allows you to draw freehand using a variety of pens and colours, and also import images (for example photos or diagrams) and annotate over the top of them.

Polls and surveys

When selling on the iPad sales reps can ask questions in a slightly different way from usual by using polls and surveys. These can link to online databases, so that once the iPad goes online the results are saved and compiled.

For companies that use a particular sales methodology (and let’s face it, they all involve asking questions to uncover needs – even if more recent models like The Challenger Sale emphasise the need to provide insight too) surveys can be built around questioning techniques. The questions presented on the iPad ought to map across perfectly to the sales methodology that is in use.

Surveys are a useful way of fact-finding, but also an interesting way of creating further data to help with sales messaging – e.g. to tell future prospects that 89% of those questioned also agreed with them.

We suggest that your prospect would typically hold the iPad to complete the survey.

Surveys can provide a more interesting and faster alternative – from the perspective of the prospect – to being asked dozens of questions at the start of a meeting, before then being forced to sit through a long presentation.

We like PollDaddy for this, as it works well and produces nice and clear surveys, but there are alternatives.

ROI calculators

ROI calculators can be a great tool to use on the iPad. Present a list of variables and options for your prospect to fill in, so that they can ‘see for themselves’ how they would benefit from your proposed solution.

Hand over the iPad and let your prospect select options and type in numbers. Then when they click calculate, a payback period and return on investment can be calculated, displayed, and possibly graphed for visual impact. So, BrightCarbon might ask prospects to estimate how many people they have selling with iPads, how often those people present, average deal size, current win rates, margin on each deal, and so on. The ROI calculator would show how better sales tools would quickly deliver a return.

ROI Calculators can be created as native apps, or using HTML5. These calculators can demonstrate the returns that a prospect could expect if they chose your solution.

ROI calculators really do help to persuade prospects to buy. Expect prospects to play around with the numbers, changing variables to interrogate the model behind the calculator. For that reason, remember that wild optimism undermines credibility.

If you’re looking to level-up even further, have a look at our seven favourite iPad apps to see what you can use to make your sales conversations better.

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Joby Blume


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