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Look into my Eyes, Not my Screen!

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Tablets, smartphones and cloud computing, oh my! Five tips for better use of mobile tools when meeting with clients.

When it comes to mobile technology, the numbers tell half the story. Apple sold over 25 million iPhones last year. IDC estimates 166,000,000 tablets will sell worldwide in 2013. Even modest e-readers are selling faster than ever. Take a walk through an airport or drive down a highway (!) to witness how consumed we’ve become with our little, mobile screens.

Oh, and the apps, right? Hundreds of thousands of tiny little programs that make our products sing, dance, store, share and spend our way to a better life. We love apps – at least fifty of them, or so – that make our day easier. Who can beat the price, either? Free, mostly, or a few dollars. Long live the app!

Now comes the hard part: If everyone’s looking at their screens, how can we do the most important part of our job: Earning trust with our clients. Which, as you might suspect, involves looking someone in the eye. 

Sales is pretty simple: build rapport, identify a need, demonstrate how you fill that need. The rest is pricing and process, which are meaningless if the first parts don’t go well. Price and process look great on screen – slides, pdf’s, videos to explain and entice – but we must be careful not to disconnect ourselves from the person too early by injecting our tablets.

Even an iPad doesn’t work without a human touch.

That’s why we’ve collected five simple ideas to help you use mobile tools to enhance your sales activities, without getting in the way of making contact with the person who will eventually shake your hand.

  1. Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. The most important thing about using any mobile technology with clients is timing. Depending upon your sales cycle, you need to position technology at the right moment, for the right reason. For example, a real estate broker might want to have an iPad in-hand, ready to reference, when taking existing clients to see homes. Referencing the database, photos, maps and videos in real-time enhances their ability to explain features and benefits of each home. On the other hand, a salesperson might want to reserve their tablet until the end of the process, at an open house: Greeting prospective buyers with a smile and kind words to put them at ease will make it more likely they’ll take their time touring the home. They can tap their email address into your tablet on the way out, when it’s a barrier to leaving (not entering). The same holds true for similar retail experiences, as well.
  2. A Picture, Not a Thousand Words. The last thing customers want to do is read lots of words. Any presentation apps or content should contain few or no words. Pictures, videos and graphics that convey a scene or emotional appeal create a backdrop for a discussion. Some things are better said than read. Images should be full screen and easy to understand. Skip screenshots, especially if they’re small or fuzzy:  Go online entirely if you must show a web tool.
  3. Less is. You know the ending to that one, right? Which proves the point. You don’t need to fill up the time together with endless slides, videos, content, and use of apps. Use the tablet only where most important to enhance a message or meaning. Otherwise, talk. Maybe even use a pencil and paper, too.
  4. Be One with The Folder. Before meeting with a client, put everything you might possibly need in one folder. Think ahead to any slides, pictures, charts, videos, forms, whatever you might need to reference, and collect it into a single folder. Nothing is more distracting to customers – and damaging to your conversation’s momentum – than suddenly having to hunt-swipe-tap your way through multiple screens to find something to reinforce your discussion.
  5. Let their fingers do the talking. The beautiful thing about tablets is their simplicity, even for novices. Which also makes them perfect tools for getting customers involved. Launch your presentation or website or photo library, and hand over your tablet. Let the customer explore, while you sit back and watch. Take mental notes about what catches their attention, then adjust your conversation to incorporate it. No matter what you sell, giving customers your tablet during your time together also conveys a subtle message: To earn their trust, give some of yours, first.

Your “presentation” isn’t your “presentation materials” simply arranged all shiny and neat on a tablet. Make sure you can create a conversation, listening, verifying and then conveying solutions without materials (this holds true for paper, too!). Then think of the right times and right types of content your tablet might display, to enhance the discussion. First arrange your thoughts, then arrange your tools, and you’ll ultimately arrange the best experience for your clients every time.

Are you using a Tablet in your client meetings and sales presentations? We’d love to hear how – drop us a comment below!

 
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