While it is typical for employees to bring tablet computers into the workplace, it’s a different situation when customers influence the use of iPads in business as the preferred method of engagement for sales and marketing teams.
Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Plantronics has been making hands-free business and consumer audio products for more than 50 years. But it is adopting a youthful stance when it comes to iPad. Plantronics is one of the larger companies to adopt iPad internally thanks in part to initial interactions with customers looking to synchronize their iPads with the various Bluetooth-enabled products that Plantronics manufactures.
Ever since the launch of the original iPad in 2010, customers have been eager to use their Plantronics devices with the iPad for hands-free voice controls, audio playback, and video conferencing. Sales and marketing groups were fielding call after call about the pairing, while Plantronics’ “Sounding Board” discussion threads are still robust with tips and tricks.
While the original iPad only supported Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) standard, subsequent iPad releases added Hands Free Profile (HFP) standards making it easier to connect. Currently, Plantronics products such as the Voyager-Pro, BackBeat, and M-series devices synchronize with iPad through a Bluetooth connection.
But it was during sales meetings and marketing presentations that Plantronics realized the power of iPad and tablet computers. The speed of opening up the iPad versus booting a laptop meant customer questions were answered faster and with more flair, said Jenifer Salzwedel, director of marketing programs at Plantronics.
“When customers ask a question, you have their attention,” Salzwedel said. “That’s a moment of truth. The faster we can answer the better for maintaining that mindshare.”
Another key factor in choosing iPads was the array of mobile apps available for the tablet, Salzwedel added.
“Our salespeople are no longer just presenting PowerPoint slides from their laptops,” she said. They are holding more natural conversations with customers and they want those conversations to be fluid, tapping into many resources real-time rather than canned content in a PowerPoint deck. They have been armed with iPads and smartphones, giving them access to key tools and information at their fingertips.”
The company currently has deployed nearly 1,000 iPads to its sales and marketing leadership. This includes company teams at headquarters and regional offices in 20 countries including major facilities in China, England, Mexico and the Netherlands.
Partner in iPad: Savo Group
Plantronics’ success with its iPad deployment came in part because of its partnership with Savo Group, Salzwedel said.
While sales tools of a decade ago meant continually updating materials long before customer meetings, Savo’s “Mobile” platform juggles more than 5,000 Plantronics documents and media assets for continual updates to sales pitches and marketing presentations.
An added benefit of using Savo in its customer outreach has been the ability to gather sales and marketing materials using various methods.
Users are employing SAVO in unique ways. Salzwedel said,
“Three of our top Savo sales users led a discussion panel at our worldwide sales meeting,” Salzwedel said. “We’re not forcing adoption in one specific way, we’re allowing users to uncover the ways that enhance their productivity rather than get in the way of it.”
One of the sales team uses her iPad and Savo Mobile to customize documents and share them with customers. “Being able to react to customer needs quickly is a big win for her,” Salzwedel noted.
Another salesperson spends a lot of time in Microsoft Windows Outlook email program fielding customer questions. “He accesses Savo from within the Outlook app, finding content and passing it on to customers almost instantaneously,” she said.
The third salesperson worked with Savo to set up a personal tag to identify the content that’s specifically relevant to her.
“Now, instead of subscribing to a vast amount of content, she sees just what she needs on her own personal page,” Salzwedel said.
Plantronics says it has deployed Savo software for both its internal sales and channel resellers. The rollout began with the internal sales teams, then branching out to its channel partners a couple months later.