Apple’s new iPad has technology-lovers buzzing, and Degelman’s Jason Faulkner says farm equipment salespeople should take heed.

Any sales team knows that efficiency and effectiveness are key to optimizing sales. Jason Faulkner, U.S. sales manager for Degelman, says that Apple’s new iPad has helped him greatly in advancing his iron-selling process.

The iPad is a tablet computer designed by Apple with a large Multi-Touch screen that allows users to access the Internet, email, videos, documents and numerous other applications (apps) with the touch of their finger. Filling in the gap between a laptop and a smartphone in both size and capabilities, the iPad is forging a new path not only in the world of technology but in the business realm as well.

Cleaning Up Sales Pitches

Faulkner purchased his iPad in early April at the time of its release and began integrating it into his sales pitches immediately. He was able to transfer all of his product and business literature that he traditionally carried around on paper onto the iPad.

“Instead of taking this 4-inch, 3-ring binder to a customer that looks like a mess of papers, I take the iPad so I know where everything is. I am able to e-mail literature we were just looking at right from it,,” says Faulkner.

While eliminating the need to carry around product catalogues or product warranties may seem like a literal load off one’s back, there’s something to say for having information to give to a farmer that they can keep after a visit.

Faulkner says, however, that everyone is so used to digital communication now that e-mailing product literature is nothing out of the ordinary. He pointed out that not having physical documents could instead prove to be an advantage for salespeople trying to make their way in with new clients.

“It’s another reason to communicate with them. If you drop off literature when you head in there you’ve made one stop, but what’s the next thing that you have to talk to them about?” Faulkner asks. He says that the communication following the initial meeting can be made possible simply by checking to see “whether or not they’ve got the literature you e-mailed to them.”

The Competitive Edge

Showing up to a visit with a brand-new iPad can also give farmers a sense that both the salesperson and the company are high-tech and forward-looking. Faulkner says that people instantly react to his iPad asking, “Oh, is this one of those new iPads? How does it work? What else do you do with it besides show videos?”

People have been so impressed with his presentations and sales pitches with the iPad that he says, “Of everyone I’ve shown the iPad to, I bet I could have sold 50 of them.”

This high-tech perception can help a salesperson gain an edge over the competition and the features of the iPad can reinforce this advantage. During sales visits farmers may ask how the product they are hearing about compares to the competition. With access to competitors’ logistics and videos on the Internet at the tap of a finger, a salesperson can easily dispel a farmer’s concerns about choosing the wrong product without hesitation.

Charged and Ready

Although the ease of accessing documents and the Internet changed Faulkner’s sales approach, he says that its usefulness in place of a computer helped out his business the most. “The biggest advantage of the iPad over any type of computer — even if it’s a laptop computer — is the startup,” he says. “You don’t need to have it started up when you walk in. You can go into a customer, turn it on and its going.”

For dealership salespeople, this feature, along with the iPad’s long battery-life — about 10 hours of web surfing and video, or 1 month on standby — opens up new possibilities for days packed full of visits to farms and fields. Salespeople using the iPad would not have to worry about whether or not they will be able to show farmers all the literature and videos that they want to before their laptop’s battery dies.

As a marketing tool, the iPad has the distinct advantage of enticing farmers with videos and images. Literature can answer many of farmers’ questions, but seeing a product in action has an undeniable effect as does watching tutorials about how to use, adjust or maintain a product. Although laptops taken on sales trips can provide video and images as well, the iPad’s size and weight allows for a less cumbersome experience that farmers could hold in their own hands.

Even though Faulkner uses the iPad to show dealers his web site quite often, he uses it mostly to show video because of a pre-installed YouTube app that takes users directly to the site. However, Faulkner suggests salespeople consider storing some videos on the iPad itself.

“The nice thing about having them loaded right on the iPad is that you don’t have to use your Internet connection,” he says.

Potential Issues

Faulkner’s suggestion brings up a major consideration that farm equipment dealers should look into before purchasing an iPad: Internet access. If a salesperson is visiting a farmer at his home or in his field, connecting to Wi-Fi may be limited in some areas. One version of the iPad does, however, come with a 3G access to Internet available through a month-to-month data plan with AT&T that allows iPad user to connect to the Internet wherever AT&T coverage is available.

Besides Internet considerations, Faulkner says businesses should consider some of the iPad’s other shortcomings before making the investment. He points out that the iPad has not eliminated his need for a laptop or desktop computer to generate the literature and videos that he shows during sales pitches. Also, he says that the iPad’s inability to show flash animation and flash-generated video can limit the features of his company’s Web site that he is able to show to clients.

Before You iPad

When looking into purchasing an iPad, salespeople in the farm equipment industry need to recognize how they plan on using the iPad and determine how its options can best meet their needs.

For example, a variety of apps are available for the iPad that could cater directly to salespeople. Faulkner listed the KAYAK app as one of his favorites. The app allows users to quickly check airline ticket prices and purchase them at their lowest rate.

Other useful sales apps include Maps, which provides directions to farm locations with both satellite and street views; Tweetdeck, for salespeople looking for quick access to Twitter and other social media; Keynote, for salespeople who give presentations using slides and videos; Pages, an app that lets salespeople create product literature, such as reports and brochures, directly on the iPad; and Numbers, which salespeople can use to record data from product orders to service statistics in data charts and tables.

With prices starting at $499, Faulkner says the iPad is “definitely worth the price.” Though he hasn’t had the trendy tool long enough to see how its integration into his sales approach has changed his sales numbers, Faulkner isn’t shy about touting its effects on his business.

“I personally think every salesperson should have one,” he says.