*The future is here*
Are you using the best tools when you present your services to your prospects? If you are a pond contractor, you make a lot of face-to-face visits to people’s homes to get new business. Do you have a planned and choreographed sales presentation, or do you wing it? Are you using photos and printed presentation materials? A laptop?
Well, guess what. If you are not moving your presentations to the iPad (or one of those other “pads”), you may be losing sales already – and if not, I would wager you will be soon. In the realm of sales presentations, Microsoft’s Powerpoint has dominated the corporate world of sales meetings for two decades. And it is used on laptops for small meeting presentations, but that is all changing for one-on-one and small-meeting selling. As revolutionary as Powerpoint was compared to slides or overhead projectors, the iPad is to the laptop or printed pitches.
To start with, when you bring out your iPad and turn it on, you have demonstrated that you are polished and successful. After all, they are not cheap. Your business must be successful if you can afford one, and it demonstrates that you are on the cutting edge of technology. This sends a positive message. Second, it is sexy and tactile. You are selling an emotion-driven product. Nobody needs a pond, but your client wants one. Thus, he or she is in want mode already. The iPad will resonate with this passion, all by itself.
When you power up, your client will see a clean screen, except for icons about you and your presentation to them. (Put all your other icons on later pages for a clean look).
When you start swiping through your portfolio of pond builds, you will see your prospects’ eyes light up. Now, I know you can get this reaction with Powerpoint on a laptop or from a photo browser, but the smooth elegance of swiping through pages or jumping to the small icons of photos to find just the one you want to show off is intoxicating. Easily zoom in to show details that demonstrate features the client has expressed interest in, and you’ll show your proficiency in delivering the goods.
From there, it is easy to ask questions and make notes right on the screen. You can take a photo of the spot where the pond should be located, and draw on the screen to show where things can go (getting affirmations from the client along the way). It is also easy to type in notes, showing that you are really hearing what the client is saying and that you will remember them later. There are many whiteboard apps out there so you can make the presentation more personal, and you can make it more visual by sketching out your ideas in an interactive brainstorming session.
To make this fast and easy, I would recommend picking up a Bluetooth keyboard from Logitech or Kensington. This makes typing as easy as it is on a laptop, adding to the wow factor once again.
When you feel the time is right, you can easily shift to your prepared sales presentation and make a proposal.
Some client’s visions won’t be fulfilled by any of your packaged pond plans, and if you want to venture into a more custom design, the iPad makes this easier than you may think. Imagine having the ability to a build custom quote for a client while sitting in their living room with live, online access to your product list – including prices, pictures, the works. One way to do this is with an app called Ring It Up. Quote-building is as fast and visual as it gets.
Ring It Up is particularly helpful if you are quoting a repair or upgrade of a pond, as you won’t be quoting a package like a new install. All materials and labor will be specific to that job.
Steve Henslee, owner of M&S Ponds and Supplies, described the process in a hypothetical quote situation:
“‘OK, I’m going to need a 6,000 Ultima, a liner this size, this is going to be this much labor.’ You literally can have the complete quote done, right there. Instead of, ‘Let me get this together for you later,’ you just drop the items right into your quote. “It’s pretty cool software,” Steve said.
In quoting a new pond build, you can start with one of your pre-planned packages; then upgrade for specific requests, add-ons, or needs that go beyond what is in your package; then provide a new quote. No more delays heading back to the office. Get the sale on the spot.
Once you build the quote, you can email the client a copy immediately, or print to their printer if they have wireless access you can use. New printers are adding this feature now, so be ready.
When adding your products to the program, you can scan the barcode (using the iPad’s camera) or bulk-load your items and customers.
“You can even put bin locations of where the item is located in your warehouse, so if you’ve got somebody new pulling product for you they know where to look,” Steve said. “They’ve even got a visual representation of it.” At this point he laughed, saying, “I should probably go to work for this company instead.”
Steve noted that “it takes a little bit of effort when you are first trying to learn it, but once you use it on a regular basis,” it becomes a very handy and powerful tool.
**Take the Internet with you**
The more expensive iPad has Internet connectivity built-in, but if you are like me, you will opt for the less-expensive version without it and connect with the tethering feature on your smartphone if available – or get a handy hot spot device. I picked up the Verizon unit, which fits nicely in the iPad case. Just turn it on before you head in to meet your client, and magically have Internet access when you need it.
Speaking of cases, the iPad is slippery and fragile if dropped. Don’t ask how I know that. Standard iPad cases won’t fit both the iPad and keyboard, so I found a super case that looks like a mini laptop bag from Case Logic. It not only protects the iPad, but also provides extra pockets for the charger, hot spot, a pad of paper, business cards, and more. And I think it looks cool, too.
Being prepared and quick on your feet makes it easier to get commitment and a deposit right then and there. With a simple credit card reader that plugs into the iPad, you can even run a credit card right on the spot. Sale closed!