Sales on the Go with Your iPad
For years, REALTORS® have worked to increase access to important sales information while on the go. First it was laptops, although many models can weigh nearly 10 pounds – too heavy to lug around all day.
The next step was to cram everything into their smartphones. However, the tiny screens work against using them all day, not to mention trying to show that data to a client.
Thank goodness, then, for the emergence of tablet computing, which, in the form of Apple's iPad, combines the best of both worlds. Better still, it improves upon both.
The iPad is a salesperson's dream. It's powerful. A fast processor coupled with a large 32 or 64 GB hard drive makes the iPad the first truly versatile mobile platform.
With a brilliant 11-inch screen, it makes it the ideal customer presentation tool, too. As a presentation tool, it could serve as an ordinary piece of paper or like a television in the palm of your hands. Throw in WiFi and cellular internet access, bluetooth connectivity to printers and a portable keyboard, plus a full 10 hours of battery power, and you have the ideal sales companion.
And then there are the goodies. The iPad 2 includes a front- and rear-facing digital camera. So you can take high-resolution photos, record videos and – finally – do video conferencing just like they used to in Star Trek!
It's also completely geo-aware, which means most applications (apps) know where you are standing on the planet and can instantly reference local information – from the nearest coffee shop to recharge your day, to the closest new listing to show your buyer. Most of the time, you won't have to actually conduct a "search" using a real estate, travel or mapping app, because the iPad simply knows where you are and shows you the relevant nearby data.
Of course, what really makes the iPad a selling platform are the variety and sophistication of more than 80,000 apps you can download. Many apps are free. The vast majority are a dollar or two. Some premium apps cost $20 or $30. So building a library of top software programs won't break the bank.
Plus, you can search and download an app from anywhere you can connect to the web, which means you can solve many problems by seeking an app without ever connecting to a computer.
The business case for using iPad is simple yet powerful. Imagine the ways the iPad can help you deliver results for your clients:
- Basic productivity tools – email, calendar, contact database and photo library – are preloaded. So you're ready to connect with your prospects and sphere of influence within two minutes of unpacking the iPad. With an 11-inch screen, you'll soon find managing your daily tasks and communications to be far superior to your smartphone.
- Download a property program – such as the REALTOR.com app – and you won't have to "browse the web" to find data. One tap of the finger launches the program, and a second tap instantly finds "homes nearby" so you can show buyers inventory instantly. It also works nicely to show sellers competing properties nearby. Because the iPad keeps up with you as you move, it will constantly update the nearby listings, making it the perfect showing companion when out with buyers in the car.
- The DropBox app lets you carry the same files you have on your laptop and smartphone on your iPad by synchronizing up to 2 GB of data (free) over the web. Essentially, you are storing files, pictures, documents, spreadsheets, videos and anything else you might need to have handy up "in the cloud." DropBox will keep all of your devices synchronized so you never have an "I left it on the computer at work" moment. Plus you can share a file or folder with your clients, making it instantly easy to share pictures, listing data and PDFs with them while on the go. No more flash drives or large email attachments.
- Use the high-resolution camera to document listings you show buyers as you go, or make a video recording of your tour together. Then share them by email or DropBox to make sure your buyers have a visually compelling record of your property tour together and can share it with their family and friends, too.
- Capture visitors to your open houses with a "sign in" app like OpenHomePro. Not only do you record their contact information, but you can provide them the property information, conduct a basic survey of housing needs and even share content with them on social networks like Facebook. Following up with your open house visitors has never been easier.
- Stay connected to your social networks with any number of apps, like Hootsuite or Flipboard, both of which transform your mobile social experience into beautiful, large-screen formats. Of course, Apple's Safari browser is built in, so you can also go directly to your social media websites for a desktop-style experience.
- Take notes and synchronize them with all of your computing devices withEvernote. Similar to DropBox, this handy free app lets you create electronic "notes" to capture almost anything, including text, screen shots, web pages, photos and even audio recordings. Then synchronize them to your smartphone and laptop over the web. You can categorize notes by tags and arrange them into "piles" of related content. Evernote essentially replaces traditional database storage with something we're all familiar with – the sticky note format – in an updated fashion that takes advantage of the iPad’s simple interface.
- Finally, at $10 Keynote is a must-buy program for most real estate professionals. Whether you already have a bunch of PowerPoints (which Keynote reads instantly) or you’re just getting ready to create presentations, you can transform the iPad into a mini sales display to get your point across to clients. If you struggled to do electronic presentations in the past because your laptop was too clunky, the iPad will make them a joy to create, carry and conduct.
If you're worried about learning a new computing platform, don't be. There's really nothing to learn on the iPad. There's no searching for files and programs, because they are all there on your home screens. All settings are handled on one screen. There are only two buttons on the entire device: Power and Home.
Backing up is a breeze; just synchronize with your computer's iTunes program (via cord) or save your content into any cloud-storage app like DropBox. You don't even need to carry a charger with you all day, because the iPad easily goes for 10 hours, even when delivering presentations and showing videos.
Does the iPad completely replace your laptop? Not entirely. At least not yet. There are probably some computing tasks, such as editing video or managing client data, that you'll still need a laptop to handle. But is it the perfect day-to-day companion? You bet!
Once you start carrying around an iPad, you'll probably never leave it behind. It's probably the most important "must have" for real estate agents since the digital camera or smartphone. And give iPad some time; it’s probably going to replace both of those pretty soon!
Matthew Ferrara is CEO of Matthew Ferrara & Company, an international real estate consulting, management, strategy and sales organization. For more than two decades, Ferrara has been helping top-performing brokerages to transform their marketing, technology and customer service strategies to create loyal clients and lead the competition in the next generation of real estate business. Learn more at www.matthewferrara.com.
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