Can the Apple Watch Revolutionize the Sales Organization?

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This is a guest post from James Pember, CEO and co-founder of Sparta, an enterprise sales gamification platform.

Last week Apple unveiled their latest invention – the Apple Watch. For all intents and purposes, Apple have reinvented the laptop, the tablet and the phone already, so it’s not a long shot to assume that they can also reinvent the wristwatch.

Now, I’m not here to debate whether or not the Apple Watch will be a big consumer success and hold it’s own with their Macbooks and iPhones, as I’m not knowledgeable enough about the marketplace. However, I am truly interested in how the Apple Watch – and all wearables – will affect businesses and, more specifically, sales organizations.

As someone that spends his entire day thinking about how technology can motivate and drive performance on the sales floor, the Apple Watch has got me thinking about the impact wearables can have on all of us at work.

Data on Your Wrist

Right off the bat, I’m a fan of the Apple Watch and what they’re doing with wearables. However, do I think every salesperson will rush out and buy one to help them sell more? No. But I do think wearables, in general, open up a truly interesting discussion about how other platforms can help engage salespeople and drive performance, engagement and excitement on the sales floor.

Betterworks, an enterprise goal setting platform wrote a great post about the rise of “quantified self” at work, and I agree with a lot of what they noted. Apps like Runkeeper, Lifesum and Nike+ help us to eat better and be more healthy and have become incredibly popular. Those same triggers  – notifications, goals, badges and social proof – can also be used to help drive better results at work. We’re already proving that with our enterprise sales gamification platform Sparta.

The opportunity wearables present us, is to drive even harder on those motivational levers. Instead of opening an email, or an app – those triggers can be delivered to us, wherever we are, 24/7.

An Unnecessary Device?

On the other hand, Gartner analysts were the first industry insiders to hit back at the Apple Watch and its potential business use cases. They thought that the “Apple Watch Looks Cool, Lacks Compelling Use Cases for Salespeople”. Their point being, no salesperson is going to use the watch with a CRM like Salesforce. This is absolutely valid, but that’s also not what the device is intended for. The interface is clearly designed for lighter engagement, while the iPhone remains the main interface for more complex tasks. You’re never going to send an offer, negotiate the terms and sign a contract via your watch. It’s clearly a complex job that requires a higher level of computing power (and more typing) than is possible on the Apple Watch.

The Case for Sales Use

Despite these logical objections, I do believe that the Apple Watch opens up some interesting use cases for work, and sales in particular.

Specifically, I think the Apple Watch can revolutionize sales management, sales gamification and sales motivation:

1. Too many sales organizations don’t distribute results, recognition and praise in real-time. Salespeople are triggered and motivated by recognition – wearables provide a way to easily distribute feedback, results, praise or recognition – in real-time. Unlike an email, you know the notification will be read, and consumed right away.

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2. Wearables can potentially provide an easier, and more frictionless method of entering data, into our workplace applications. Now, again, I don’t see my sales reps entering a new opportunity into Salesforce via the watch, but I can see them logging calls or meetings via the watch. Just as logging a run is made easy with Runkeeper, and logging your lunch is made easier via MyFitnessPal or Lifesum, logging activities could be made far easier with the watch. Platforms like Sparta could make use of this easy logging to help drive higher adoption of our own product, and  also of other business or sales-related technology.

3. Wearables could potentially foster an increased accountability and transparency inside a sales organization. We already know that transparency holds sales reps accountable to their actions and improves results. Wearables such as the Apple Watch provide a simple and direct line of communication. Want to congratulate John on his latest deal, or poke fun at Amanda because you overtook her in the monthly sales competition? A notification directly through to a wearable is far more likely to get a fast reaction than an email.

Because of these arguments, Salesforce has already jumped on board and introduced their two Apple Watch apps.

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This example from Salesforce1 is brilliant. Instead of bothering a busy manager with an email or phone call, the “discount approval” is presented clearly to that manager on the watch. A simple call to action means the request disturbs the manager for a few seconds only, and then everyone can move on and get back to work.

With Salesforce’s app looking so promising, I’m positive the other big players in the market will soon follow suit. Plenty of apps will fail, just as they did with initial efforts on the smartphone, but we’ll all learn quickly. I’m positive that wearables will change the way we work, just as the smartphone did. Yes, the use cases aren’t all crystal clear yet, but they will be. Great developers and product people will make sure of that.

The counter-argument for all of this, is that “we already have these apps in our phones”. Whilst true, I distinctly remember people saying back in 2008 that “we already have these apps in our email and on our laptops”. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

About James Pember

James Pember is the CEO and co-founder of Sparta, an enterprise sales gamification platform that helps sales teams drive organic revenue growth and stronger sales culture. You can follow him on Twitter at @jamesepember.
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