BY RICK WEINBERG, CALIFORNIA BUSINESS JOURNAL
For 40 years, Wayne Huddleson has been a sales representative for Associated Packaging, a Tennessee-based company that specializes in packaging equipment and materials for products from food to electronics for huge retailers like Walmart and Target.
For nearly all four of those decades, Huddleson would trudge through manufacturers’ operating plants, one after another, carrying stacks of collateral he would show company Presidents, CEOs and managers in order to generate sales. Many times, he was forced to run to his car, flip open his trunk and shuffle through a bunch of boxes to locate the right collateral to show his client.
“Serious old school,” he says with a laugh.
Fast forward to when laptops hit the marketplace: Huddleson would carry the clunky, weighty computer around with him while meeting with clients, often fumbling, bumbling and stumbling his way to access collaterals and files to show clients, mostly to no avail because the computer was too slow to boot up or there wasn’t any way to get online in loud manufacturing operation areas.
But as Huddleson winds down his long and successful career, he is one of the happiest sales representatives on the planet. Today, as he hustles through 20,000 square foot manufacturing plants throughout Tennessee and Kentucky, all he carries with him is an iPad equipped with an innovative app from a California-based company called vablet, which Apple has referred to as “Dropbox on steroids.”
With vablet on his tablet, Huddleson simply taps on a file, folder, video or PDF and instantly — and seamlessly — accesses any piece of collateral that may be instrumental in closing a sale.
“It’s one of the greatest technologies that has come down the pike,” he says. “It’s night and day from what I went through in the past. I can’t image how I ever did it before – and succeeded. It was so difficult. Now, forget it. It’s amazing. I can’t imagine doing my job without it. I can’t imagine any sales person not having it. If they don’t have it, they are seriously missing out on making their job so much easier.”
They’d also be missing opportunities to close sales quicker – and at a higher rate – without the vablet technology.
vablet (yes, it’s spelled with a small “v”) equips all mobile devices – tablets and smartphones – with a secure, encrypted, state-of-the-art, cloud-based platform that enables sales reps in the field to quickly and easily access their most critical corporate content instantly and on demand.
“We’ve empowered sales teams to sell smarter, faster, and more efficiently by giving them on-demand access to content,” says vablet co-founder and CEO Paul Pacun. “Having all the files you need, at that critical moment of selling in the field, puts your sales team in the best possible position to win.
“Having the right files enables sales teams to have engaging and relevant conversations with prospects and a shorter path to a closed deal,” he adds. “It revs up sales productivity.”
vablet co-founder and COO Michael Ames chimes on: “Another benefit is the confidence in knowing that you have complete control of your content. vablet gives marketers peace of mind, especially in regulated industries, so they can sleep easier at night.”
Peace of mind for not only sales executives, but for the marketing executives that enable sales activities and equip their sales teams with the collateral and literature to make them – and the company – successful in the field.
With vablet’s scholarly platform that works anywhere and on any device or browser, every time a file is opened the activity is immediately recorded, tracked and automatically linked to a user’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) account or reported in sophisticated analytics that illustrate the ROI of each piece of collateral.
“vablet is a dream come true for anyone in marketing and sales,” says Natalya Shpolyansky, a marketing manager for a global healthcare giant headquartered in California that features a portfolio of science-based offerings in diagnostics, medical devices, nutritionals and branded generic pharmaceuticals.
“There’s no way I could be as effective in my job without it,” she says. “The same goes for our sales team.”
vablet’s growing list of customers includes such heavyweights as:
- Bristol-Myers Squibb, a prescription pharmaceutical company whose mission is to “discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.” BMS employs over 25,000 and has annual revenues of $16.5B
- Bayer, the life science company in healthcare and agriculture that employs 117,000 people and has annual revenues of $46 billion
- Maui Jim, one of the most prolific sunglass manufacturing companies in its space (it patented PolarizedPlus2® lens, a technology that blocks 100% of UV rays and eliminates glare while enhancing color, definition and depth perception)
- Shire, a biotechnology company focused on rare diseases and other highly-specialized conditions and areas such as hematology, immunology, neuroscience, ophthalmics, lysosomal storage disorders, gastrointestinal / internal medicine / endocrine and hereditary angioedema; and oncology
- Avery Dennison, the label, performance tape and packaging materials company with 25,000 employees globally and $6B in annual revenue.
- Brother, the manufacturer of multifunction printers and other computer-related electronics. The company employs over 31,000 and has annual revenues of approximately $7B.
The evolution of vablet’s technology and platform comes from marketing and sales executives wanting – and needing – to place layers and layers of critical marketing literature in the hands of their mobile sales teams in the field. They also wanted to be able to control, organize and prioritize all the content and know what literature was effective – and ineffective – in the sales process journey.
But they just didn’t know how to do it.
Enter vablet, which has approximately 20,000 users in 50 countries.
“When marketing people realized what we developed, they went, ‘This is great, now we can get rid of paper, and create really dynamic, impactful content that will be displayed on a tablet,’” Pacun says. “Plus, it’s secure and you don’t need an internet connection. It’s not on a clunky computer where you have to spend valuable time searching for and downloading documents, and – most importantly – it really shortens the sales cycle.”
vablet’s platform and technology not only gives marketing professionals complete control over the content their sales force uses in the field, it gives them power over the most important collateral – the pieces that make the difference between making the sale, delaying it or even blowing the sale altogether.
“Let’s say you show a client specific documents and a video, and it results in the sale,” Ames says. “Now, by leveraging our analytics, you know what content sales people are using in the field that is making them successful. Before vablet, you really didn’t know what content sales people were using or if it had an impact on the sales process. Now you do. And, because it’s automatically recorded, you not only know what they’re using – you also know what they’re not using. And if a sales rep is not using a particular video or PDF proven to be crucial to a sale, based on the analytics, management will immediately know and you can help that sales rep be more successful in future calls.”
For a sales and marketing executive, knowing that a certain document or video is responsible for closing sales at an 80 percent rate is “beyond priceless,” Shpolyansky says. “It’s invaluable.”
Erica Mierop manages the vablet software and technology for Associated Packaging’s 125-person sales team. She organizes and prioritizes thousands of the company’s marketing documents – 3,500 files to be exact – into a tight, tidy package that makes it easy to access and more effective to sell.
“We’ve been using vablet since 2012,” she says. “At the time, we were looking for an app that would be an option for our sales force across country to access our marketing materials. We needed something easy for them to bring into a manufacturing facility and show the literature without having to keep a trunk load of collateral in the trunks of their cars.”
She spent weeks researching online. “I was looking for something that was totally out of the box,” she says.
Then she discovered vablet. Soon thereafter, she launched the program.
“I used Wayne [Huddleson] as our ‘guinea pig,’” she says with a laugh. “I gave him access before anyone because he’s old school. In the first few months alone, he saw a shorter sales cycle than normal. He was an instant champion of the technology and in getting other sales people on board with it.”
Once, when Huddleson was walking with a production manager through an operations plant, he noticed an old piece of equipment on its last breath – literally.
“It was like on a respirator,” he says with a laugh. “I whipped out my iPad and pulled up a video of a new piece of that equipment – and in the video, it was actually running. It was literally right there instead of me having to say, ‘Oh I think there’s a flyer in my car of that.’ It was right in hand. It was the difference between selling it right on the spot versus maybe months or not at all.”
Another element Mierop and Shpolyansky embrace is the control factor of the materials.
“I can be assured that our sales force has the most recent marketing pieces,” Shpolyansky says. “Nothing is outdated. If I delete a document and replace it with an updated version, the next time a salesman connects to their tablet, that old document is gone and re-appears as the new one. I love that. I love everything about vablet. It’s an ingenious, priceless platform.”
Sales and marketing executives aren’t the only ones who embrace vablet.
Financial institutions like Credit Suisse and other organizations with compliance requirements and strict regulations utilize vablet’s software and platform equally effectively – and are equally enamored with its functionality, flexibility and overall brilliant platform.
vablet’s client list features many life science companies and financial institutions that require every confidential document and file to be in compliance with industry and federal regulations. They also need it to be secure and encrypted – and they need for it to disappear after a certain date or time.
vablet’s sophisticated platform does all that and more, saving organizations time and potential trouble.
“When a Fortune 100 financial organization has a meeting with its Board of Directors to discuss highly sensitive, multi-million deals, they need complete security and the ability to control all their content as well as highly-regulated documents,” says vablet CEO Paul Pacun. “We’ve designed our platform to provide everything that’s necessary to make it a seamless and secure experience.”
vablet has been available in the Apple App Store since 2010 and on other platforms such as Windows 8/10 since 2012.
Editor’s note: To read the PDF version of this article, click on the image below:
Paul Pacun, CEO, Co-Founder
Michael Ames, COO, Co-Founder