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Revolutionizing the Sales Industry

The staff behind the magic at Appropos Digital.

Staff working at Appropos, the digital asset startup.

Staff working at Appropos, the digital asset startup.

Chris Morse, co-founder of Appropos.

Jon Faber, co-founder of Appropos.

The digital age has quashed the tedious process of proofing and printing product catalogs. Online shopping carts streamline buying as real-time stock lists smooth inventory control. It was only a matter of time until these tools were integrated into a single iPad app to revolutionize how sales representatives conduct business in the 21st century. At the forefront of this sweeping change is Appropos Digital and its six employee/partners led by CEO Jon Faber.
Competition is rather stark. StoryDesk and NuORDER have similar products. One maintains ordering and the other is for catalog creation, but neither integrates both into a single platform that maintains brand management. Appropos Digital has bridged that chasm with its Enterprise Sales Platform. Available only for the iPad, the Enterprise Sales Platform is in its third year of international deployment, originally developed for Wolverine World Wide's Saucony brand.
Although the era of carrying product samples and catalogs was replaced with laptops and online videos, the process of finding a wifi signal, scrolling through multiple PDF catalogs, and placing orders with week-old warehouse numbers stymied the salesperson's flow. The Enterprise Sales Platform replaces all of that.  
 "From start to finish, the Enterprise (Sales Platform) presents all sales materials," says Chris Morse, VP of Marketing. "No longer will you reference a merchandising sheet after a meeting and email it back; instead you hit order, quantity, and there you go."
"A new rep can present the brand in a much more concise fashion with a lot more depth because it's integrated," points out Faber, noting the decreased time required to train new sales reps.
From a management perspective, brand management is much easier to maintain with the Enterprise Sales Platform. It's a series of plug-ins set in different configurations customized for companies. It isn't on the App Store, although Appropos Digital may bring it there in the future for smaller businesses due to the hands-on development required. Specific company departments are consulted, including IT, marketing, and sales. It's this close treatment that makes this an optimal tool.
"We have two people that live in our photo studio right now," says Faber. "We are photographing 3,000 products with seven shots a piece, some with eleven. The time between when the product is created and the catalog is released is only a few weeks. We manage the logistics of photographing all of those items and placing them into our tool, into the iPads, and into the reps' hands so when they are launched, they can start selling them right away," explains Faber of the exhaustive, yet typical month and a half timeline in which Appropos Digital functions.
Appropos Digital stems from Faber's own iPad app for runners, which he pitched to a Saucony rep online. "He liked the idea. Later, he spoke about a need in the market to digitize their catalogs. From that perspective, they wanted to do something new and cool for their reps. What we came up with immediately stuck, and it became a moment of 'I can't do this by myself,'" says Faber.
"The question became 'What's the minimal amount of people we can use to fill every role, to get this job done, and get this out to market in a responsible fashion where we can support it and execute it on our own?'" says Morse.
The key, Faber states, was "small groups of smart people. We have turned down work to move at the right pace. We're very selective. We don't want to just do random work, but support the Enterprise platform. We make sure our clients fit us, and our product. We work with only 10 clients at the moment."
Morse adds, "we want to stay small and very fluid to work quickly. We'll expand when we can while we keep up quality."
In an era where app-makers are their own sales reps and pitch their products in every conceivable manner for attention, one question remains: how did Faber gain Saucony's attention in the first place?
"Through a funny Facebook post," Faber chuckles.
"Not that he wouldn't have gotten clients another way," adds Morse.
For more information on the Enterprise Sales Platform, including video demonstrations and more, visit Appropos Digital.
Matt Simpson Siegel is a Michigan-based writer whose work has appeared in print, film, radio, and television. He is also a contributing writer for REVUE Magazine of West Michigan.

Photography by Adam Bird
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