Over the past few years, the growing popularity of tablet devices has spurred a lot of conversation about the ways businesses can take advantage, with sales being the most common example. After all, with so much time spent in the air and on the road, salespeople are typically the most mobile members of a B2B company.

As a result, more companies began issuing enterprise tablets (primarily iPads) to select staff members. In fact, The Mac Observer reported that by April 2012 as much as 94% of the Fortune 500 companies were at least testing iPads for enterprise use, while 30% of sales reps were already using them for business purposes.

At the time, most of the conversation was geared around how tablets could benefit salespeople specifically – convenient to travel with, “instant on” capabilities, and so on. Now that more organizations have adopted tablet technology for sales enablement, the clear ROI picture has begun to take shape.

Recently, Profitable Channels published a detailed report titled Best Practices for Mobile Sales Enablement that takes a deep dive into the business benefits of tablets and mobile technology. The study found that “many early adopters are already generating top and bottom line business results from their investment in mobile sales enablement programs,” particularly in areas like revenue growth, sales effectiveness and customer experience.

Tablets increase return on investment – for other investments

According to the report, one of the primary factors driving tablet adoption for sales organizations is the potential for reduced selling costs. What’s interesting is that these companies are hoping tablets will help maximize the return on other sales investments like content creation and CRM software.

As the study states, “90% of sales materials created are not used by sales and fewer than 50% of salespeople use the CRM tools provided by their company” (numbers provided by the CMO Council and CSO Insights, respectively). That’s a pretty frightening discrepancy when you consider the costs involved – and the fact that businesses are expected to have higher content budgets this year than last, especially when it comes to video content.

With mobile technology like tablets, companies are betting that quick and more flexible access to these resources will encourage sales reps to use these tools more effectively – and it’s already paying off.

Mobile devices lead to higher sales productivity

Believe it or not, the majority of a sales rep’s time isn’t actually spent selling (as little as 30% according to SEC Solutions). Instead, salespeople spend most of their time preparing for meetings and following up with prospects – highly labor-intensive tasks without a structured sales enablement process in place.

The “anytime, anywhere” access provided by today’s mobile devices can help eliminate a lot of this wasted time, freeing reps up to do what they do best. Tablets are only one piece of the puzzle here, however, as the study states, “salespeople spend 30 hours a month searching for and creating their own selling materials [reports the Aberdeen Group]. To address this problem, over half of the organizations implementing tablet sales strategies were planning for or investing in ways to provide salespeople real time access to the right sales assets and information at the right place and time to advance the sale.”

The report also cites improved training and retention, simpler cross selling, and sales process consistency as other key factors driving tablet adoption for businesses. But what’s truly interesting about the study is that it not only breaks down the potential of mobile device adoption, but lays out how companies have begun to realize measurable benefits.