As the economy sputters and travel costs continue to soar, Canadian companies are turning to video to positively impact their bottom lines. Companies from coast to coast are using video conferencing and webcasting to conduct collaborative meetings across town or across the globe. Perfect for sales, marketing, product launches, and demonstrations, video technology has taken on a life of its own.
David Chao, National Sales Manager for Cisco/WebEx and blogger on “The Web Conferencing Blog,” knows firsthand of the many benefits of using video conferencing and webcasting. “Regardless of fuel prices or where the economy is at, web collaboration and video conferencing are technologies that every company, small, medium, and large, and every sales professional, need to be leveraging,” he says. “In today’s global economy, it’s about speed, innovation, and customer acquisition and retention. Such technology enables you to virtually re-capture back hours of your day because it enables you to meet with the right people at the right time to make quick decisions. This increases productivity of the sales team and corporate performance.”
According to Chao, you need only look at some of the top North American companies to see how they have embraced video conferencing and webcasting. “The sales teams of most successful companies already have a web-touch sales model in place. WebEx even has a specialized consulting team that helps companies develop a web-touch sales model specific to their industry. John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, has said himself that his company has saved $150 million in travel costs and air travel has been reduced by 38%.”
Think Carefully About your Tech Usage
For those that are looking at using video conferencing and webcasting, Chao believes there are some things you should consider first. “You must ensure the technology has qualified for third party security certifications. This will minimize your risk against viruses and spyware,” warns Chao. “You must also ensure the solutions easily integrate into existing corporate systems. All of this along with working with a reputable provider will minimize your investment risk.”
Dave Paradi, President of ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com, also sees great value in taking full advantage of video tools like video conferencing and webcasting. He does, however, caution that careful consideration should be put towards how this technology will be used within your sales team. “Video and web conferencing is a good alternative to some meetings in the sales cycle but is not a substitute for all meetings,” he says. “It works best in the early discovery stages of the sales cycle. In the early stages, the sales professional is trying to figure out whether their product or services can solve the prospect’s problem, and the prospect is trying to see if the sales professional has what they are looking for. As you move further in the sales cycle, you need to have face-to-face meetings to build the relationship that will lead to a sale. Over the web, it’s very hard to detect the unspoken body language that is critical to interpreting what someone is saying and what they mean. That being said, both tools can reduce costs in the earlier stages.”
At what Cost?
As with any online product, Paradi feels it’s important to educate yourself on what is available in the market and the corresponding price points. “There are a number of low cost or free tools that sales professionals can use to run meetings. My concern with many of the free services is that they limit the number of participants and the tools that you can use,” says Paradi. Many of the major services offer 30 day trials or free meeting trials where you can get comfortable with the technology and see if it works for you. “I encourage sales professionals to take advantage of these trials to see what works best for their situation,” says Paradi. “Overall, the cost of video conferencing and webcasting is really not much when you consider the big picture.”
If the last few years are any indication, the future for video conferencing and webcasting seems endless. “I think that video meetings will continue to be replaced by web-based meetings since a video conference is limited to only what is seen on the camera whereas a web meeting can also include content such as presentations, documents, spreadsheets, web sites and more. With travel budgets being cut, I think these tools will continue to grow in use,” says Paradi. Nonetheless, these tools, like any business equipment, require training and practice for effective use. “If you’re going to start using web-based meeting technology, learn how to use it properly,” cautions Paradi. “There are some mistakes you want to avoid, especially if you are using web meetings in the initial stages of the selling process and need to make a good first impression.
This article was originally published in CPSA’s Contact Magazine.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.