Why Web Conferencing is the Key to Closing More Deals


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As a salesperson, you know that relationship building is an important part of the sales process. And when you're short on time, web conferencing with video conferencing helps you reach more people in face-to-face meetings than you could get to in one day in-person, and it's more effective than just using phone or email. In this report from CSO Insights, find out why more salespeople are using web conferencing for sales meetings and demos now more than ever.

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Why Web Conferencing is the Key to Closing More Deals

  1. 1. This report is provided to you compliments of   followingwww.gotomeeting.com Sales Tools for 2013: Why Web Conferencing is the Key to Closing More Deals By Jim Dickie and Barry Trailer; Managing Partners, CSO Insights Introduction In the world of sales, we see a continuous stream of new ideas come to market: innovations in sales training, CRM technology, coverage models, sales messaging, compensation models, knowledge management, analytics, etc. They all promise to fundamentally change the world of selling. The promise is often of intellectual interest, but the truth is that it means nothing without adoption. In the realm of science, once is considered an instance, twice is a coincidence, and three times makes a pattern. Over the years, CSO Insights applied a variant of that model when assessing sales effectiveness solutions. If a few companies test-drive a new sales transformation concept and start to see successive improvements in performance, we begin to watch it. When adoption of a practice exceeds 5 percent within the sales organizations we survey, we actively track it. When utilization of an innovation starts to become mainstream, we analyze it. In this whitepaper we will track the evolution of online sales collaboration—how it is changing the way we engage and sell to customers and how new innovations will continue to increase the adoption of virtual selling going forward. The Evolution of Sales Collaboration Online We were first introduced to the concept of online collaboration in 1988. A techie friend of ours created a Unix-based application that he called ChalkTalk. The basic foundation for screen-sharing was there, and we used it to have our programmers in San Mateo work with the team in Ottawa, Canada to design and code applications together. It was a “nice-to-have.” But, based on the system requirements at the time, the price, the slow communications’ link speeds, etc., it was clearly not a “must-have.” So we never really gave it much thought as a resource for salespeople. However, other visionaries picked up on the concept, and in the late 1990s and early 2000s, marketing started to use web conferencing to educate prospects. Webinars became a cost-effective way to promote a company’s offerings, and, as the reliability of the systems increased, so did adoption of the applications by marketing teams. In 2006, we started to conduct a detailed analysis of the use of web conferencing by sales teams, as adoption of the technology as a means for salespeople to engage customers exceeded 33 percent in the companies we surveyed for part of our annual © CSO Insights 1 No portion of this report may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the authors.
  2. 2.  Sales Performance Optimization (SPO). The following chart (see Figure 1) shows thethree main use cases companies cited back in 2006 and also presents their rates for theimpact this was having on their ability to effectively sell. Figure 1- 2006 web-based sales collaboration positively impacting sales effectivenessAs we have previously noted, sales organizations have historically been responsible forgenerating anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of the leads they pursue. Learning lessonsfrom their marketing brethren, salespeople started holding webinars to generate leads intheir own territories, and the numbers above show that many firms view those efforts assuccessful.In addition, we saw an increase in sales reps using screen sharing to deliver remotedemos and presentations, and also to host web conferences for sales calls. Back in2006, we remember some debates emerging that questioned whether “high-tech”(online) selling could be as effective as high-touch (in-person) selling. The ratings abovedemonstrated that many sales teams were finding web-based collaboration to be aneffective way to work with clients.Another interesting trend we noted was personal adoption and company adoption. Theprice points for these applications reached the point to where, if organizations didn’tprovide the tools to reps, salespeople would start to license these applicationsthemselves to improve their own sales effectiveness.© CSO Insights 2 No portion of this report may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the authors.
  3. 3.  Use of Web Conferencing for Sales TodayWhen repeating our Sales Performance Optimization study six years later, we found thatonline sales collaboration has crossed the tipping point to where more organizations areactively using this approach to engage customers than those that are not. And thedriving force behind this trend appears to be directly linked to an increase in salesperformance as a result of using this approach to selling. (See Figure 2.) Figure 2 - Web-based sales collaboration’s impact on sales effectiveness is increasingBy way of explanation, for each of the uses of online sales collaboration displayed in theabove chart, you see a percentage figure following, i.e., Sales-Initiated Webinars – 60percent. That is the percentage of sales organizations that we surveyed that reportedactively using these solutions in each aspect of selling. So we see that in all cases wehave gone over the 50 percent adoption mark.You will also note that we are now seeing a new use for online sales collaboration, whichis using the applications to host internal meetings for sales teams. As more and moresalespeople are working remotely from their company offices, the opportunity to meet inperson with other reps, managers, and subject-matter experts from other departments isdecreasing. Sales organizations are now regularly turning to online meetings to conductsessions such as forecast reviews, sales training classes, and proposal creationbrainstorming sessions, among other things. And, since many web conferencing toolsoffer integrated video conferencing for desktop and mobile devices, these people areable to meet face-to-face with their partners, colleagues, and customers from anywhere.© CSO Insights 3 No portion of this report may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the authors.
  4. 4.  It is also worth noting the significant positive impact that web conferencing is having onsales compared to a few years ago. Today, nearly all users of web conferencingsolutions are seeing them help improve their performance. In looking at active users ofthese systems, we see that two things are increasing adoption: improvements in salesefficiency and sales effectiveness, as shown in the following examples: “Business is booming right now. Our sales team is doing three-to-four customer meetings a day. GoToMeeting has saved us so much travel time and cost by enabling us to do online demos and presentations.” Steven Heffter, CTO, Proposal Software “Our sales engineers love the ability to switch presenters and allow the customer to ‘drive’ the software [in GoToMeeting]. It’s a great way for them to try out different features and functions for themselves, instead of just watching the engineer." Nadia Kotecha, Product Marketing Manager, Prophix SoftwareWhere to From Here?Based on continuing innovations that have been emerging in the web conferencingspace, use of this method to support selling will only increase. Three keys trends drivingthis include support for video and mobile and the ability to record and replay. GoToMeeting is available on the iPhone, iPad, and Android, so you can meet from anywhere. Image used with the permission of Citrix Trend One: Video Video conferencing now allows salespeople to incorporate the high-touch experience of face-to-face selling into the high-tech web meeting. For example, let’s say you set up a meeting with four key stakeholders in a prospect account, a subject matter expert inside your company, and yourself. Using video© CSO Insights 4 No portion of this report may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the authors.
  5. 5.   conferencing with webcams allow you to see each other during the session as if you were meeting in person—all while physically separated by distance. Two benefits result from this: First, you increase the ability to develop personal relationships with the other attendees. They aren’t just voices on a conference call. Rather, they are people you see and hear—and thus become more familiar with. Second, video allows salespeople to read a buyer’s body language. Do they look fully engaged? Do they seem confused? Has something you just said made them appear skeptical? Based on their physical reactions, you can stop the conversation and clarify a concept, handle an objection, or reinforce a point that you otherwise would not have known was necessary. The end result is a more effective, informative client meeting. Trend Two: Mobility Mobile support will also increase the value of web conferencing for sales. Now, using a tablet like the iPad, meeting attendees can be almost anywhere and still be connected. For example, you, as a sales executive, get called out of the office for an offsite budget planning session. With web conferencing for mobile apps you can still hold your weekly forecast review meeting with your direct reports via your tablet or smartphone. Trend Three: Recordings The third trend driving the use of web conferencing in sales is the meeting’s record and replay capability. This is valuable in two main use cases. The first is sharing information with key prospect stakeholders. With a face-to-face meeting, if a key decision maker misses an important meeting they have to rely on notes or summaries from the other attendees to get up to speed. If the meeting was web-based, they can watch a recording of the session and see what transpired, first hand. Second, companies can use meeting recordings to archive them for later review months or years down the road. For example, let’s say that you work at a semiconductor firm. During the sales cycle with a potential client, you have a key meeting with their engineers talking to your engineers about what your products will and will not do. Based on that meeting, you win the deal. Two years down the road an issue arises in the reliability of the device that your parts were used in, and the client is convinced that the problem is the result of performance claims that your engineers made that were not being met. With access to the recording of the web-based meeting, you can get right to the truth versus ending up in vicious circle of “he-said, she-said.”© CSO Insights 5 No portion of this report may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the authors.
  6. 6.  ConclusionReflecting back on how web conferencing has evolved for use by sales, the end resulthas been that the original promises that this technology could enhance saleseffectiveness were justified. Based on this, our recommendations are as follows: 1) If you are not using web and video conferencing already, reconsider why. The technology is reliable, easy to use, and comes at a price point that is very accessible to most companies. 2) If you are already using web conferencing, make sure you have a solution that is continually being enhanced. The newer features are demonstrating real value, especially video and mobile applications. 3) Finally, to maximize the effective use of web conferencing in selling, invest in education on how to use the solution and the best practices for using it. We benchmarked one software company that says the customer acceptance of online meetings increased dramatically after they conducted rep training on effective ways to host a meeting online.In summary, we see virtual selling as a must-have for sales teams for both customer-facing and internal meetings. Continued innovation in high-tech, allowing sales andclients to have those relationships enhanced by high-touch interactions, will ensure thatonline collaboration is a standard for selling going forward.Any questions regarding this analysis can be directed to Jim Dickie,jimdickie@csoinsights.com or Barry Trailer barry.trailer@csoinsights.com. ***© CSO Insights 6 No portion of this report may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the authors.
  7. 7.  About CSO InsightsCSO Insights has provided executives with best practices in sales and marketing forover eighteen years. Each year, we survey thousands of Chief Sales Officers (CSOs) tobenchmark the use of people, process, technology, and knowledge, and the impact onsales effectiveness. We also review offerings from solution providers to retain ourposition as the experts on options for CSOs.About GoToMeetingOnline Meetings Made Easy.GoToMeeting is the extremely simple, extraordinarily powerful web conferencing servicefrom Citrix. It integrates HD video conferencing, screen sharing and audio conferencing,allowing you to collaborate effectively online in a face-to-face environment. Holdunlimited meetings for one low flat fee and attend meetings from a Mac, PC and mobiledevices. GoToMeeting will change the way you work — and perhaps a whole lot more.To learn more, visit www.gotomeeting.com.© CSO Insights 7 No portion of this report may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the authors.