Webinar tool use to minimise travel

Last week I just sat in the office. As an SE who normally or often travels 50-80% of the time, you might think that my career (or position) was at risk. However it was quite a productive week, where I had no less than 8 customer meetings/ not to mention many more phone calls, emails and other contact points.

This was made possible through some extensive use of web based meeting tools. I have used many of these in the past including Microsoft LiveMeeting, Webex and the current tool we are using is GoToMeeting by Citrix.  For this article I will focus on how to deliver a good demo via a web delivery tool, rather than examine the differences in the tool. I will address that topic in a future post.

How to deliver a good web-based demo
First of all, the aim of a web based demo is just like a face-to-face in that you want to move the customer through the steps of the buying cycle from learning about solutions, through to evaluation and purchase. Rather than waiting for a convenient time for you to travel to meet them, you can make better use of your time, by scheduling a web meeting. The difficult part of this, is that you need to engage your prospects attention much more on the web, as you aren't sitting watching their reactions.

In addition, you can't be sure you have all the people you need present at the meeting, so you need probably double the standard preparation by phoning all your contacts ahead of time, to ensure that you have the decision makers there.  Treat it like any face-to-face meeting, it still uses up your valuable time, and also the valuable first impression is yet harder to recover.

Write down every question you are asked. Mark them off as you answer them, and if you can't answer them straight away, either come back during the call, or answer them later offline.  Each question you get asked is another chance you can contact the customer and gauge how they like your product.

Use powerpoint slides sparingly. It is most important that they have a good active session than that they see every page of your presentation, see every screen of your product or otherwise die of boredom.

The most crucial thing on a web demo is ensure that there is some other helper on your call, whether they come from your organisation or a partner. They see the presentation as you give it, and know what they should be seeing. Also, just like in a face to face meeting, they can 'see' and 'feel' reactions that you might be blind to.  You might also be able to chat with them with a messenger to communicate how to present or answer questions.

The top 5 things to remember giving a web based Demo are:
  • Speak clearly and don't rush
  • Write down people's questions and answer as you can
  • Show the most important and best parts of the product first - Read Great Demo!
  • Ensure that you know they are watching the presentation - but don't bore them with slides
  • Have a helper on the call
What you lose doing a web-based demo:

Seeing people's faces as you go through the presentation - 90% of communication is non-verbal. The ability to turn up, shake hands, and look people in the eye is a big part of business. Make sure you do this when you need to or you won't win the deal.

Also, people tend to buy into a meeting more if they have a visitor to their office. They have to meet you at reception, take you for a quick coffee, and tour the facility. On a web presentation all you have to do is log in, and dial in. You might not even look at any of the slides - so that is a danger. Keep directing people's attention to what you show. Don't just read out every word you have on the slides.

At the end of the meeting, just like in a real-life meeting, ensure that you have follow up activity. Check what they are getting you - confirmation on time lines, budget and so on, and deliver what you promise them. Because a web presentation is more casual than meeting in real life, make sure you enforce everything promised in the call, and back it up on email and a followup call.

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