Live Video Streaming: A new frontier for Sales Teams
By Tricina Elliker
Sales used to be an in-person profession. Whether it was the traveling, door-to-door salesman, or the kind who stuck to the storefronts, selling was strictly done face to face. Every time. In fact, in some areas of the industry best practices used to recommend salesmen spend hours with the potential customers in preparation for the official demo in order to fully understand them and their needs. But just as technology has shifted nearly every other part of daily life and work, it’s changed the way sales professionals operate.
In many ways technology has been the driving force, addressing common pain points in sales and knocking them down, one by one.
The gap in the toolbox
Though technological advancements have allowed sales to become a more efficient numbers game, reaching more people in less time, it’s also become less efficient in some ways. Particularly in demonstrations. Back when most transactions were conducted in person, a sales person in the store (or in a customer’s living room) would demonstrate how the product was setup, used, cleaned, and sometimes even how to repair small issues as they arose. As the industry moved away from that method, picking up new tools like the telephone and online lead generation which have enabled sales professionals to reach more potential customers each day, the waning practice of in-person demonstrations left a gap in the sales toolbox.
That is, until YouTube. In the last few years, unboxing videos have developed massive appeal. One channel made an estimated $4.9 million in 2014. The videos are short and simple. Two hands, professionally manicured take toys out of their packages, one by one, and set them up. That’s the whole premise. Yet these videos have massive appeal and, you could argue, do half the work of a salesperson. The toys are seen in the glaring light of everyday life, far away from the photoshop and clever camera angles. Customers can see the product literally in hand.
Clearly, there’s still a hunger for demonstrations. But by and large sales teams aren’t able to deliver it. Why? They simply lack the tools to give seamless, professional demonstrations over video.
“The biggest problem today is really the gap between what clients expect when they call on the phone and what people are able to deliver over the phone,” says James McArthur, an entrepreneurial sales and business development leader in New York. Over the course of his career McArthur has worked with startups and enterprises in every industry. He says the industry has been lagging behind, leaving the on-the-ground salespeople to jimmy professional solutions from consumers products that simply weren’t designed for it. It’s not uncommon to use video conferencing software, he says. But it often means embarrassing technical snafus, all while customers wait on the line. That doesn’t make the company look great.
DIY solutions threaten the sale
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to do a conference call and three of the people can’t see the video feed while the others can’t hear the audio and I have no idea what the heck is going on or why,” says McArthur.
Things get especially messy when a salesperson is trying to make a B2B sale, and all parties are working from company laptops and smartphones. Every company has different firewalls and software restrictions — and the software they do have is often several years behind on updates. All of this makes it nearly impossible to pick a video streaming product that will work for everyone. Even when it does work, McArthur says, it’s still nearly impossible to come out the other side looking professional.
“The current handoff between phone to a video demo is really clunky. And the transition doesn’t necessarily work to the salesperson’s advantage — which is the whole point, right?”
But using video is critical to keeping costs low and sales high. It’s no longer feasible to sell door to door anymore. These professionals need better tools to do demos and help customers troubleshoot issues.
“It’s incredibly difficult to walk a client through complex repairs like disassembling an extruder for a 3D printer over the phone,” McArthur says.
But if video streaming fills such a critical role in the sales process, why haven’t we had a solution until now? Tech has only recently caught up, McArthur points out. Though Skype first launched in 2003, very few people had fast enough internet to take advantage. Those that tried had to put up with frequent video freezes, robotic voice interference, and dropped calls — an issue that still plagues the video calling software thirteen years later.
And smartphones? They’ve had the capability to host video calls with decent quality for only a few years now.
All of these obstacles are the last thing the modern sales team needs, McArthur says. “In sales, you’ve got to get something that matters in front of that client as quickly as possible.”
It’s more than a little frustrating to waste five minutes of a 15-minute call you’ve been trying to schedule for weeks (maybe even months) because you’re forced to battle with every video conferencing tool out there. This is just one of the daily frustrations for the modern salesperson.
But it shouldn’t be that way. Sales is already a high-stress department with plenty of obstacles. Could on-the-go live video streaming, where the sales presenter has more control over her tools be the key to unlocking a better experience for the sales team and the customers? Obviously, we think so.
Don’t take our word for it, though. Ask your sales team what they would do for a video streaming tool built specifically to work in a B2B, professional setting.