Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Online Meeting & Video Conferencing Software

Online meetings are great.  I love being able to see someone's face and the demonstration or presentation.  I love video conferencing too.  I now DREAD conference calls even more because I can't see the body language or hear as well as I can on a video conference.

Online Meetings 
Online Meetings are best for screen sharing or larger meetings.  All below work on PC and MAC although some require additional fees to run on iPad.

The best free and impromptu meeting software is  Open and it is quick, easy and free to have someone join your meeting.  A great way to browse your website together to build ideas.  Even though I pay for GoToMeeting, I use this for impromptu meetings often.

My favorite and what we use at Geiger.  GoToMeeting includes the video feed for up to 4 participants and up to 25 participants can call in.  The screen share capability is great.  Pricing is reasonable, especially if you are a PPAI Member with the PPAI 15% discount.  For larger meetings they offer gotowebinar.

Webex is the original but no longer the best. I don't like their pricing (per attendee pricing) and I find their software has a lot of features most of us don't use and makes it less intuitive.

Video Conferencing
I work remotely about 50% of the time so I've become quite comfortable with video conferencing.  For me, there are 2 options.  Google Hangouts and Skype. I use Skype 99% of the time.

Video conferencing makes a huge difference in the value of distance meetings.  I'm a huge believer that video conferencing is nearly as good as being there and 10 times more valuable than a conference call.  I like Skype because it works on all platforms, Windows, Mac, IOS, Android, you name it.  It's very reliable and includes great instant messaging features.  It also has a large install base so existing customers are probably already on it.

I pay $50 a year for Skype premium for the ability to have more than 2 people on a video conference.  It also lets me make phone calls to any US number which I occasionally use.

Google hangouts is the coolest of the tools.   It's got amazing features and the price is FREE.  But I use it rarely.  The main reason is that so few people are comfortable with it. Thus, getting people setup to attend the hangout requires training.  But if I know people are comfortable with it, I would be happy to use it more.  Some neat plug-ins make it really powerful.  It allows up to 10 people to chat with video for free.  I suspect I'll be using it more as awareness grows.

No matter which software you decide to use, you need to make video conferencing and online meeting a part of your process.  Yes, Skype & Google+ both can share screens but they are designed for video conferencing so when you need to present, the online meeting tools are better.

For conference rooms at Geiger, we installed the Logitech BCC950 ($186 on Amazon) and it is amazing how easy it is to observe, hear, and communicate with everyone in the room.

If you want to get started with the simplest and most value, go with for meetings and get the free version of Skype for video calls.  These tools can help you as the trend of less face to face meetings continues as I wrote about in Face To Face Selling is Dying.

Geiger CIO Dale Denham, MAS+ provides practical insights on how you can benefit from technology in no nonsense terms. Follow him on Twitter: @GeigerCIO

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Face to face selling is dying

A group of people quickly agree with the statement "Face to Face Selling is Dying", perhaps too much.  For you, I say well done but don't be too cocky, there are still quite a few people who like to do business face to face even if we see it changing.

On the other hand, a large group of sales people are absolutely laughing at me for stating this. You are thinking about all the sales calls you make and the business that you derive from face to face meetings.  You can validate your position with numerous examples to prove how important face to face selling is.  But are we all seeing what we want to see?  Ask yourself, which of the following 2 horizontal lines is longer.

Which line is longer?

They are, of course, the same size.   And even though I know this to be true, I have to work at realizing it to be true because my eyes deceive me despite knowing the truth.  Clearly the top line is longer than the bottom.  It's obvious!  Except that it is not.

The point is that sometimes what we see is based on what we already think.  The way these lines are drawn creates a story for our minds in which both lines are different sizes but the fact is they are the same size.  A simple illusion, but the same is true for what you see in your business and sales life.  You may be seeing longer lines than really exist in your day to day sales life.  So stop thinking about what you know for just a moment, look back over the last 10 years and you will likely see clearly that your clients want to see LESS of you.

It's no secret that online distributors are growing faster than traditional distributors as a group.  Perhaps you aren't watching their growth as much as your own growth, but I assure you, they are growing rapidly.  And they are doing so because they are capitalizing on the transition away from face to face selling.

Face to face selling is not yet dead (it will probably never die) and there are times people want us in their office.  But there are many more times customers just want to know you personally and order from your website without ever speaking to you.  You are important to the transaction. People want to work with you.  But maybe they don't need you in their office each time and maybe they don't even want to talk to you to place the order.  But they do like knowing you are there taking care of the issues rather than some company without a person they know personally cares about them.

Take a moment today to think about how you interact with your clients and start planning carefully to continue to adapt to the way they want to work with you.  Some of you already do or will successfully differentiate yourself such that technology is not an issue.  Others need to come up with an investment strategy to compete in the changing world of commerce.

You'll likely find you need to make an investment in technology.  It will be expensive, but it will pay off.  And perhaps you'll find a slightly different look at the problem, will help you see more clearly.

PS The title of this post was inspired by an article titled Face to Face Selling is Obsolete published on

Geiger CIO Dale Denham, MAS+ provides practical insights on how you can benefit from technology in no nonsense terms. Follow him on Twitter: @GeigerCIO