Video collaboration continues to be a very hot market. According to research from Polycom, by 2016 video conferencing will be the preferred method of collaboration, outranking email and conference calls. The same survey also reveals 96 percent of decision makers believe video collaboration improves productivity, and 76 percent of decision makers are already using video collaboration at work. But does this mean that video collaboration is a solution for everyone today?
Although we understand the power of video collaboration, every organization doesn’t need the same video conferencing system. Some will need a high-end video collaboration system in an auditorium or conference room where executives can gather; others will need a portable video collaboration solution that can be used where and when it’s needed; still others will need something for more intimate, one-to-one video collaboration.
Before you start selling video collaboration solutions, you want to make sure the prospect is qualified so you can “right-size” the video collaboration solution they require. Here is a list of seven questions to consider when qualifying a new customer for a video collaboration system:
How do you plan to use video collaboration?
This qualifying question will immediately tell you what kind of video collaboration system the prospect envisions, whether it’s for small meetings, company presentations, interviewing job applicants, or group training. If you can narrow down the specific types of video collaboration applications they really require, you can guide them.
For example, if their primary objective is to facilitate product development with smaller teams or support sales calls, setting up a larger system in a conference room or auditorium may not be as useful as something more portable. If you can design a system to suit your customer’s immediate need and demonstrate the ROI of video collaboration, you have a much greater chance of upselling them at a later date.
How will the video collaboration solution fit into your existing infrastructure?
This is both an IT question and a management question. For IT, you want to have a good understanding of their network infrastructure in order to assess available bandwidth and capabilities. If you have a solid, high-speed broadband network, for example, a high-definition solution might make senses. If, however, the network capacity is overextended, you want to make sure any video collaboration solution doesn’t add to the problem.
For management, the same question addresses the corporate culture. If you are walking into an organization that has never used any form of video collaboration, then the adoption curve will be slow and awkward, which means you risk having a customer who doesn’t’ feel they got their money’s worth. If, however, you have executives who already believe in the power of video collaboration, you can use them as evangelists to help you develop a system that will suit the company’s way of doing business.
What’s your budget?
This is an awkward but necessary question; you can’t recommend champagne if their budget can only handle beer. Right-sizing a video collaboration solution means recommending a system that is affordable and sustainable. For the customer, it’s not just a matter of up-front equipment and installation costs. You want to make sure they have accounted for ongoing operating expenses as well, such as transmission and bridging costs and training.
What’s your expectation regarding the ROI on video collaboration?
In order to set customer expectations, you need to understand what those expectations are in the first place. Discuss how to measure ROI and what a reasonable return on investment looks like. Be prepared to talk about the lifespan of equipment, impact on network upgrades, and other factors balanced against savings in travel costs and gains in productivity.
How much training and support will you need?
Video collaboration systems can be easy to use but look complicated to an untrained user. Part of your commitment needs to be preparing the customer to use and maintain the system. Determine who will actually be setting up collaboration calls and using the system. Is there an on-site IT professional who can handle setup and troubleshooting or will you need to have technical support on call? Once you have finalized the installation, you need an understanding of what additional requirement the customer will need to get the system operating smoothly.
Who do you want to benefit most from video collaboration?
This is a more subtle way to approach the challenges of choosing the right kind of video collaboration system, user training, and potential ROI. It also should be part of your ROI calculation. If, for example, the sales team is the group most likely to benefit from video collaboration, returns are going to be gauges by a) reduced travel costs and b) increase in number of sales. If the primary users will be, say, the human resources team for remote interviews, you need to use a different metric to calculate ROI in order to set expectations.
What about your plans for the future?
When qualifying your customer, you want to make sure you “future proof” the video collaboration installation as best you can. For example, will the customer want to support mobile devices in the future? What about integration with other platforms (as with unified communications)? Will they be adding multiple remote locations in the future? Understanding the future needs for video collaboration not only helps you design a system that can grow with the customer’s needs, it gives you an opportunity to upsell in future.
And the eighth question that we didn’t list is, “When can we get started?”
With the right information in hand, you can develop a winning proposal that meets the customer’s immediate needs and future expectations, and put yourself in a position to win more business in future.
What qualifying questions do you ask when talking to a new video collaboration client? What’s the first thing you want to know?