Technology is also playing a major role in how sales professionals engage existing and potential customers. The combination of advances in the speed of data communication, computing power, and meeting software have made electronic sales presentations a practical and cost-effective alternative to in-person selling. Salespeople have several options for electronic sales presentations including:
- Video Conferencing – A widely used method of electronic sales presentations is one delivered through video conferencing. In particular, many salespeople now use video conferencing in the first stage of the sales process as it can greatly lower the initial cost of reaching sales prospects (e.g., reduces travel expense). However, anyone who has an internet or mobile network connection knows that communicating via video can be a trying experience as the image and sound quality may appear to be slow, jittery, and sometimes not even recognizable. Today, these problems are improving and real-time video conferencing (i.e., television quality video and audio) is becoming more accessible to most salespeople.
- Web/Phone Conferencing – To offset the problems associated with delivery of real-time video conference, many organizations deliver sales presentations using a combination of web and telecommunications. These services use the internet to deliver visual material (typically a slide presentation) and telecommunications to provide voice conversation. The process has a salesperson arrange for a conferencing time with a prospect who enters the conference by: 1) using their web browser or mobile app to gain access to the visual presentation, and 2) using their telephone to call into an audio conference. Splitting the visual and audio feeds allows for smoother presentations since the conference participants’ computers or tablets need only process the visual material.
- Online Text Chat – Online chat allows for real time communication between multiple participants using text messaging. While this form of buyer-seller communication may not be very effective at getting customers to agree to make a purchase, it has proven very beneficial in building initial interest in products. For example, potential customers visiting a website may use the chat feature to ask a few questions about the company’s products. Engaging a customer this way can then lead to the customer agreeing to receive a phone call from a salesperson to further discuss the product.
- Virtual Trade Shows – In the business-to-business market, industry trade shows are a convenient promotional method for reaching many potential buyers in a short period of time. Unfortunately, trade shows can be quite expensive to attend for both buyers and sellers. Yet the value trade shows possess for generating sales leads has persuaded many organizations to explore other meeting options, including online or virtual trade shows. These meetings take place through special “venues” created on the internet, which allow participants to attend while sitting in front of their computer.