Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Top Ten Reasons To Use Conferencing Services

1. It eliminates geographic separation

This can apply to anybody doing business anywhere. You can instantly meet with people in your organization, partners, clients, or prospective customers. With products like Reservationless 800 Conferencing, you can e-mail, text or IM a number and access code from your Blackberry or other PDA and participants can join immediately. The proximity to a geographically separated client base becomes instantaneous.

2. It improves productivity in collaborative research and development

This applies to persons heading R&D in IT, biotech, physical science, product development, marketing, or any other area. The widespread introduction of conferencing and collaboration tools over the past few years has helped organizations better improve research and development among team members. For instance, web conferencing software has allowed company employees in separate locations to collaborate on projects in real-time, greatly boosting operational efficiency. Countless organizations have benefited from this technology and seen time-to-market improve, resulting in competitive advantages not enjoyed before, reduced R&D costs, and quicker ROI.

3. It improves investor relations (IR)

This applies to any and all CFO’s and CIO’s. All public companies are scrutinized in their quarterly conference call and earnings report. When the call does not go seamlessly, it makes a negative impression on the operational aptitude of the company giving the presentation. Investors think, “What type of company has an error-prone conference call?”

The unfortunate reality is that some companies do botch the investor call, whether having not enough seats/bridges open or a complete lack of moderation/order. Often, they utilize products not geared for such large audiences and/or products that don’t support the unique needs of such an important call. The top conferencing providers have solutions geared toward investor and enterprise-level calls, and a wide variety of solutions exist to accommodate such needs and eliminate highly-visible public disasters.

4. It boosts sales - every single time.

This applies to any sales VP’s, Regional Directors, or Area Managers. Any company with multiple offices needs to have management tools in place to meet with the branch subordinates on a regular basis. As a former sales manager, I learned the mantra “inspect what you expect” very early in my career. Having regularly scheduled calls with subordinates will help prepare the organization better and teach a culture of being prepared and organized. It will also keep senior management informed on the sales activities as they are happening, instead of hearing about things in retrospect. This allows the senior sales executive the chance to act on accounts before they are possibly lost, like stepping in and offering better pricing, terms, or service level guarantees. The best organization leaders I have ever worked for personally made it a point to keep in regular contact with the field sales organization, and it showed in the results.

5. It improves corporate communication

This applies and directly affects everybody in an organization. Have you ever worked in an organization where you felt like the corporate office was a world away? Perhaps you do now, as I did at one time. The biggest difference between companies that grow successfully and those that do not is not being like-minded in goals and spirit across the organization. The most successful companies (like Google) convey a sense of togetherness and corporate culture that is inspired from a set of values, such as “thought leadership”, “customer-centric”, “caring”, etc….. The organizations that keep their main cultural values at the forefront do so by regularly communicating with their remote and regional offices. Audio conferencing and web conferencing are two of the simple ways to accomplish this high priority.

6. It speeds training and education

This applies to any C-Level who has a training requirement in their company. Organizations spend a lot of money getting new employees trained on company and industry information, internal procedures policies and methodologies. Many industries, such as education, legal, real estate, technology, manufacturing, and accounting, have initiatives that require constant training in order to maintain current standards in the respective industry. Audio and web conferencing are the dominant training tools to accomplish any organization’s e-learning initiative. Companies that utilize this technology save thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, in hard-dollars savings from travel, accommodations, meals and gratuities, and air-fare. The often-overlooked aspect of savings in using conferencing products for e-learning is that it is a definite boost in productivity. Instead of losing several hours (at best) with flight time, your employee is able to return to work instantly.

The company that utilizes these communications tools effectively trains their workforce more efficiently, save money, and boost productivity at the same time.

7. It improves your internal marketing initiative

This applies to Chief Marketing Officers and VP’s of Sales. Companies that can roll out new products in unison to a geographically disparate workforce have a greater chance of success. The ability to introduce new offerings in a clear, concise manner and in a positive fashion can boost sales’ attitudes about the new product or direction. In addition, the marketing message is the most important differentiator in our highly competitive society. The roll-out is the marketing organization’s best time to convey those vitally important differentiators to the internal sales team as most buyers want to know “what is in it for me”. Differentiators bridge that gap to the prospect and help the sales team close deals.

8. It improves the external marketing initiative

This applies to the direct and indirect field sales force and client retention specialists/account managers. Similar to the internal benefits listed above, the same benefits apply to external customers. When you roll out new products or services, it is easier to demonstrate it in a clear and concise manner. Audio and web conferencing solutions let a sales force introduce new offerings easily without geographic limitation. Retention and service personnel within a company can use the same conferencing and collaboration tools to introduce new products, conduct account reviews, and keep connected with vital decision-makers in an organization. Since sales is all about relationships, keeping those relationships active is vital to protect your customer base and maintaining contact with the most important positions is the key.

And for companies relying on an indirect channel, frequent communication is of paramount importance when driving productivity. Effective presentation done in an entertaining way is the best method to get your channel partners pushing your product and not your competitors.

9. It offers mobile proximity

This applies to anybody with a PDA or cell phone. While it is true that cell phones often can cause a lot of static when they participate in audio conferences, sometimes the urgency of the call overtakes the immediate need for everything to be 100%. Most conferencing providers today offer mobile solutions that allow web features to be accessed from PDA’s, so that you don’t miss any aspect of the call that is taking place at that moment.

10. It will save your company money, boost productivity and is fantastic for the environment

This principle benefits everybody. Whether you measure by hard dollar savings in travel, meals, accommodations, entertainment, or soft dollar savings in areas like boosted productivity, increased sales, and better messaging, your organization will save money.
Further, it will help to lessen the carbon footprint that is of such great concern these days. Instead of consuming more fuel, conferencing adopters are making a socially-responsible decision that lessens the impact on the environment.

Less travel = less fuel = GREEN business = better for the environment.

To try conferencing for yourself, sign up for a free 15 day trial at today!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Leading Document and Training Solutions Company Uses Web Conferencing for Strategic Advantage

Michaels and Associates, a high impact custom training and documentation solution company, is thriving during a time when the industry as a whole is retrenching. As an organization, they are raising the bar for quality, while maintaining industry leading turn-around times and pricing. This level of service and deep customer focus is both appreciated and sought after by their US and International clients.

President Sherry Michaels says the firm’s success lies in making each and every customer successful, even in the toughest of environments. “We put in 100 hours of research before we even meet with a client, to know their business better than anyone. That intense business focus continues throughout our client relationship lifecycle, so we are always experts on the various topics, and delivering extremely effective, synchronized and seamless solutions.”

A client once asked Michaels what the “secret sauce” was, after being impressed by the best solution delivery they had ever seen - even though the project was hampered by extremely tough deadlines. Michaels attributes the company “secret sauce” to three main business pillars; hire the very best, fully empower each and every one of them, and make sure they produce the best solutions in the industry.

One of the main tools that empower Michaels and Associates to produce the best solutions in the industry is a feature rich web conferencing solution. Michaels and Associates use VIA3 from VIACK for their corporate communication and collaboration needs to gain a competitive advantage.

VIA3 is one of the few web conferencing solutions which include a secure corporate IM tool, which Michaels uses to connect her dispersed virtual teams. “I’m a big believer in management by walking around, which normally would be hard in an organization that has any level of virtual members. With VIA3 I can touch base on an informal basis, say hello, and have that human interaction.”

The company also enjoys rich audio and video meetings on both an ad-hoc and scheduled basis. The Media Team, for example, collaborates on VIA3 at least six hours a day, and would be “hamstrung” without it. They meet and present using the VIA3 presentation mode, where both the presentation and presenter video can be seen. They share their desktops live with the VIA3 “Shared Desktop” feature. They also brainstorm conceptual ideas together on the virtual whiteboard, as if they were all in the same physical conference room.

VIA3 also expedites the process of creating and finalizing SOW’s, or “Statements of Work”. The SOW process is complex, cuts across several service offerings, must be delivered in perfect form, and must be delivered quickly. The entire executive team is able to come together and “virtually” collaborate in real-time to write and deliver these complex SOW’s in a timeframe that would otherwise be difficult.

Because VIA3 meetings can scale to at least 2,000 attendees, Michaels and Associates will be using it for company meetings, where anyone can present or attend without having to travel. They will also be using VIA3 to meet, present, and collaborate with clients on individual projects as needed.

Michaels likens her company to an Olympic champion swimmer in an event. “In a swim match, everyone swims. What we do is get the gold medals.”