Speaking With the World: Part I

One of the big challenges of taking a business to markets outside of your local geographical area is talking with, and selling to potential (and current) clients – especially when it comes to software applications. It’s certainly an obvious issue but until they try it, many companies don’t realize just how complicated it can be.

The reality is most opportunities aren’t big enough to justify flying out for a good old fashion face-to-face meeting. Worse still is for complicated sales cycles it often takes multiple meetings. Traditional conference call services are fine if more than two parties are involved – but how do you demo your software?

Over the past few weeks since launch I’ve encountered these hurdles on an endless basis. Over the next couple of days I’ll give a rundown on some of the technologies that we’ve had success with in various situations. Let’s start with the lowest hanging fruit:

MSN Messenger: Buried in MSN Messenger is the guts of what used to Microsoft NetMeeting. For one-to-one conversations a webcam and mic let you have face-to-face, streaming video and audio conversations. Additionally, “hidden” under the Activities tab you’ll find the Whiteboard and Application Sharing features. Through Application Sharing you can share applications on your desktop with the participant in your meeting – a perfect way to demo your software or secure areas of a website without having to give out licenses or passwords etc.

Messenger works best in one-to-one situations (Video and Audio chat will ONLY work in one-to-one) – when it works that is. I’ve found MSN to be very hit and miss when it comes to connecting to other contacts for any of the advanced features (ie. not chat).

Lastly the challenge I always had with it was the necessity of giving out your MSN screen name. While that particular MSN Account is used for work I don’t really want to share it with every prospect that we demo for – easily worked around by creating a generic account, but still a pain.

At the end of the day we use the Messenger app heavily for internal communications with our team both in and out of the office, but for client meetings and demos we’ve moved on. More tomorrow!

PROS: CONS:
– Free
– Readily accessible to everyone
– Practically limited to one-to-one meetings
– Connections can be hard to make, difficult to troubleshoot
– You have to give out your MSN Screen name
– Lacks the “image” of a polished professional organization