I spent the last eight months on the front lines of the virtual demo world for Cisco. Working from our headquarters in California, I met with people from all over the world to demonstrate our latest products — without a single plane trip. Using collaboration technology sales teams can avoid travel expenses, sell more, and increase productivity.

Most significant business purchases require some form of travel. Companies need to send sales experts out in to the world to demo their products. Or, depending on the products or the situation, customers often travel to the vendor’s site. Although travel involves expense and time, personal interaction is important to customer relationships. Travel can make the sales process more cumbersome and time consuming. But without travel, you limit the degree of direct engagement you might have before a customer makes a buying decision.

How Can Remote Demonstrations Add Value to the Sales Process?

Remote product demonstrations are providing companies with a less-expensive option to engage with customers. And the best part of it is that neither customers nor your technical experts have to travel as much. Just as video is changing the nature of meetings, it’s also a fitting solution when buyers are making purchase decisions. Video allows you to react to a customer more quickly and personally than voice or e-mail.

Whether you need technical experts to do demos or salespeople can do their own, the distance between you and your customers becomes irrelevant. You can access greater technical resources in a remote product demonstration than would ever be viable if a smaller team had to travel to a customer site.

How Do Remote Product Demos Work?

The short answer is that you conduct product demos over videoconferencing. But depending on your products, there’s a wide range of ways to present your product remotely.

My role was in the Customer Experience Centers. Cisco has centers all over the world where customers can take part in demos with Cisco teams in different locations. So let me paint a picture of my remote demonstrations: Customers come to an Experience Center where they sit in a three-screen immersive TelePresence room. These systems provide an “in-person” experience with life-size (borderline Stargate portal-looking) screens. On one screen, customers see a presenter; on the two screens, they can see close product views and relevant content. It’s all Cisco technology, of course: The demos use TelePresence, WebEx, Jabber, and video endpoints.

How Can You Set Up Remote Product Demos?

Using video endpoints, you can create a dual- or single-screen video experience in multiple locations or branch offices within your own organization.

All you need is video on two ends of the conversation. Whether you use conference room systems like the Cisco MX700 or SX10, or even Jabber on a laptop, the point is that you can demonstrate products across distance without the need for travel. Customers can attend via their own desktop or room endpoints, or by connecting via WebEx, Jabber, or Collaboration Meeting Room. Video creates an interactive conversation and offers an opportunity for deeper engagement and real-time content sharing.

A few years ago I could not even imagine that such rapid “virtual travel” across continents was even possible. Maybe I’m a nerd, but watching the world come together like a sci-fi movie seems pretty cool!


Olesya Karpova

No Longer with Cisco