How to Cut Presentation Costs, Stress and Time

By Heather Baldwin

Does this sound like your organization? Travel costs are up, revenues are flat or down and sales reps are stretched to their limits, wishing there were more hours in the day to see all the customers and prospects they’d like to see. If that description fits your company, you might want to follow the lead of Walpole, MA-based Network Intelligence, which recently decreed that all initial sales presentations would be done online using WebEx. Almost immediately, revenues increased, travel costs decreased and reps were able to do more presentations in less time and with less stress.

Network Intelligence provides a network event management system that is used by more than half of the Fortune 1000 companies. Scott Bradley, vice president of sales, says that out of every 10 prospects his reps talk to, eight are interested in network security but only two have the budget and timeframe to implement it. “Our challenge was finding those two without spending a lot of time on site,” he says. So in June his sales reps ditched the practice of traveling to every prospect to give a presentation and instead started doing presentations and product demos on the Web, using Web-conferencing technology from WebEx. Prospects could converse with the rep over the phone and see as much of the presentation and product demonstration as they would have seen in person. And reps could identify quickly those two golden prospects worthy of further pursuit out of the 10 potential customers.

What surprised Bradley the most after shifting to online presentations was that customers did not seem to mind not meeting the sales rep in person during the initial stages of the sale – in fact, they actually seemed to prefer it. “Prospects feel more comfortable because there’s not a sales guy hovering over them,” Bradley observes. “We’re actually getting more information from customers. Because they’re at a distance, they’re more willing to tell you the good and the bad. And if they tell you the bad, you can work around it and show them where they might have misunderstood.”

The results of doing these online presentations instead of traveling to make in-person presentations have been remarkable. Network Intelligence has shortened its sales cycle by about a month, says Bradley. Third-quarter revenues are up about 20% quarter after quarter and Bradley anticipates an even greater increase in sales in the fourth quarter. Sales reps are collectively doing at least 250 WebEx demos per quarter now, up from 150 when the presentations were done in person. And travel costs have dropped by about 25%. Regardless of how strongly you believe in the need for face-to-face presentations, it’s tough to argue with that kind of math.