Sales Tools Buyer’s Guide

When shopping for software solutions for your sales team, it can be tempting to take the path of least resistance and go for the first sales tool you can find. However, it's important to identify your sales team's unique needs first so you can ask the right questions during your buying process to guarantee that you find a sales tool that meets your needs.

There is an overwhelming selection of sales tools out there and PGi is here to help you sift through them to find the one perfectly suited to your unique goals. There are a number of sales tools that could revolutionize how your sales team operates that you might not even know exist. PGi’s Sales Tools Buyer’s Guide is designed to assist you through your sales journey and help you find a sales tool that will integrate seamlessly into your workplace practices.

The Problem with Docs, Drops and Camps

If you work in marketing, you know all about the pain points associated with the “Docs, Drops and Camps” approach to getting work done.  Pains like limited file storage, awkward sharing with internal teams and external vendors, and having to use a variety of tools which are not integrated.

Each of these tools has limitations in key areas. What you need is a complete business solution.  One that is purpose built for marketing teams by marketing experts to let you collaborate holistically within your teams and with key stakeholders as well as outside agencies and vendors.

Watch the video The Problem with ‘Docs, Drops and Camps and you’ll learn how iMeet Central from PGi meets all these criteria.  And after you’re done watching, request a consultation and we’ll show you how iMeet Central can help streamline communication and increase productivity.

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Still Collaborating with Emails and Conference Calls?

Does this sound familiar? When it’s time for a meeting with remote marketing staff, cross-functional teams, vendors or partners, everyone piles into a meeting room and the leader dials into a conferencing number. After all the people at different locations get connected, there’s confusion about who’s speaking, difficulty hearing them or understanding what they’re saying, and there are delays while everyone finds the right documents and the most recent versions.

Is that any way to collaborate? Read the eBook “Still Collaborating with Email and Conference Calls? You’re Doing It All Wrong!” and you’ll learn how the right collaboration tools give you access to a wide range of features and capabilities that make it easier to manage and engage your team and produce better, more effective results.

Vendor Soup and Productivity Drains

If your marketing department is like ours, the number of players on your roster keeps growing. Simply managing the quantity of meetings these relationships require is overwhelming. Now add the internal folks competing for your attention along with deadlines, answering emails, keeping track of documents and the constant stream of requests from executives.

Read the article “Vendor Soup and Other Productivity Drains” and you’ll learn what factors are causing marketers to lose valuable time and productivity.  Factors such as “partial” legacy tools or point solutions ill-equipped to handle modern collaboration needs.  The good news is that when you implement next-generation collaboration technologies — like integrated document, content and project management, you fare much better and your performance can actually improve.

Wake up Your Webinar: 10 Ways to Engage Your Virtual Audience

Did you know that on average only 30 percent of webinar attendees stay for 30-60 minutes, and only 11 percent will stay over an hour? It’s hard enough to get someone to attend your webinar, but how can you get them to commit 45 minutes or more to your event?

The answer is engagement! Once you begin to engage your audience, they stay, they learn and they become valuable prospects to your company.

Ready to learn how the best in class marketers keep their audience glued to their screens and wanting more even after the event is over? Check out our new infographic, Wake up Your Webinar: 10 Ways to Engage Your Virtual Audience, now to learn more.

Checklist: 13 Ways to Promote Webinars

Beautiful presentation? Check. Expert guest speaker? Check. Webinar audience? Wait a minute, where is everyone?

You put a lot of hard work into producing impressive webinars and webcasts, but when the audience doesn’t show up, all of your time and resources spent go right down the drain. Get the audience your webinar deserves with this 13-point checklist by PGi.

Learn how to use your landing page, website and marketing channels in more powerful ways to generate leads and drive attendance. Download “13 Simple and Surprisingly Effective Ways to Promote Your Next Webinar” to ensure your webinar attendance skyrockets every time.

 

3 Tips for Salespeople on Creating an Authentic Social Presence

Social networking is a powerful tool for the modern sales force. In fact, 75% of B2B buying decisions today are influenced by social media. If you want to stay relevant and engaged with your customers and potential buyers, you have to master the ever-changing landscape of social media across several different platforms.

Here are 3 tips for salespeople looking to create an authentic, engaging social presence online:

Be Yourself
No one online wants to interact with a faceless corporate drone! Even if your primary reason for starting a social network account is to engage customers or prospects, you have to bring your own personality to the table to create an authentic social presence. Share content from your favorite websites, even if they’re not related to your product, service or industry. Talk about your favorite sports team, movie or TV show.

And if you are sharing content that’s related to your product or service, why not show a little personality and do so through video?

Don’t Mindlessly Share
The most annoying social accounts are the ones that simply blast out link after link from other sources with no context or purpose. You’re never more than one annoying share away from being unfollowed, unsubscribed or unliked online. Even if you are sharing content online, add your own commentary to it. Demonstrate your expertise, challenge an author’s point or encourage your followers to respond and discuss. If all you’re doing is hitting the “RT” or “Share” buttons on everything you find, be prepared for your follower numbers to plummet.

Know Your Medium
Different social networks have different “rules,” even if they’re mostly unspoken, about what to share and how to share it. For example, Twitter is much more of a stream of consciousness, where you’ll be expected to add your personal commentary and personality (see “Be Yourself” above). LinkedIn, on the other hand, is all business: it’s the perfect place for you to share more industry-specific content that helps make the case for your product or service. If you don’t respect the tones and mores of each of your respective networks, you’ll come across as patently inauthentic.

For more social selling tips, download PGi’s free eBook “The Evolution of Sales: A Survival Guide,” featuring chapters from sales leaders at PGi, LinkedIn, Hubspot, Top Sales World and more.

Presentation Tools to Collaborate & Create Better Sales Pitches

Crafting a sales pitch is a key component to becoming a successful sales professional. Modern effective sales pitches require collaboration and conversation—a two-way street between you and the buyer, listening to their concerns and offering them tailored solutions.

Knowing this, creating an effective sales pitch may require some collaboration with your peers. Instead of relying on traditional methods – like practicing in the mirror – here are some presentation tools that can help you work with your peers to create a great sales pitch:

Online meeting tools, like PGi’s iMeet®, are great presentation tools to use if you’re preparing a sales pitch for a prospect. After you’ve crafted your presentation, log into your iMeet® room to record yourself with both video and audio so you can see where the strengths and weaknesses lie in your presentation. You can then access your recordings in your iMeet files for future reference.

Take your practice to the next level with real-time interaction. Use your iMeet room to video conference a colleague or sales leader before your client meeting. Present your pitch and ask them for critiques on your body language and tone. Because body language is important when making first impressions, this is a great exercise to critique your natural reactions to questions during your pitch.

 

Team workspace tools are easy ways to make sure you’re keeping up with the latest marketing and product messaging. Among various other uses, these spaces are designed to upload documents, like product and marketing materials, to help sales professionals stay aligned with a company’s messaging and goals.

Use this database to help build your pitch with useful information like product specs, unique selling points and benefits and tailor them to your buyer’s needs. Have questions or need ideas? Some team workspace tools, like iMeet® Central, have the ability to create discussions, so you can work collaboratively with your team members in the workspace, instead of flooding your inbox with email threads.

Smart calendar apps are designed to keep you organized. As a sales professional, your schedule is probably packed with meetings with prospects and clients. Use a smart calendar app, like PGi’s Agenday®, to ensure you’re never late for a pitch again. You can also log your calls straight into Salesforce from the Agenday app to streamline the sales process. You’ll be able to keep track of contacts, make notes about your conversation and record where the prospect is in the business process inside Salesforce.

Harness the benefits of technology and collaborate with your peers to create a better sales pitch by using these presentation tools. Want to learn more about the new era of sales and how you can continue to use technology to improve your sales process? Download PGi’s new free eBook, Join the Social Sales Revolution: Your Guide to the New Way to Sell.

How to Encourage Collaboration Between Sales Teams

It might seem contradictory to encourage collaboration among some of the most competitive workers in your business, but research shows sales teams that collaborate together, win together. According to data in the PGi eBook, “Join the Social Sales Revolution,” world-class sales performers collaborate on large deals, account management and customer profiles at much higher rates than other sales professionals.

And the key to making teamwork happen in sales is collaboration technology. Collaboration tools like audio, web and video conferencing help some of the most dispersed sales teams and field offices connect and learn from their counterparts across the region and the world, no matter where they are.

The Benefits of Collaboration Tools for Sales
A lot is written about the importance of building sales alignment with marketing, but what about the importance of collaboration among sales teams themselves? That’s how modern sales teams are breaking ground on new ways of driving leads to closing.

Collaboration tools enable greater knowledge sharing in sales, which helps breathe new life into sales opportunities with roadblocks. It happens not only in formal virtual sales training programs but also now in regional meetings and peer-to-peer mentoring. For sales teams, who face pressure to adapt to constantly evolving buyers’ journeys, training and learning, investing in the right collaboration tools will help encourage everyone to take the initiative to find and share information.

Your leaders in social selling have invaluable insights on what works and what repels prospects on social media sites, and your veterans have years of experience to give newbies a kick in the right direction. Everyone has losses and successes for your sales organization to learn from, and you never know who might help you uncover a soft lead to close a major deal.

Plus, every sales rep knows that response time makes a huge impact on interactions with prospects. Without the technology to make ongoing, real-time collaboration possible, you miss out on the potential to make response times faster by rapidly crowd-sourcing ideas and expertise.

Getting Started
If your sales team’s technology has always consisted of tools for reporting and customer relationship management, you’re probably wondering, “Where do I even start looking for the right collaboration tools?”

The easiest way to ensure your sales reps have technology they’ll use with ease and frequency is looking for an all-in-one collaboration solution. By combining audio, web and video conferencing into one, user-friendly interface, sales reps have enough collaboration options to suit their unique communication styles and on-the-go workdays, without having to navigate multiple platforms.

Social Sales eBook Cover

Looking for more resources on collaboration for sales? After you download your free eBook, “Join the Social Sales Revolution,” to learn about the role of team collaboration in the new sales landscape, check out these blog posts to learn more about the importance of cross-functional collaboration for your sales team:

How to Build Stronger Relationships with Audio Conferencing

Beyond products and revenue, business will always be about people—without customers and fans or employees and partners, a company is nothing but a name and a logo. Whether you’re wooing new customers or improving teamwork, building relationships can be the difference between the success and failure of both your job and your company’s brand at large.

Relationship building no longer happens just face to face. It occurs over emails, tweets, webinars, instant messaging and other virtual forums that make it quick and convenient to do at a distance.

While these tools all have a place in connecting with the people powering your business, nothing beats the speed and human touch of a good, old-fashioned phone call. Don’t overlook audio conferencing as a tool to build stronger relationships.

Why You Still Need to Pick Up the Phone

Audio conferencing will improve your business relationships and ensure that they are long lasting ones.

  • Phone calls are quick. Every salesperson knows that the faster you respond to a lead, the better your chances are of turning them into a customer. That’s because prompt communication demonstrates your genuine interest in helping someone, and unlike email and social media, you don’t have to wait for the person on the other end to find your response when you call. So if you want to make someone feel like you really care, try audio conferencing instead of sending an email or waiting to find a time to meet.
  • Conference calls are convenient. Not everyone is always in a setting to turn on their webcam for an online meeting, but people are more likely to answer a phone call, no matter where they are. And even when someone joins an online meeting on the go, most people prefer a more reliable, higher quality audio connection over VoIP.
  • Audio conferencing is more personal. If you want to get to know your teammate or a sales prospect, it sounds much more authentic to go off your talking points when you’re on the phone rather than email. Getting to know someone on a more personal level and hearing each other’s voice helps you develop trust and rapport. Plus, everyone has different communication preferences and learning styles. For instance, some prospects may prefer talking with sales primarily over emails, but many people still prefer the personal, instant, human interaction of phone calls.
  • Conference calls offer richer feedback. Building relationships requires you to not only reach out often but also to listen and learn about the other person, and conference calls help you do that better than text-based tools. Knowing how someone says something, not just what they say, tells more about what they’re thinking and feeling. Hearing pauses, sarcasm, laughter or a grave tone reveals hesitancy, anger, joy or concern, and you wouldn’t be able to pick up those insights just by reading a response. As a plus, audio conferencing captures all of that deeper data in a recording so you can go back and further analyze and archive your conversation, too.
  • Calling gets you in the door. How many times have you ignored an email? While most people are bombarded with emails, updates and messages, phone calls and voice mails don’t typically arrive by the hundreds every day. People will be much more likely to engage with you and remember you if you call.

If you want to accelerate relationship building and improve the quality of your relationships with customers, teammates, vendors or partners, audio conferencing should be part of your communication strategy.

Even if you’ve moved on from in-person meetings to video conferencing, having an all-in-one conferencing solution that includes crystal clear audio will ensure you stay in touch even when you don’t have the time for a formal online meeting or aren’t in the place to turn on video.

Learn more about the benefits of audio conferencing and all-in-one collaboration solutions for sales professionals and marketing teams today.

Featured Image Source: Unsplash

How Marketing Professionals Can Benefit from Collaboration

For marketing professionals, roles, technologies, stakeholders and channels are always shifting and expanding. Every business is now digital and customer-centric, and it’s up to you to now integrate technology, visualize and interpret data and personalize the entire customer experience.

To manage it all, your team needs a marketing collaboration solution more than ever. Collaboration is crucial to alignment on messaging and campaigns, closing the loop with sales, accessing and sharing knowledge and resources, extending marketing’s role to customer service, accelerating projects and campaigns and igniting new ideas.

As it is across industries, virtual collaboration is essential for increasing productivity, agility and innovation, but in particular, for marketers like you, it is a powerful tool for breaking through the noise and staying in front of customers.

Here are just five ways your team can benefit from marketing collaboration:

  1. Connect your teams. As a marketer, you’re never collaborating in a silo. You are connecting marketing teams across regions and continents, getting sales on the same page and even syncing up with IT to purchase new technology. Marketing collaboration software helps you do it quickly and face to face so relationship building is ongoing and every interaction is more personal, no matter where you are.
  2. Source better creativity. Build engaging, long-term partnerships with the best creative agencies and vendors from anywhere in the world using virtual meetings, or contract marketing geniuses from across the country using virtual collaboration to stay in touch and on progress.
  3. Do more from a distance. Marketing collaboration solutions include online screen sharing, file sharing, note-taking, chat and more so you can host more interactive meetings and presentations with both external and internal parties, which results in more productive and creative conversations.
  4. Do more with less of your budget. With live and recorded webinars and webcasts, you can cast a bigger net for lead generation—not to mention, provide more personalized customer experiences—rather than paying for airline tickets and hotel fees to attend trade shows all year.
  5. Move faster. When your team is spread out, mobile-ready marketing collaboration tools empower you to maintain speed. Get every update and result from your marketing team on your mobile device, or call an impromptu meeting while you’re still on the road.

marketing collaboration tools

However, to ensure your collaboration tool is as smart as your content, you need a solution that’s also intuitive, engaging, robust and accessible in one click. Learn more about PGi marketing collaboration solutions today.

6 Hacks to Effective Conference Calling

Conference calls are a part of every modern day workplace, which is why it’s so important for professionals to understand the art of conference calling. Whether it’s a weekly sales pipeline meeting with various offices or a marketing strategy session with outside vendors, conference calls are pretty much inevitable when working with multiple entities across different locations

And while conference calls remain a staple to continuing daily business, sometimes it can be hard for guests to see them as the most efficient means of communication. To fire up your conference calling skills and make your conference calls more effective, try these six tips and tricks:

  • Prepare an agenda before your meeting starts. By creating an agenda, you’ll be able to control talking points of the meeting, keep the call productive and have documentation of the meeting’s outcome. Make sure you provide the meeting agenda to your guests before the call so they have a better understanding of the meeting’s purpose.
  • Start your call on time. It may sound like an obvious tip, but everyone has experienced a conference call that has started late, and because of this, the call spills over the allotted time for the meeting. Be respectful of your guests and their time and stick to the schedule.
  • Take attendance of who’s on your call. If you’re missing guests or attendees are late, you can make sure someone either takes minutes, or, if you’re using an all-in-one online meeting tool with audio like PGi’s iMeet®, you can record the meeting and distribute it to those who weren’t able to make the call.
  • Host calls only when needed. Understanding when to host a meeting and when to have a brief conversation is extremely important. Before you even send out an invitation for a call, make sure you have a clear and defined purpose for the meeting.
  • Dedicate your full attention when on the call. Sometimes it’s far too easy to multitask when conference calling. Make sure you shut down any distractions on your laptop, turn off notifications for texts and emails and make sure you are giving your guests your undivided attention.
  • Send a follow-up email with a summary of the call shortly after your meeting ends. Keep solutions, feedback and ideas fresh on everyone’s minds. If necessary, create a list of next steps and responsibilities for those that were on the call. Encourage feedback and questions about the call with the group.

Going forward, remember these six hacks to improve your conference calling skills and make your next conference call more successful. Ready to try an audio solution that’s effective as well? Check out PGi’s GlobalMeet® Audio, a fresh new take on audio conferencing that combines the highest quality audio with a user-friendly interface all accessible from your computer, tablet and smartphone.

How to Create a Virtual Sales Training Program

Keeping your sales team up-to-date on the latest tools and techniques is no longer a complex task thanks to virtual sales training software. By using virtual meetings to train your sales team, you can experience all the interaction of face-to-face training without the inconvenience and expenses of in-person training events.

Sales training software like PGi’s GlobalMeet® gives you the full, immersive experience of meeting face to face. Attendees get to not only see the presenter’s face but also streaming videos, shared documents, poll results and group chats.

Moving training online means you save time and money on travel to get your sales pros in the field to a central location.

Since travel’s not required, your team’s sales productivity stays up and downtime down. In fact, virtual sales training lets sales pros on the move join right from their mobile device. And on top of it all, the recording feature gives you much more bang for your buck because you can reuse trainings by sharing the on-demand link.

Get Started: 5 Steps to Virtual Sales Training

  1. Establish your objectives. What do you want your virtual sales training program to accomplish? What new skill do you need your sales team to learn? What behaviors or attitudes do you want them to adjust? Establishing this first will help you better develop everything else, from your platform to your cadence.
  2. Commit to a cadence. Determine whether you need a one-time, comprehensive training for new hires or ongoing, monthly workshops to reinforce sales culture, align sales and marketing or introduce new strategies.
  3. Choose a platform. If you’re hoping to create a more intimate, interactive session with small groups at a time, consider sales training software like GlobalMeet for up to 125 participants. If you want to roll out new marketing campaigns all at once or hold bigger events for up to 325 people, consider a tool like GlobalMeet Webinar. Both web conferencing products offer easy setup and access, superior audio quality and engaging presentation features.
  4. Collect resources. Before you start creating your sales training presentation, collect everything you’ll need to design valuable slides, effective quizzes and impactful leave-behinds. Win-loss customer stories, white papers from marketing, sales enablement messaging and industry stats will pack lots of juicy resources to educate your sales team.
  5. Decide how to measure success. If a sales training program doesn’t accomplish the objectives you established, it’s a waste of time. Plan ahead how you’ll measure the ROI of your efforts. For example, pre- and post-training assessments are simple ways to measure knowledge transfer or changes in attitude, and you can use built-in polling and survey features in GlobalMeet to conduct them.

Sales is no longer a one-man show. It takes a team to engage today’s buyers. Find out how to train your sales team to embrace the radical new way to sell on social by downloading PGi’s free, new eBook, Join the Social Sales Revolution.

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The Biggest Benefits of Corporate Conferencing

Your company’s global footprint keeps you ahead of the competition, but global corporate environments also add complexities to collaboration. Using corporate conferencing solutions, you can simplify and increase communication for better business results.

Some of the biggest benefits of corporate conferencing are connecting global teams and international offices for faster information sharing, increased engagement, better problem-solving and accelerated project management.

Here are just a few examples of how large corporations leverage web and audio conferencing solutions across the organization:

  • Internal online meetings pull the collective knowledge of every global branch together to generate more ideas.
  • Leadership, sales teams, marketers, IT and others are able to make presentations to the rest of the company on new products, campaigns and tools to a larger audience around the world.
  • Global employees get quicker updates through virtual training.
  • Web conferencing solutions help corporate leaders improve their communication with employees all over the world through town hall webinars.

These are just some of the examples for internal use. Using the same corporate conferencing solution, companies also hold investor relations meetings (IR calls), demo products to prospects and improve the customer experience.

business results of collaboration

How Corporate Conferencing Benefits Your Bottom Line
Corporate conferencing isn’t just about getting face time with your global co-workers; connecting your international teams drives real business results. PGi’s infographic, “From Me to We,” reveals the remarkable results of teamwork:

  • By collaborating, companies see better productivity results in terms of innovation by 15 percent.
  • Plus, when workers collaborate outside their own teams, companies see 35 percent greater innovation and creativity.
  • Better collaboration in the workplace also results in 20 percent improved time to market.

Choosing a Corporate Conferencing Provider
While it’s vital for your corporation to connect, the wrong solution may end up interrupting your meetings instead of enhancing collaboration. To really benefit from corporate conferencing, you must choose a provider with an industry-leading reputation for reliability, global coverage, responsive support and security.

If your conferencing solution doesn’t offer a world-class infrastructure with enterprise-class security, you may not know who’s on your conference line or in your meeting room to keep sensitive information under wraps. What’s more, your conferencing solution must have the right balance of security and usability so it’s still easy for your guests to join a meeting.

Some providers just understand the complexity of large global businesses better than others. Find out how to choose an enterprise audio conferencing solution now, and learn how to identify your enterprise web conferencing needs today from PGi.

What’s So Special about Screen Sharing Software?

Online meeting tools and screen sharing software are a vital part of business collaboration for many types of companies. Through screen sharing, marketers can showcase new products, sales professionals can host quick demos and HR teams can present training sessions. This type of innovative software gives professionals the ability to take their presentations to the next level.

So, what features make screen sharing software so special? Let’s take a look at the different types of screen sharing software and their features:

Basic Screen Sharing Software
The primary purpose for screen sharing software is to enable a host to share a presentation with a group. With basic screen sharing software, a user can grant participants access to see his or her presentation by sharing their desktop. Hosts can utilize any type of slide presentation tools, share videos and showcase documents to the meeting participants.

Though basic screen sharing is a great option for business professionals who may not need advanced features, there are potential security issues with allowing participants to view all of the host’s desktop. Sensitive information, like emails or instant messages, could accidently be viewed by those attending the presentation.

Integrated Screen Sharing Solution
A screen sharing solution that is integrated with an online meeting tool can take your presentation to the next level with a variety of advanced features that basic screen sharing software does not have. A tool like PGi’s iMeet has features that allow a host to share not only their entire screen, but specific windows or applications. This helps avoid potential security issues or distractions during the screen sharing experience.

Most screen sharing software not only allows a host to share a presentation, but enables the host to pass the controls to guests to share their screen as well. This works especially well if a team is meeting together to showcase multiple presentations. And because screen sharing is already integrated into the online meeting tool, there’s no additional downloads for hosts or meeting guests.

Teams can also enhance productivity and cut down on multitasking by collaborating on documents together. By keeping your audience engaged with the presentation, you’ll avoid losing them to multitasking.

Screen sharing is an incredibly powerful tool to help maximize productivity within an organization. Regardless of how advanced you’d like your screen sharing software to be, you’ll be able to make the most out of your meeting or presentation, and reduce travel costs while you’re at it!

Try PGi’s iMeet screen sharing software free for 30 days, and learn more about making your next presentation unforgettable with PGi’s free eBook, The Little Black Book of Presentation Ideas.

Using Virtual Meetings to Train Employees

One way virtual meetings serve businesses of all sizes is with better employee training.

In-person training events successfully engage employees but cost time and money. Passive online training (such as emails, slideshows and online documents) offers flexibility but limits interaction.

Today’s online training tools offer the best of both worlds, including interaction and efficiency. Here’s how virtual meetings solve both problems.

Interaction: Face-to-Face Online Training

The nuances of communication — gestures, tone, body language — are not lost in virtual meetings. When used for employee training, attendees experience the same personal connection as in-person events.

Online training software provides a variety of ways for attendees to interact, like real-time and streaming video, screen sharing, public and private chat, polls and surveys. With ample opportunities for employees to ask questions and participate, they engage more, and this increased engagement leads to higher knowledge retention.

That interaction also offers companies the means to get feedback to improve training programs, as well as easily analyze the ROI of online training events. In addition to seeing who joined and how long they attended, post-event reports sum up levels of engagement.

Efficiency: Convenient, Cost-Effective Training

Moving training online means companies don’t have to stop the engine to transfer new information to workers. In fact, virtual meetings accelerate training with quicker deliveries of information.

Because no one has to leave their work location to attend, they can quickly return to work once training’s over, resulting in less downtime and increased productivity. This also makes training more flexible and convenient for mobile employees like telecommuters and professionals in the field.

By offering anywhere, anytime access to online training, virtual meetings save companies money on travel, venues and print collateral for training events. Instead of booking flights and conference rooms, over 100 people meet at once online, and these live sessions can be recorded and repurposed for on-demand viewing or intranet archives.

Virtual meetings are easy enough for anyone outside of IT to host themselves: human resources can onboard employees, sales managers can update entire sales teams and marketing can share new campaigns with sales professionals in the field.

Plus, security features ensure that training documents, videos and sensitive internal information are accessed by only the appropriate people.

Capturing Engagement Online

Some business educators argue that online training can’t hold attention as well as meeting in person. However, just like all virtual and in-person meetings, the level of engagement isn’t entirely determined by the method of delivery but also by the event structure.

Since employees in online trainings are less visible, they have more freedom to multitask. Just like when minds wander during in-person events, however, it is the host’s role to employ all the tools and tactics available to demand full attention. No matter where employees meet to learn, they always need constant activities to stay engaged, as well as content with a narrow focus to retain information.

What Are Some of the Benefits of Telecommuting?

In a recent webinar survey from PGi’s Hitting a Home Run With Collaboration, less than eight percent of respondents said they worked in an office five days a week. The overwhelming majority said they worked remotely at least occasionally.

The number of workers telecommuting is estimated in the millions and expected to grow exponentially over the next decade. So why is everyone choosing remote work over an office cubicle?

The Pursuit of Work-Life Balance
In a 2014 Staples survey, the top reason employees said they preferred telecommuting is work-life balance. Flexible work programs like telecommuting typically offer employees enough flexibility to greet the kids when they arrive from school, visit the doctor or even squeeze in fitness and healthier meals throughout the day.

Plus, telecommuting helps employees avoid some of the downfalls of the office, like stress and interruptions. Without office politics, team conflicts, noise and other disturbances from co-workers, employees gain greater focus and productivity (and potentially save more time during the workday).

Following work-life balance, employees also enjoy the transportation savings and green benefits of working from home, according to the survey. About 600,000 people in the U.S. have a 90-minute commute and a quarter commute across county lines, according to the Census Bureau. The gas savings alone adds up to extra padding in bank accounts, but skipping the commute also circles back to better work-life balance.

An average commuter would save about 50 minutes and a megacommuter three entire hours each day by telecommuting, which means more time for work or personal obligations. Additionally, commuters rate their overall satisfaction and happiness lower than telecommuters, which in turn effects well-being and productivity, according to a 2014 report on Commuting and Personal Well-Being by the Office for National Statistics.

The Telecommuting Effect on Engagement
So what does all of this mean for employers? Companies can take advantage of the benefits of telecommuting to attract, compete for and retain top talent. In fact, telecommuting is one of the top job features workers now seek out according to 71 percent in the Staples survey.

Telecommuting also benefits a company’s bottom line by positively impacting employee engagement. Even after onboarding, the majority of employees in flexibility programs report higher engagement, motivation and satisfaction as a result of telecommuting, according to WorldatWork’s 2013 Survey on Workplace Flexibility.

PGi’s own Telework Week Survey in 2014 found that not only do employees experience improvements in stress and productivity when telecommuting, but also in morale and absenteeism (by 80 and 69 percent). When given freedom and room for personal development, a well-managed and tech-supported telecommuting program yields happier, more dedicated and engaged workers even from afar.

Telecommuting is not without hurdles for both workers and supervisors, but any new change requires an overhaul to our habits and attitudes about the way we work and manage others. By tackling these challenges now, employees and employers can better prepare for the future of work and telecommuting.

Learn more about what telecommuting is at PGi now, and explore the other benefits of this flexible work option in PGi’s free eBook, The Yin + Yang of Telecommuting.

Featured Image Source: Death to the Stock Photo

How is Web Conferencing Used for Sales?

The role of the sales professional is constantly evolving in the face of changing consumer demands, changing products, services and business models and, of course, changing technology. The ways that sales professionals can reach out to new prospects, nurture existing relationships and close more deals have all been impacted by technology – and communication and collaboration tools like web conferencing software are both at the forefront of these changes.

The cold call is long dead – in fact, over 90% of CEOs never respond to cold calls. And consumers are more educated than ever before. According to Forrester Research, the average buyer has completed between 60 and 90% of the decision-making process before engaging sales.

It’s up to you – the sales professional – to learn how to leverage the latest collaboration technology. Web conferencing solutions can provide big advantages over traditional prospecting and follow-up methods, and give you the edge you need to close deals over your competition.

Video Closes Distance, Builds Rapport
It’s important for sales professionals to get in front of their prospects early and often in order to establish rapport and become memorable in the mind of the buyer. Audio calls alone don’t generate the same kind of personal, engaging experience that in-person meetings do, however in-person meetings can be expensive and time-consuming.

By meeting your prospects and existing customers online over high-definition video, you can reap all the benefits of in-person meetings right without ever leaving your desk or home office. Online meetings also let you meet more often; rather than having to fight schedules for a long lunch meeting, you and your prospect can hop into an online meeting for a quick ten minutes follow-up. You get to stay top-of-mind without inconveniencing (and ultimately annoying) your customers.

Get Your Well-Crafted Collateral and Decks in Front of More Prospects
One of the best weapons in today’s sales arsenal is a well-crafted piece of collateral. Your marketing or sales enablement organization invests heavily in creating the most impactful, up-to-date pieces of content for you to wow prospects with, but if you’re having audio-only sales calls, they never get to see your documents.

Web conferencing tools offer the ability to share files, your desktop or even an individual application, letting your pitch deck shine in all of its well-designed glory. And, best of all, you can stay on video while presenting, continuing to generate those engaging personal impressions while sharing valuable stats and product information.

Focus on the Conversation, Not the Technology
On the subject of impressions, you only get one chance to make your first. Once you’ve committed to meeting with prospects online, you have to ensure a seamless, painless experience for your guests; otherwise, all they’ll remember you for is being the salesperson with the technical difficulties. In fact, in a recent PGi webinar, over 40% of respondents cited “Having to download software to enter the meeting” as their biggest frustration with online meetings.

Web conferencing software can be a cumbersome, confusing experience if you choose the wrong tool, particularly for guests trying to enter your meeting. Be sure to pick a tool that doesn’t require guest downloads, offers easy one-click audio and web connections and provides options for mobile entry. It’s important that you remove all barriers and confusing interfaces so that you and your prospect can focus on the conversation, not dealing with the technology.

Web conferencing is just one of the many new tech tools in the sales arsenal. By learning to use it effectively, you can meet more effectively, meet more often and close more deals.

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How to Repurpose Webcasts to Bring Down Your Cost Per Lead

Webcasting is the smart marketer’s solution for budget-friendly lead generation.

No other solution gets you in front of a crowd of 10,000 without the hassle of travel and event costs. By removing the expensive venue, signage, heavy sound equipment or other production elements, webcasting is one of the top cost-effective tools for lead generation.

What if you could bring down your cost per lead even more? Think of the possibilities for your marketing budget.

Repurposing Your Webcasting Content

To optimize your ROI and expand your reach, savor every element of your webcast by repurposing it into new content marketing opportunities:

• The Content: You’re sitting on valuable content. Divide themes into blog posts with new spins or into fresh articles for media pitching. Format your entire presentation into a guide, develop your opinion on a disruptive thought or create a links post to additional resources. Remember this step in the very beginning so you can plant evergreen topics that will give you the most mileage.

• The Speaker: Choose a notable, credible or personable speaker with clout that can further benefit your content marketing. For example, plan a follow-up interview for your blog where your speaker can elaborate, clarify or add opinions on what they discussed.

• The Video: Even if your webcast was live, your entire video recording is now an on-demand resource to market to new viewers. Before you use it for YouTube or email nurturing, consider clipping it up into shorter, bite-size lengths for a series that expands your coverage.

• The Audio: To satisfy an array of consumer preferences, present the webcast audio as a podcast. Along with audio, a webcast transcript can accompany any audio or video to enhance SEO. Translate both your audio and transcript for more global leads, too.

• The Slides: Upload your slides to SlideShare to reach business users that make up their 215 million page views each month. If you did your homework, your slides are full of juicy stats that you can easily turn into an infographic.

• The Q&A: Your audience’s questions and feedback are rich with resources. First things first, answer any unresolved questions, and if you still don’t have the answers, use it as an opportunity to start a discussion. You can do this over Twitter, Facebook or even as a discussion in a relevant LinkedIn group. Secondly, turn great questions and resounding replies into blog posts or FAQs-themed whitepapers.

• Social Media: If you incorporated social media into your webcast, continue the engagement using publicized hashtags to share your repurposed webcast content. Don’t be afraid to have fun on these platforms. Turn resonating quotes into funny memes, or embrace a flub by turning it into a GIF for snackable social content.

You can extend the reach of your web event before it even happens. Leverage that promotional period to send out press releases, emails, social media posts and more.

Webcasts deliver so much potential for lead generation that it’s all the more important to create compelling content, choose a spectacular speaker and collect original data. You’ll also want to use the best webcasting solution available to make sure nothing goes wrong on the technical side.

Take your webcasts to the next level with iMeetLive®, PGi’s cloud-based webcasting solution. Get a free trial before your next thought leadership presentation or product launch.

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Failing to Engage Global Employees? Tap Virtual Town Halls

Employee engagement is what creates brand advocates, a culture of openness and a dynamic workforce. It also keeps your corporate communications team up at night—especially if your employees are scattered across the world.

To keep up with your company’s global growth, you need better tools and techniques, like virtual town halls.

Losing out on Town Hall Engagement?

Nothing engages, inspires and motivates quite like good leadership. By putting your executives’ faces in front of employees, town halls foster trust and personal connections with those not sitting near the C-Suite.

Town halls open up the dialogue with employees, and, by including them in the decision-making process, employees feel valued and motivated by the bigger picture. They’re also a great place to fulfill employee recognition programs and show—not just tell—company values.

However, on a global scale, the costs and complicated logistics of travel and planning for these events can put a halt to town halls, but enterprises that skimp on employee engagement often find less success in their global expansion.

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace study, global companies with successful employee engagement yield greater profits by about 22 percent. Setting up shop in an emerging market is an exciting opportunity for your company to experience new growth, but if your employee engagement overseas is lacking, then your company may find sustaining growth a challenge.

Close the Global Gap Virtually

Here are three ways that virtual town halls can solve your toughest challenges for cross-geographical corporate communications:

Challenge #1: Patting employees on the back when you can’t be there.

To really break into emerging markets, you want workers that positively influence customers and top talent in the local market, which means you need to reward and grow a base of brand advocates. Since you can’t be there to tell top contributors that they’re all getting extra time off for a big local event, and emails don’t truly suffice, you can use virtual town halls to deliver the message live.

Employee recognition remains a cost-effective alternative to pay raises in rewards strategies for global teams, and recognition from managers increases employee engagement by almost 60 percent, according to Officevibe’s infographic.

Challenge #2: Embedding consistent values into global locations with independently fostered workplace cultures.

Websites and emails list but don’t embed company values, and your message isn’t the only thing that communicates them. By displaying your leaders’ behavior, body language and personalities in live, virtual town halls, you can truly show your company’s message.

Challenge #3: Cultivating open communication between leaders and employees they rarely see.

Successful enterprises don’t just leave global branches to carry out tasks like worker bees. Instead, they actively mine for and utilize feedback to create proactive teams overseas.

To open the dialogue, employees need regular face time, authentic conversations and opportunities to share. Virtual town halls are the platform they need to speak up so your leaders can fix problems and execute new ideas that impact productivity at work.

Today’s webinar and webcasting platforms make it easier than ever to deliver cost-efficient, smooth virtual events to thousands of attendees for corporate communications. You’ll see how easy it is to poll and survey employees immediately afterwards to gain valuable feedback and continue engagement, and the creative possibilities to make your events unique and fresh will have your brain firing on all cylinders (social elements, gamification and live streaming, oh my!).

In fact, once you get comfortable with virtual town halls, you can increase the frequency of your events with all of the time and money you’ll be saving on travel. Learn more about the benefits of the international virtual town hall in this case study from TalkPoint by PGi.

Already employing virtual town halls in your global corporate communication strategy? Take the next step and learn how to create more value out of your virtual events.