Top trends in virtual selling with video
Erik Boos and Mark Zondler, the founders and managing directors of Snapview, examine the trends in video conferencing. They consider hybrid selling, secure data and sustainability the driving forces behind today’s virtual selling.
We cannot turn the clock back. Digital selling was an important topic in the economy even before the Coronavirus pandemic, and selling by video conferencing has been established for years in large parts of the finance and tourism industries. In addition, the use of services such as FaceTime, WhatsApp or Skype in people’s personal lives led to a gradual spilling of video conferencing into the corporate world. The pandemic was a catalyst for this trend, accelerating it.
With Snapview GmbH, the BSI world now has a pioneer among video conferencing providers on board. To be precise, we, Erik Boos and Mark Zondler, Snapview’s founders, have been working with this technology for more than 15 years. Yet even industry veterans like us could not predict the breakneck pace of the past two years.
Trend No. 1: Hybrid sales
Something that we, at Snapview, have known for a long time – we have always been a decentralized organization – and, literally, appeal to companies to commence has proven to be true in the course of our pandemic-induced working from home (WFH) and mobile working. The most important finding applies to all industries and ranks: Selling by video conferencing works.
Many companies have switched their sales to video conferencing during the pandemic, and 96% of all companies in Germany want it to stay this way in the future, often because it has been and continues to be their only opportunity to achieve their sales goals. After all, visiting customers on-site is currently either impossible or only possible to a very limited degree.
In addition, many companies and organizations have come to realize this:
Flexible scheduling results in earlier customer contacts, and speed leads to success. Customers are impatient, and whoever offers an appointment first is the first to score and has the best chance to close the sale.
The third insight in this context is that advisors and salespeople spend less time traveling and can utilize this time to communicate with their customers more frequently, which makes them more productive. Presumably, the world will outlive the Coronavirus, and the pandemic will end. Yet will this mean a return to the old normal? Hardly. First, people want their work to be more mobile, which will keep the increased use of video conferencing at least at the current level or will even accelerate it. In addition, the virtual selling that evolved during the pandemic has been standard for advisors and customers in many industries and sectors for a long time.
Secondly, people yearn for personal encounters, which became evident last summer, for instance, when the incidence rate was low. We want to see each other again. Consequently, the future of sales will be hybrid. There will be no going back to the traditional sales model, and a combination of virtual and on-site appointments will take its place in the future.
“The most important finding applies to all industries and ranks: Selling by video conferencing works.”
Trend No. 2: Sustainability
This type of communication also comes with a critical advantage. When you eliminate travel times and expenses, sales become more sustainable because you conserve resources. Even before the advent of the “Fridays for Future” movement, the focus in society shifted increasingly to sustainability, and there is a desire for investments, mobility, and communication to be, ideally, both cost-effective and environmentally friendly in the future. And while big company cars, long trips and time-consuming traffic jams are neither, a hybrid sales approach fulfills both premises.
Undoubtedly, the lockdowns during the Coronavirus pandemic were a challenge for many companies and families. On the other hand, the ramped-down travel has resulted in significantly lower emissions of air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, as is evidenced by satellite images. These images from NASA and ESA prove that we do just fine with less business travel and, consequently, less air pollution.
Yet, sustainability in sales principally means selling sustainable products – products we do not throw away after a short while but use for years, at best for decades.
Translated into our company’s products, this means software products of the highest quality that are customizable to our needs and constantly changing framework conditions, thus making them future-proof.
Trend No. 3: Data protection
When we talk about sustainability, we must also take data protection into account. It is just as much a part of respectful interaction and appreciation for each other as protecting the environment and conserving resources. Yet data protection is a difficult topic today since Europe and the U.S. have been in a never-ending battle over the handling of personal data. Schrems II, the CLOUD Act and the Patriot Act make one thing clear: Not only is it important where data is stored but, above all, who accesses the data. Servers in Europe are not automatically protected against access by U.S. secret services or companies. Anyone wanting GDPR-compliant security today should not be working with US-American providers.
Here is the background information: Negotiations between the EU and the U.S. about Privacy Shield 2.0 have been ongoing for many months. The parties are now on their third attempt to find a stable foundation for the processing of EU citizens’ data by U.S. companies. Some believe an agreement is imminent, while others believe that the positions are far apart and that a transatlantic data protection deal is a long way off.
Berlin’s Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information is one of the supporters of the latter view. She has long warned against the use of WebEx, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams and numerous other U.S. video conferencing systems. Her counterpart in Hamburg recently issued an official and specific warning against Zoom because the transmission of personal data to the U.S. associated with its use violates the German data protection law.
We know from many discussions that in the financial sector, for instance, secure and data protection-compliant communication is already one, if not the most important, selection criterion for a video conferencing solution.
About the Authors: Mark Zondler and Erik Boos founded Snapview in 2006. The two business administration graduates fulfilled a lifelong dream by starting their own company. Snapview is based in Munich, has 30 employees currently and has been doing groundbreaking work in video conferencing solutions, especially in the financial sector. The company became a part of BSI Software AG in 2021.