Webinars a Win-Win for Web Conferencing Sellers, Buyers

One way to boost conferencing sales

is to stop talking about it as a cost-saving communications tool and start talking about it as a profit-making presentation tool.

“It’s gotten to the point that [conferencing is] affordable for everybody. …The education of the market is done; now, it comes down to gaining market share,” says Greg Plum, alternate channel manager, The Conference Group, noting that Web conferencing and collaboration are key to that pursuit.

Vendors like The Conference Group say Webinars, enabled by Web conferencing technologies, have become one of the hottest opportunities for solutions providers to deliver to end users. Those users, in turn, use Webinars to boost their revenue - a true win-win.

A number of conferencing companies have stepped into the breach to help providers sell Webinar-enablement.

The Conference Group, for example, offers ReadyShow WebConference Center to help customers conduct online slideshows, facilitate “follow-me” Web tours, share documents, and stream and archive presentations. The service also offers the ability to conduct preconference and post-conference surveys, customize chat groups within a conference, facilitate online questions and answers as well as note-taking online during a presentation.

“The good news for the industry is the visual component makes conference call last longer and increases revenues for everybody,” says Plum.

Netspoke Conferencing President and CEO Scott D’Entremont says offering Webinars is a great way for providers’ clients to get new customers, thereby helping to ensure those clients return to the same partner over and over again.

Examples of Webinars include education sessions, for which a company charges a fee, or sales presentations as follow-ups to direct marketing.

“A lot of planning goes around these events,” D’Entremont says of Webinars.

“There’s registration, evaluation, detailed reporting to see what lead tracking and ROI was on a particular Webinar …There are pre-and post-meetings that add a lot of value, particularly for marketing departments”

Netspoke is involved in helping users with management tools behind the scenes, which helps set the company apart from others, D’Entremont says.

Netspoke has signed several large master agencies recently, including Telecom Brokerage Inc., MicroCorp and IPx Connect. Each agency has assigned someone to work directly with Netspoke to identify which subagents might have good opportunities, help coordinate training and perform demonstrations of Netspoke’s services. D’Entremont says his company is having good luck with the bigger groups because they dedicate resources to Netspoke, which in turn offers full-time people to work with those agencies.

The company’s Web conferencing capabilities include features such as the Virtual Whiteboard, which lets participants brainstorm as if they were in the same room; file transfer for distributing items such as handouts; Web touring, for surfing the Internet as the audience watches; and more.

In mid June, Raindance Conferencing rolled out Raindance Seminar Edition. The service is best used for applications such as Webinars and provides partners with an upsell opportunity, says Brad Dupee, vice president of channel sales. “Now they have a value-add that could change way a customer does business,” he points out.

The seminar space, he adds, harbors a lot possibilities for partners to make money.

Since Seminar Edition is designed to accommodate large meetings, providers can target executives such as vice presidents of marketing, who often need tools such as this to reach prospects.

For Genesys Conferencing, another provider with a partner program, Webinars also are the hot topic. The company also offers partners a great example of how to capitalize on the technology: affinity marketing. Genesys recently created a series of Webinars for Retex, an association of retailers - a deal it landed through a partner. The biweekly events, called Online Training for Retailers, show Retex member companies how they can use Genesys to conduct internal training, reduce employee travel costs and more. The partnership between Genesys and Retex gives both companies ongoing revenue because Retex earns a percentage, which it passes on to its retailers. If those members use Genesys Web conferencing services, Retex gives them a greater discount than those members would receive by going to Genesys directly.

Genesys plans to run the series through 2005. The Webinars are “a perfect solution for retailers with multiple locations,” says Kristi Rieger, global marketing communications manager for Genesys.

The Retex Webinars illustrate how partners can construct such deals themselves with associations or other affinity organizations. Affinity marketing offers the chance for agents to make ongoing, recurring commissions by providing services to groups and their members. It also is a way for solutions providers to keep their names in front of clients and potential customers.

The Genesys Event Service tool accommodates Web conferencing, especially en masse. Its features include allowing the presenter to follow his or her audience and streaming from the Web so participants do not have to dial in.

Conference Group, The 
Genesys Conferencing
IPx Connect LLC 
MicroCorp Inc. 
Netspoke Conferencing
Raindance Conferencing
Telecom Brokerage Inc.

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