Toronto firm’s sales soar with online video presentations

It’s every firm’s dream — a sales professional who is paid once, but can deliver knockout sales pitches, demos and customer support presentations 24×7.

Those are just the kind of salespersons Interchange Solutions Inc. has put to work … virtually that is.

The Markham, Ont.-based firm makes customer relations management (CRM) apps for the BlackBerry and other mobile devices based on the IBM/Lotus Collaborative Platform.

Visit the company’s Web site any time, day or night, and you can access an online video featuring one of Interchange Solution’s hired presenters.

And the fact that they are “virtual” doesn’t make them any less effective.

In fact, use of online video presentations to complement in-person live sales pitches has sharply hiked closing rates, according to John Durst, vice-president of sales at Interchange Solutions.

What’s more, these virtual presenters have also freed up the firm’s field sales force.

Here’s a sample of Interchange Solution’s online marketing video

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“The videos have reduced our sales personnel’s workload by as much as 10 per cent, while bumping up our closing rate 25 per cent.”

Prior to deploying the video modules, Durst said, sales professionals often spent at least an hour with clients, attempting to explain the various features and benefits of the company’s offerings.

But since they started using customized videos developed by eMotion Picture Studios   of Burlington, Ont. and marketing agency Sienna Advertising of Markham, Ont., many customers have been meeting with Interchange Solutions sales representatives “almost fully prepped.”

Durst said the online videos — each about 10 minutes long — cover topics such as: sales, marketing, mobility (application deployment on a BlackBerry), billing, and application customization.

Presenters discuss various aspects and features of the company’s two main CRM apps for mobile devices: Salesplace and Salesnow.

Besides showcasing these two apps, the videos also act as a competitive differentiator for the Markham-based software company that competes with the likes of Salesforce.com, according to Mike Lee, president of Sienna Advertising.

Sienna handled the creative for the videos.

The videos, Lee said, help potential clients make a purchasing decision, while presenting Interchange Solution as an authority in the field.

But while online videos have huge potential as a marketing tool, experts say their effectiveness hinges on firms doing certain things.

The first is charting a direction before cutting into action, according to, certified Apple technology trainer Tim Hagen, who is a partner at video production firm eMotion Picture Studios.

Hagen specializes in video editing applications, such as Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Server and DVD Studio.

“Many businesses can make successful videos themselves if they follow a few rules,” Hagen said.

For instance, he said, forgetting to include a “call to action” in the marketing video is a very common mistake.  

So the firm ends up producing a video that very nicely explains a product or service, but then leaves users hanging — not knowing what action they need to take.

“Like any sales pitch, a good video has to entice viewers to do something: sign up for a subscription, contact a representative, include something in a shopping cart, or make a purchase.”

Hagen said firms can also improve the chances of their video being viewed if they deliver it in a widely-used format. For instance, nearly 90 per cent of computer users have machines ready to accept Flash videos.

Here are a few more tips from Hagen:

1. Make it look slick – Have an uncluttered background for your video. Keep the background consistent with the image your business is promoting. For example, if you’re selling recreational products outdoor scenes and fun activities might be useful but they could be inappropriate for other products.

2. Pick a professional presenter – Some executives may have a good on-camera personality, but not everyone can pull it off, says Hagen. A good video needs a person who can look straight into the camera, speak clearly and convey the message in the appropriate tone. If, you’re unsure about in-house talent, consider hiring a professional actor or presenter to do the job.

3. Sound advice – Many in-house videos are shot using the camera’s built-in microphone. This can lead to bad audio which can ruin the impact of your video. Invest in good audio by purchasing lavaliere microphones and wire up the presenter about four to five inches under the chin.

4. Short and sweet – Many viewers have a very short attention span. Unless they have chosen to watch an instructional video, such as those from Interchange Solutions, two to three minutes should be good enough, according to Hagen. “Only 36 per cent of viewers are prepared to watch online videos longer than two minutes.”

5. Adding metadata – Once you’ve created the video, embed keywords that help Google Web crawlers find it easily. This will boost traffic to the video.

He said the Google Keywords tool could be used to suggest the best keywords for the title and video description. This will help you video pop up more often when people do an online search.

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