Lets say Susie is a sales rep and she’s meeting a customer in her office. The customer asks a question that Susie doesn’t know the answer to, and she doesn’t know who to ask.
Phone or video are not good choices here because Susie doesn’t know who to call. A mass email may take hours before the correct party checks their email. A personal IM is not helpful for the same reason phone and video aren’t. But a broadcast-style IM a la Chatter is a perfect, immediate, non-intrusive way to get the question out to a broad number of teammates.
Once one of Susie’s teammates responds that he can answer the question, we now move toward more synchronous communication. Susie can respond by asking her coworker if he’s available to talk to the customer right now. If he isn’t, he can quickly detail the answer for her. If he is, we move on to the next step.
Video, rather than phone or email, is perfect for introducing customers to backend support personnel. Research shows that trust levels are often at or near those of physical face-to-face meetings. Let’s call Susie’s coworker Marv, and Marv the engineer has now been introduced directly to the customer. This face-to-face with an engineer increases the customer’s confidence that whatever answer he receives will be on the mark. It also gives Marv a chance to discover what customers expect for support once the sale has been made.
A great advantage of a video meeting over a face-to-face discussion is that the participants have all sorts of information at their fingertips they otherwise wouldn’t have. Using collaboration tools Marv can show Susie and the customer any pictures, charts, spreadsheets, widgets, whatever, that will help them out. Likewise, when it’s time to discuss paperwork with the customer, Susie can call her sales supervisor and remotely co-edit contracts, marketing materials, etc.
Granted, every sale and sales process is different. But we’ve experienced several scenarios quite like this one, and hope that outlining can help you effectively implement these tools in your organization.