Rob Currie is a technical specialist at the North East Tees Valley Immersive Lab (part of Digital Catapult NETV). Here he shares his tips on selling emerging technology solutions to corporate clients.
I have been working on the NETV Immersive Lab project for almost a year now. Its major goal is to support the adoption of immersive technologies by traditionally non-digital corporate businesses. 'Non-digital' is a really broad term and in my time working within the Lab I have sat down with companies from almost every sector imaginable.
‘Selling’ any new technology can be difficult, as businesses have to first understand the potential of the technology as well as the possible applications for their company. Here are my tried and tested processes to help startups working at the bleeding edge of technology development, to sell their products and services to corporate clients.
Gauge knowledge and understanding
The first point of contact for us would be a sit-down meeting with the client, in the Immersive Lab, in order for us to explain the process that we use. This lets us provide the best onboarding support, as well as discuss their interest in the technology and assessing their level of understanding of the technology’s capabilities.
Usually clients from a corporate background are at the start of their journey, learning about immersive technologies for the first time. Thus the first steps we would take with them are to explore the relevance of the technology based on their type of business.
There is always an element of managing expectations needed when meeting a business for the first time. If a client does not understand the technology fully, they may dismiss it as irrelevant to their business. Alternatively, if they believe in the hype surrounding new products, they may be disappointed when they realise that there are limitations around what’s possible.
We prevent this becoming an issue by explaining the current limitations of the technology, discussing the ways in which the technology can be used (presenting relevant case studies when possible) as well as looking at likely developments in the future.
Provide a technical demonstration
It is all well and good discussing potential applications and internal issues that need a particular technology-based solution, but we often find that the people sitting in the initial meeting have limited or no experience using the technology. This is where the physical assets of the Immersive Lab play a part, as it is home to a large selection of augmented and virtual reality technologies that the client can try themselves.
This gives them a real-life appreciation for what it is capable of, whilst discussing the use cases that are relevant to their business. Being able to try out the hardware, without making any form of commitment or investment, is a great way of allowing people to get used to the idea of using it.
Seeing is believing
Technical demonstrations play on the 'seeing is believing' approach, giving clients a taste of what it would be like to use the technology if implemented in their business. Understanding the capabilities on a more personal level allows them to take first-hand feedback, back to the rest of their team and filter the knowledge through to the relevant people.
If you can turn the person you’re selling to, into an ambassador for your product or service, your chances of closing the sale (or even upselling/ rolling out your technology more widely within their business) dramatically increase.
Everything I have said almost sounds like pure common sense. But it’s important to stick to the basics, considering emerging technologies are, by their nature, going to remain an infantile industry in the eyes of corporate clients. Try to give clients and companies the knowledge and understanding of not only the product, but the industry that works with the product.
This helps to build credibility and peace of mind, that adopting this technology will benefit the client's company as a whole. Being able to make the links between your client’s needs and the technology’s capabilities is very important. It may not seem like much, but this approach has been tried and tested by our team over the last year, and we’ve seen some great successes because of it.
The North East Tees Valley Immersive Lab can be found at PROTO: The Emerging Technology Centre in Gateshead. It provides start-ups and small businesses access to the latest hardware and software for immersive technology development.
Businesses can hire the Lab to develop new content, test out equipment, or as a space to demo content to clients. For full details, visit http://www.sunderlandsoftwarecity.com/project/north-east-tees-valley-immersive-lab/
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