These technology tools are fine for distributed content, but at the end of the day the bigger the sale, the greater the chances that it will be pitched, bid, negotiated and ultimately (hopefully!) signed in person. You sell video, you install video, do you use video? OK, that's a softball question, so let's rephrase it: If you are anywhere on the forefront you sell not just any video, but high-definition video. If you sell it, why not use it to sell?
The point here is that HD camcorders are readily available for purchase or rent at very reasonable prices. As we've reported throughout the year from NAB and elsewhere, HD editing tools are also very available and very affordable. Closing the circle, you can use a variety of methods to play HD content back, be it on a DV tape, from the hard drive of a laptop, or using the right compression technology, even on a conventional red-laser DVD (as long as the clip isn't that long).
When playing the clip back in your office, shame on you if there isn't a true HD-native projector or flat-panel display available. Even at a client's location, a quick check on the gear they already have will tell you if you can use their display for HD playback. If that isn't possible or practical, is the benefit of making your sales pitch in the medium you are trying to sell worth the small extra effort of bringing an HD display or projector along for the pitch?
Bottom line: If you use HD, why not sell in HD?
Don't let it end here. Think of all the things you sell and install for retail customers and then use those same technology tools yourself. If you bring a laptop and projector for demos in a client's office, is there messing around with cables and "pushing Function/F8" to setup, or do you use the wireless capability of your computer and projector to show how it can be done? It isn't a question of the demo, it is a matter of seamlessly using a tool every time you make a presentation whether or not the subject technology is part of the bid on the table.
If you have a leave-behind, is it on a disc, or do you have USB "thumb drives" that have your company's name printed on them? Sure, give them a disc, as well, but don't you think that the "tschotska" value of the drive will outlast even the best presentation?
Or, look outside the box to show how technology assists you in ways that prospects or clients might not even imagine. Does your showroom or conference area have a wireless network that visitors can use to access the internet or their own corporate networks and e-mail without fussing with wires? How simple is it for you to get a port on your system that is connected ONLY to the internet and clearly segregated from your own internal system and make it available via 802.11b/g? Easy for them to use, a great piece of hospitality, and a great way to demonstrate your company's networking chops. Everyone's heard of WiFi in coffee places, airports and hotels, but in just the past week I've taken advantage of free wireless in the waiting area of a car dealer's repair shop and the lobby of a hospital. If, for example, you are bidding on the audio, video and security systems for a women's shoe or clothing store, why not use the WiFi access in your own office for visitors as an example of how you can provision it so that "Mr. Macho" customer doesn't mind spending time while his better half shops. He can pacify himself with his WiFi-equipped PDA or one of the forthcoming phones that may combine WiFi and cell technology.
Even simpler, in the same scenario, provide a "charging bar" in the lobby, so that visitors can plug into a standard AC outlet, or use a USB cable to a powered hub you provide to charge the many devices they are carrying while they wait for everyone to arrive. Simple technology, but something that shows how well you know how to adapt to client needs, and, in turn, help them serve retail customers-or those who sometimes wait impatiently alongside the customer.
Anyone can sell, anyone can demo, everyone is confident they have the tools to do the job. What can make just enough of a difference to tip the scales in your favor is how you subtly use these same tools in your own business with both customers and prospects to show that you truly understand the mission.