As a result of the COVID-19 epidemic and the resulting restrictions in social contacts, gatherings and movement of people as well as international trade fairs and open houses have ground to a halt and many manufacturers have decided to showcase their products online.
But what does that mean for the customers?
How can you prepare yourself to make the most of a virtual demonstration?We tried to answer these and other questions in a short interview with Gianluca Buzzoni, BLM GROUP Area Manager for the Polish and Russian markets.
One-to-one or one-to-many. What kind of virtual demonstration should you choose?
"I personally prefer one-to-one demos because I can show the customers exactly what they need, answer their questions and establish more effective and direct contacts.
One-to-many demos, on the other hand, can be an excellent tool to promote the machine but they are necessarily more generic in nature and sometimes include features that some customers already know or can easily find in the catalogue or online".
How do you prepare for a virtual demonstration?
"Once the customer has contacted us, I analyze their needs, the type of machine they require and the features that will be most useful for them in their daily work. We use all this information to prepare the demo.
When the virtual meeting starts, the customer has already examined the machine catalogues, watched the machining videos and obtained a general idea of the product. This means we can make the most of the demo time.
Another key advantage is that the customer can see our software at work directly on their screen, in addition to the machine".
What are the most important technical aspects to take into account?
"What I personally find most important is that the speaker sees exactly the same thing on the screen as the customer. This allows us to explain every detail of the machine or work process with extreme precision.
In addition to this, in a virtual demo, you can reach processing points with the video camera that would normally be concealed from the human eye. Take the Lasertube systems for instance, in which the cutting must take place inside a closed class C1 enclosure, but also the possibility of watching the tube bending process from different and very close angles or perspectives".
What advice can you give to virtual demonstration participants?
"In one-to-one demos, we can focus on the customer's exact needs and this is why I sometimes advise the customer to send us the part they want to make on the machine or a typical workpiece.
During the demo, we can cut it, make live modifications using the Artube CAD/CAM or the other programming software of the BLMelements suite, in exactly the same way the customer will do once the machine is purchased.
I can also advise the participant to ask for informative material, such as catalogues, video links, websites or whatever else is useful to gain useful knowledge of the product before a virtual demonstration.
Other aspects that are often underestimated, but I recommend that you ask before attending a virtual demo, especially in the case of one-to-many presentations, are the speaker's language and the precise time of the demonstration.
- Speaker's language: While it is possible to ask for clarification if something is not understood in one-to-one demonstrations, it is difficult to do so in one-to-many demos. Sometimes this problem is solved by the local agent who goes to the customer and joins him for the demo, intervening when necessary. Also in this respect, the widespread local presence of the BLM GROUP is a fundamental guarantee not only in Poland and Russia but also in many other countries around the world.
- Time: You need to schedule the time according to your own commitments, but also with those of the other people who will be attending".
In a virtual demonstration, you can reach processing points with the camera that normally would not be accessible to the human eye, such as the cutting area of the Lasertube systems, where the processing must take place inside a closed class C1 enclosure to ensure compliance with current safety regulations.
What was the opinion of customers who participated in virtual demonstrations of BLM GROUP systems?
"I would like to say that I much prefer direct contact with customers. Virtual demos are a necessary tool in these difficult times but, like my co-workers, I hope to go back to meeting customers again in person soon.
Despite this, I must say that all the customers who took part were satisfied. Many doubts and perplexities arise when thinking about taking part in a virtual event. For this reason, everyone was pleasantly surprised by the quality and possibilities offered by this tool.
In general, customers have appreciated not only the convenience of being able to see everything from the comfort of their own office, but in our case, also the quality of the equipment used and the fact that we have a double camera, one for filming the entire machine and the various loading and unloading operations and the other focused only on the work area.
Another very appreciated aspect was the possibility of being able to focus attention on the elements of interest, seeing them very close up in high resolution as would not be possible in a live event. The customer often asks us to look closely at a detail rather than a specific job. With these tools, we can focus the customer's attention exactly on a precise point and moment".