The Limits of Technology

by Rusty Keighron, Field Sales Account Executive, Agency Markets, Vertafore on February 15, 2010 · 3 comments

As agents review their options for new and improved automation, vendors are challenged as to how to best present this wonderful technology to their customers and prospects. Just as in the days that every insurance carrier’s “company man” would visit every agency, most sizable automation vendors had representatives within driving distance who could see you quickly and present their solutions across the conference table. They were expected to make cold calls on agents as time permitted. The better reps would go back even though they had already made a sale! Personally, I’ve never turned down a request to visit a prospect or customer in person.

What the automation vendor shows when they arrive has evolved over the years. When I started working for Redshaw in the early 80’s, they equipped me with a cardboard keyboard and a flip chart. I would gesture at the keyboard and flip the page to show what would appear on the CSR’s screen or printer. If the prospect looked at our subsequent proposal and didn’t have cardiac arrest, I’d usually have a “real system” shipped in heavy circus cases along with a demonstrator. Later came the “sewing machine” Compaq portable computers with heavy monitors, then laptops, and now, the Web.

Gold figure walking out of monitor.jpg

When your business sees value in process improvement though technology, there are a variety of ways this can be demonstrated and installed. In a demonstration, it’s beneficial to both technology vendors (lower travel cost and employee time) and prospective customers (more flexibility in scheduling presentations, more choices to see, and more professional presentations) to have some portion be Web-based.

My suggestions are:

1) If your agency agrees to a remote demonstration, set the goals of what you’d like to see and make them clear at the outset to the presenter. If you’ve already seen similar presentations that cover basically the same material, ask for speedier introductory material or ask the vendor to emphasize what they feel are their strengths.

2) Make sure you involve and brief all who will participate in the decision, and that they are available to attend.

3) If possible, try to have a reseller or representative on-site when making a presentation. If that isn’t the case, understand that the presenter can’t see your facial expressions or non-verbal clues. Ask to stop the presentation right away if something isn’t clear.

4) Take a remote presentation as seriously as you would an in-person meeting. Be prompt, introduce everyone in attendance, encourage input from all involved, and let your staff know that you’re not to be interrupted unnecessarily. If someone new enters the meeting, let the presenter know.

5) If the presentation involves a web-based video presentation, make sure there is a projector or screen and speakerphone that’s appropriate to the audience. If you can’t see, hear, or understand, stop the presenter immediately.

6) When it comes to training and implementation, consider your past experience with what methods of training work best. It’s worth the difference in cost to have someone there in person if your agency learns better in that mode. Make sure that, if part of the installation requires a technical resource, that they are available and prepared.

Whether virtually by Web, at a Conference, or in your office, I look forward to seeing you soon!

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  • Michael Trouillon

    Ahh the good ole Redshaw system…in our agency we had a Wang combined keyboard and monitor. Smallish green screen and it would only fit in one place. How different it is compared to today with larger screens, more screen and the distraction of the internet!

    Great post Rusty, hopefully in the remote situation the presenter remembers to go slow enough to allow everyone to see what is happening and to frequently stop to ask "any questions" to make sure everyone is still there.

    Personally, I think it would also be nice if the receiving group had a camera (and presenter as well) so that there is some type of "connection" between the two.


    • Michael, many of us remember those days. I agree with you on the speed of training. However, I find it applies to both online training as well as on site training. I also agree that online training should be by video conferencing. The trainer should be able to see the reactions and body language of those being trained. Thanks for commenting on Rusty's post.
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