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1Turning Customers Back On to Telepresence

Got Telepresence?For business looking to reduce travel costs, increase collaboration or even conduct distance training, telepresence offers a compelling solution of high definition, immersive video conferencing. But at a time when so many companies have delayed big capital expenses, telepresence investments may also have fallen by the wayside. Cisco partner and systems integration giant Dimension Data is at the front lines of this disconnect. Solutions manager for converged communications, Mitchell Hershkowitz, talked to Channel Insider about the top seven objections to implementing telepresence and how to answer them.

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Objection 1: We already have video conferencingThese are customers that have been making do by using low end video conferencing products to conduct their high-value work.

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Answer 1: Are you happy with that “video conferencing?"Many customers aren’t. Early implementations were generally difficult to set up and the quality wasn’t very good. Tell your customers to consider the difference between their conventional television at home and their newer HDTV. Which one does the family watch football on?

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Objection 2: It’s too expensiveThe least expensive system is thousands of dollars, and that’s just for one room. Not to mention the bandwidth you need for it.

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Answer 2: Telepresence can reduce other corporate costsYes, the price tag may be high for some, but think about the travel budget savings if your customer’s CEO travels multiple times a year. How many trips could be eliminated? Calculate those hard cost reductions and do the math on the telepresence price tag. In many cases, ROI has come down to 12 months or less, and that doesn’t even include any other soft productivity gains.

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Objection 3: Been there, done thatYeah, we had video conferencing and telepresence, but nobody ever used it. It doesn’t work for our organization.

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Answer 3: Video’s come a long way, babyBack when the customer originally tried video, it wasn’t as pervasive as it is today. Look everywhere and you’ll see it – in outdoor advertising, doctor’s offices, or even your iPhone. Because of that your employees have a higher comfort level with the technology than in years past and are more likely embrace it.

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Objection 4: My infrastructure is inadequateFor customers running older networks, legacy phone systems or other types of aging IT infrastructure, they may need to do an upgrade to realize the benefits of telepresence, and that adds cost.

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Answer 4: Aging infrastructure is a legitimate concern, but…But keep in mind the benefits that could be realized in other areas from an upgraded infrastructure. Consider a consolidated data center, virtualized applications, and the added performance benefits for everything else of upgrading the network. What’s the ROI on that?

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Objection 5: I don’t have the staff to support itSo many companies have cut their IT staffs so that they can barely afford to maintain the infrastructure they already have.

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Answer 5: The roles in IT are changingThis is a relevant concern, and it’s not an easy job to train for. This person is a mix of an AV professional and systems integrator. Perhaps it’s the IP telephony champion who has evolved his or her role. Customers may want to consider outsourcing this role to a technician and a consultant to start with, and that’s where you come in.

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Objection 6: My reputation is on the lineWhen a project has a big price tag, if it doesn’t work out it could be a career killer.

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Answer 6: But the rewards could be great, tooThese projects are best led by C-level executives who hold the influence to ensure that the technology is accepted broadly. But even IT departments can mount internal marketing campaigns to encourage user adoption.

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Slide 14: Objection 7: If you build it they will come. But they didn’t the last time.

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Slide 15: Answer 7: If users are used to traveling, well, it may take some effort to get them to use the telepresence system instead. Or they may forget that it’s there. That’s why it’s important to mount that internal marketing campaign, whoever you are. Send out email reminders. Give out telepresence magnets. Promote the benefits to employees.