Gary York, CEO at Help Lightning chats about the deepening impact of augmented reality and how these solutions can enable better sales outcomes in this quick catch-up:
Hi Gary, welcome to SalesTechStar, we’d love to get to know you better, tell us about your journey and previous exits/IPO and what led you to Help Lightning?
I’ve been with Help Lightning for more than five years. The company is a perfect blend of what I’m interested in: technology and digital transformation. Prior to joining Help Lightning, I was involved in four successful software and services exits playing various executive or technology leadership roles. Three of these resulted in private sales and one was an IPO. My interests have allowed me to spend the majority of my career pursuing entrepreneurism and research in technical and executive roles with various leading technology companies from Silicon Valley to Birmingham, Alabama.
In what ways do you feel visual assistance software can be beneficial to sales reps today? Can you share a few examples of sales reps from leading brands that use this to facilitate better sales experiences?
Corporate travel expenses dropped nearly 50% in 2021. Sales representatives and prospects are spending less time in conference rooms or on-site to assess needs. The difficulty and cost associated with visiting a prospect’s location or bringing them to you has impacted sales reps’ ability to offer accurate consultations, properly demonstrate product benefits, and build meaningful relationships with their prospects. Enabled by Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities, sales reps can use a tool like remote visual assistance software to be virtually present. This provides a hands-on experience, cultivates prospect relationships and helps more accurately determine how their product can positively impact a potential customer’s operations.
AR not only helps facilitate sales experiences but in many cases acts as a selling point itself in a variety of industries. For example, in laboratory equipment sales, the products offered are costly, precise and vital to the experiments being done. And that work stops when a significant piece of equipment breaks down. Lab customers aren’t just looking for quality and reliability in their products — they demand exceptional service with near-immediate repairs so they don’t lose precious time. Not only can a sales rep use remote visual assistance for a remote sales call, they can leverage the technology as a selling point of their product because the AR capabilities promise a fast, effective service experience. And by showing a prospect that they can use the software to instantly and easily engage with an expert, diagnose problems and make repairs themselves, sales reps can alleviate concerns about the risk of lab time lost to equipment malfunctions.
In the dental industry, sales reps face reluctance from customers who are wary of leaving behind traditional labs for chair-side, digital milling systems. They fear a loss of quality and consistency along with the added responsibility of mastering new technology to serve patients. Sales teams can use AR-enabled technology to dispel those apprehensions and differentiate their products from others in the market by demonstrating the powerful, interactive support built into service delivery. Instead of facing a learning curve with a new piece of technology, dental teams can build their confidence and skill with the backing of an instantly accessed technical expert. It’s one thing to promise customer support as part of a sales pitch — it’s another to immerse prospects in the experience of exceptional support.
With the ongoing hybrid sales world where being connected to prospects via online and offline modes in a way that can drive useful engagement is becoming a challenge, what tips would you share?
The current sales environment will likely continue as organizations further shift to remote or hybrid work and forego travel. Sales leaders must identify tools and software that make the transition seamless and offer lasting impact. However, even with tools like remote visual assistance software, sales reps must make an effort to become familiar with a prospect, their company and potential use cases to better understand key points and messaging when meeting virtually.
As immersive experiences become more prominent over time, how do you see this changing the game for both marketers and salespeople?
Several industries, including manufacturing, engineering and field service, have experienced increased customer experience and satisfaction when using remote visual assistance software. Sales, especially, can leverage the same immersive experience to connect with prospects and close deals. A game-changing capability of video collaboration software is the power to give customers a ‘hands-on’ experience with a product even when they’re across the country or world, unlike a phone call or 2D video demo can provide.
Since we are at it, can you talk about a few AR-driven marketing campaigns in B2B that have caught your attention, how and why?
Apple’s efforts have really stood out to me. In addition to the ARKit it launched for app developers, early this year they released an AR experience “time capsule” to complement the Apple TV+ series “For All Mankind.” The campaign is an exciting way for fans of the show to immerse themselves in the narrative and bring the story into their homes, but it’s more than that. After the prolonged social isolation brought on by the pandemic, it demonstrates the power of being together in a new way: to tell a story, to solve a problem, and in the case of sales, to offer a solution you stand behind. AR offers an experience that goes beyond a phone call or video chat, by letting us inhabit spaces even when we can’t be there physically. I expect more companies that develop with Apple will try out their AR capabilities after seeing the experience they built for the series.
What are some of the other upcoming innovations from the Help Lightning platform that users can look forward to in the near-future?
We recently acquired Fieldbit, an augmented reality-enabled platform that offers innovative knowledge sharing, remote collaboration and workflow automation capabilities. We know Help Lightning customers will benefit from the features Fieldbit brings to the table as we combine the technology of our two companies. We’re enhancing the real-time, expert-led problem solving customers already depend on and clearing the way for Help Lightning to support a variety of self-help scenarios.
Customers can look forward to an industry-leading set of capabilities that include:
- Remote video collaboration and technical support
- 3D annotation
- The industry’s only Merged Reality feature
- Knowledge capture and share
- Work instructions including operational & safety procedures
- Augmenting real-time data from IIoT platforms
Some last thoughts on sales best practices and sales tech must-dos before we wrap up?
Sales technicians should aim to be constantly improving the B2B customer experience. And, in turn, offering clear examples of their unique delivery capabilities through something like an AR-enabled solution, However, it does not replace the sales process. Reps must be diligent in learning about their prospects, recognizing value propositions and building loyalty while using all tools available to close deals. B2B organizations understand the sales process is not the same as 18 months ago, but sales reps, technicians and sales engineers should extend the same effort whether in person or a virtual setting.
Help Lightning is a B2B software as a service (SaaS) company specializing in remote assistance. It provides next generation video collaboration services that enable a company’s experts to work virtually side-by-side with anyone needing help, anywhere in the world.
Gary York is the CEO at Help Lightning.
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