Many business owners are wondering how they are supposed to conduct business when there are stay-at-home orders and people are generally afraid to be interacting physically in public places. We’d like to remind everyone that just because clients and prospects don’t want to meet in your office doesn’t mean that they don’t want to meet.
People are still in need of the services that typically start with a face-to-face consultation. Attorneys, financial advisors, accountants, insurance agents, and even contractors like home builders, roofers, HVAC techs, and electricians can benefit from offering virtual consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic. They can also use a number of virtual tools to continue with their other daily functions remotely.
We’re here to share some of our recommendations for software and digital services that businesses in a variety of industries can use to keep operations running while many of their competitors will be down.
While new to the space, Zoom has already made a major impact in the business world. They offer video conferencing with one-on-one and group settings, as well as screen sharing options that allow you to show your meeting attendee(s) what’s on your screen, which is very helpful for demonstrations. Zoom has a free plan that allows you to hold as many one-on-one appointments as you want. You can also have group appointments with up to 100 people and use screen sharing, but you will be limited to a 40 minute time frame unless you pay for one of the subscription options. The “Pro” subscription is only $14.99/month with options for larger businesses priced at $19.99/month.
- Free Basic plan, affordable subscription plans
- Compatible with Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android
- Group messaging, screen sharing, and more
- “Raise Hand” feature keeps people from talking over each other
- Does not feature call-in capability
Skype has been used for video conferencing for years. Whether you want to hold one-on-one appointments with clients or conference with your staff who are working remotely. It is available as a mobile or desktop app. Both require you to download the application. If you have a subscription to Office 365, you already have a login to Skype.
- Included in Microsoft Office 365
- Features include screen share, polls, Q&A, whiteboard, instant messaging, and more
- Inexpensive and easy to install
- Up to 250 people per meeting
- Sound quality varies by bandwidth
- Synchronization issues
- Customers report issues with 25+ people on a call
FaceTime is both a mobile and desktop app that has many of the benefits of Zoom and Skype, but without software to download. It is only compatible with Apple products.
- Comes with iPhones, Macs, and iPads
- Can video chat with up to 32 people
- No download or setup required
- Can only be used between Apple product users
This platform is designed around impromptu meetings and screen sharing. You can be on the phone with someone and give them a url as well as a code that allows you to share your screen with them. It can be helpful when you need to show a client or employee a presentation, document, video, etc. They can also share their screen with you so that you can show them how to download a form, troubleshoot an issue, etc. The lite version is $10/month for 5 viewers.
- Easy screen sharing
- You download software but the clients don’t
- Machine control to other participants
- Share files and chat
- Available for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac
- Ability to record meetings
- Users have reported minor video and audio lagging
- You can’t start a meeting on a smartphone
This is an excellent tool for webinars that has been around for a long time and is very intricate. You can host webinars of up to 5,000 attendees and give engaging presentations. This tool is great for group presentations because it allows you to interact with the attendees by asking questions and doing polls. It also gives you real-time analytics that show you who is engaging with the presentation so you can identify which guests are more eager to learn and more likely to buy. GoToWebinar integrates with several CRM systems including Salesforce, which allows you to export data from your webinars into your prospect and customer lists. It also offers automated reminder emails and accepts payments. For $59/month you can hold webinars with up to 100 attendees.
- Capability to hold up to 5,000 attendees
- Archive recorded webinars for one year
- Real-time analytics and lead management
- Editing tools for pre-recorded webinars
- Phone-in option with toll-free number
- More expensive
- No breakout rooms available
- Requires you to purchase separate software to collect attendee payments via GoToWebinar
- Not as many third-party integrations as some competitors
So which option makes the most sense for your business?
The key to choosing a video conferencing tool is choosing something that you think your clients and prospects will actually want to use. The options that require them to download software are less appealing than the ones that can connect them to you with a url and code. Choose the option that makes communicating simple and convenient for your intended audience.
Additional Digital Tools You Should Familiarize Yourself With
This is a screencasting tool that lets users record audio, video, browser windows, or entire screens in Google Chrome. It provides great tutorials to get you oriented and show you how the tool can be used for various functions. Users can choose to record from their webcam, one browser tab, or their whole screen (with or without audio). After you finish recording, it automatically saves your video and you can trim out any parts you don’t want included. You can show your screen while allowing yourself to be seen in the bottom corner, adding some personality to your pitch. $8.00/month.
Slack is a great communication tool if you have staff that you need to be in touch with throughout the day. Slack includes one-on-one and group instant messaging and file sharing. It keeps remote teams productive and cooperative. Rather than giving you one inbox stuffed with messages, your messages are separated into channels and it is easy to find the conversations you need to.
Calendy is a scheduling tool that allows you to schedule meetings without back-and-forth emails. It is very simple to set up and once you set your availability and preferences, it does all the work for you. You can share Calendy links via email or embed it on your website so that clients and prospects can book an appointment when you are available. It also integrates with your Google, Outlook, Office 365, or iCloud calendar, so you will never get double-booked. Between now and June, this service is providing free integration with Zoom and GoToWebinar. That means you can offer appointments while presenting seamlessly. The Pro version integrates Salesforce and if you use Zapier, you can integrate other CRM’s such as Redtail and Wealthbox. Their basic service is free.
Acuity Scheduling can view your availability and book their own appointments. They can also make online payments and reschedule easily. It automatically sends reminders and collects the client’s important information as soon as they book. You can have them fill out a pre-qualifying intake form. It can be integrated with online conference services, such as GoToMeeting and Join.Me, payment processors like Square, Stripe, and PayPal, messaging and mass email services like MailChimp, ConvertKit, and Aweber, and compatibility with CRM advisors.
Online faxing service that makes sending and receiving documents in a digital format simple and convenient. It offers annual and monthly subscriptions, starting at $16.95/month with a $10 setup fee. That plan includes the ability to send 150 and 150 faxed pages per month.
This tool makes it easy to create, review, edit, and approve contracts. It has custom contract templates and a library of contract terms and clauses to streamline the process. It makes compliance simple for sales, marketing, and administrative team members. You can spend less time creating documents and ensure they are 100% compliant with Pandadoc.
This tool allows you to securely sign, send, and manage documents remotely. You can digitally sign documents and get documents signed by others with ease. It offers military-grade encryption and ensures complete data security.
SmartDocs is used to deliver estimates, proposals, contracts, change orders, lien wavers, customer surveys, and more! It is a great tool to replace in-person consultations for many industries. It also includes e-sign which lets you create legally binding documents quickly.
Learn More and Start Adapting Your Business to Remote Work
So many industries rely on human interaction. In a time when it is unsafe to interact physically, businesses can still connect digitally in an impactful and effective way. Many of our clients are having to quickly adapt to doing business remotely, and we are assisting them in the transition in a number of ways.
We have used all of these digital tools and we can help you determine what your business will need to continue to provide value to your customers. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are answers to the questions business owners are having now. Contact us today to speak with a digital marketing specialist to discuss how your business can integrate digital tools to continue to stay connected, remotely.