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With the help of Brainshark's on-demand Web events, Corporate Visions sees record sales in its consulting business.
For the rest of the December 2009 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Consider this a double whammy that a company with a name like Corporate Visions wishes it saw coming: The provider of on- and offline consulting and training to sales and marketing professionals was suddenly eyeing not just an industrywide drop in attendance at physical events, but also struggling to deal with the effects of the lag time following registration for any online component. The combination was complicating the delivery of Corporate Visions’ expertise.

Tim Riesterer, the company’s senior vice president of strategic consulting and chief marketing officer, says he knows firsthand the difficulty of turning registrants into attendees. “I’m notorious for registering for an event and then at the last minute not showing up,” Riesterer says. Corporate Visions’ traditional Web events were no exception, he adds, with the number of registrations per event averaging in the 30s—and a disappointing 27 percent attendance rate on the day of the event weeks later. Registrants forgot to show up, or their interest had cooled, or, frankly, they just blew it off. 

Riesterer recalls that, when he joined the company in August 2008, marketing delivered no more than five quality leads a month to sales. In fact, he adds, “zero percent of closed business was coming from marketing.” 

At least he had nowhere to go but up. As part of an overall effort to improve marketing’s role, Corporate Visions began evaluating solutions that would satisfy interest more quickly. In early 2009, attention turned to Brainshark, a provider of presentation software, to create on-demand Web events that could be delivered in just minutes. “The idea is to strike while the iron is hot,” Riesterer says, “then give [users] the flexibility to watch [the content] when it’s convenient.” 

Registrations for a Corporate Visions event now run between 100 and 350, 

96 percent of whom watch at least part of the Web content. In the month of August 2009 alone, despite a 50 percent cut in the marketing department’s staff, the sales pipeline received 

111 qualified leads. This significant year-over-year bump, Riesterer says, was “due in large part to marketing-created Brainshark emails that drove leadership campaigns, product promotions, and online and offline event invitations.” 

With Brainshark, salespeople are now more likely to get a response than they had been with Corporate Visions’ traditional voicemail and HTML-based email invites. And we’re not talking about a tiny uptick: The sales team is reporting a 71 percent increase in response rates for product campaigns (a white paper or article download) and monthly live executive events (e.g., a response to the invitation or a request to speak to a sales rep). 

Sales and marketing aren’t the only ones to benefit from Brainshark’s capabilities. Corporate Visions’ product team has been able to convert all of the materials required before an in-person course—content the company calls into elements delivered by Brainshark. “We found ourselves having to apologize for the pre-work when we started the training,” Riesterer says. “Now the ratings for our pre-work are through the roof.” Formerly long, inflexible videos are now broken down into digestible pieces known as Brainsharks. The positive reception has actually prompted Corporate Visions to create more pre-work for users’ benefit. 

The company has also taken some of its classroom, in-person instruction courses and turned them into modular, self-paced Brainsharks. Given today’s economic pressures, Corporate Visions found that most marketing and salespeople don’t want to take time away from their jobs to train. Moreover, the greatest pain point after delivering the actual training was stickiness. 

“Any great training still fades through time,” Riesterer says. “The best we could do [was] send out monthly email reminders of what you learned in the classroom…but a 24/7 reinforcement center makes a lot more sense.” Corporate Visions has developed a “sustainability product” on the Brainshark platform that allows paid subscribers to go back to the online content and refresh their memories anytime. With the new format, feedback reveals 86 percent of customers favor on-demand learning over any classroom-based course they’ve ever taken. 

“In our industry, everyone’s fighting [just] to stay flat,” Riesterer says, but Corporate Visions enjoyed record sales in the second quarter of this year, and expects to break that again in the third quarter. Riesterer doesn’t give Brainshark all the credit for the success, but praises the platform as an integral part of the initiatives taken to ramp up overall performance. “We’re a 20-year-old company,” he says, “and we’re having the biggest quarter in our history—in this economy.”  

THE PAYOFF

With Brainshark, Corporate Visions has been able to:

  • increase Web-event registrations in some cases more than 10-fold, from an average of 30 to as many as 350 attendees;
  • improve the attendance/viewing rate from 27 percent to 96 percent;
  • improve marketing’s lead contribution from fewer than five leads in August 2008 to 111 the following August;
  • raise consumer ratings for its training prep work;
  • set, in this year’s second quarter, its best-ever quarter for sales; and
  • improve consumer response rates to its live events and product campaigns by 71 percent.

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