Alyson Baber and Steve Snyder of Zoom Video Communications join us to talk about the power of video conferencing as a tool for direct selling and network marketing. Video conferencing lets you reach and support a larger—potentially global—network, cut travel time and costs, and make a stronger connection than you can with audio conferencing alone.
Kenny: Hello and welcome to the latest episode of the MLM.com Podcast. I’m your host, Kenny Rawlins and on today’s episode, we are going to be joined by two members of the Zoom team. Zoom.us is a video conferencing service and we are joined by Alyson Baber and Steve Snyder.
Alyson is a sales leader at Zoom Video Communications and manages a sales team spread out across three locations in the U.S., as well as, two different segments of Zoom. With over 12 years of sales and management experience and a background in Chemical Engineering, she has experience in working in many different areas from medical devices to software as a service.
She loves to lead, inspire and collaborate with her team members to show them they are capable of great things. She’s passionate about building high performing teams from the ground up and motivating others to achieve more than they thought possible. She lives in Denver with her husband and two-year-old daughter.
Steve is an account executive at Zoom Video Communications. He works with Zoom’s network marketing and direct sales customers to ensure that they are getting the most out of their investment with Zoom. He has over 13 years of experience developing new business, creating strategic partnerships, and executing go-to-market strategies for start-ups and global companies. Steve has also started several small businesses and has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
I personally am excited to talk to Steve and Alyson. I think technology is one of the key ways that we can improve the direct selling space and video conferencing is certainly one of those ways. Welcome Steve and Alyson. Thanks for joining us today.
Steve: Well, thanks for having us.
Alyson: Yeah, thanks Kenny. Nice to be here.
Kenny: To get started, just a real quick overview or a real quick introduction. I wonder if one of you, maybe Alyson, could walk us through a little bit of Zoom’s history? I was in San Francisco just last weekend going to a couple of Giants’ games and saw Zoom advertising all over. But for anybody who’s not super familiar with you guys, maybe give us a little bit of background?
Alyson: Oh, nice. I’m jealous. I used to live in San Francisco and I’m a big Giants fan, so I’m a little jealous that you got to go the games, but we’re definitely doing a lot of advertising in the bay area.
But for those of the listeners that haven’t heard of Zoom, Zoom is a video conferencing company that was founded in 2011 by our CEO, Eric Yuan. He was the first engineer at WebEx, which was later acquired by Cisco and his original code is actually still used today. But, he eventually left, because of the conflict that he was experiencing with the leadership at Cisco. They really didn’t want to create a collaborative environment and have all the different products work together.
So, he saw an opportunity there and left to start Zoom and with that, he brought over 40 engineers with him. They felt the same way that he did, believed in his vision, and joined them on this great journey to start Zoom. That to me, I think, is a true example of a visionary leader—to have an idea without any support and have 40 people join you and leave the stability of their jobs. So, that’s where Zoom got its start and that’s really what helped us to get to where we are today.
Kenny: Well great. Thanks for that background and yeah, I’m excited to talk to you guys about video conferencing and kind of where it’s going and where it’s come from, because I think especially within the direct selling space, it’s a pretty unique thing where you’ve got entrepreneurs that are working with other entrepreneurs all over the country and sometimes even all over the globe and video conferencing can obviously be a powerful tool.
Now, one of the things that I’ve seen in my time in the industry, is technology can oftentimes be intimidating to people. And it seems like in the past few years we’ve seen a lot more adoption of video conferencing. And I’m sure that there’s a bunch of reasons that factor into that. But I’m curious what you guys are seeing and if you’re seeing it become more popular, more widespread. Where do you think we are in the evolution pattern?
Alyson: That’s a really great question Kenny. And I think Zoom has played a big part in driving that adoption and really helping to get people comfortable with video conferencing. More and more people now are working remotely or they have remote offices at their companies or their teams are dispersed. And so, you know, having an alternative to your standard audio conferencing or email really helps to build that relationship with your coworkers and your team mates that may be spread out across the country, even across the world.
The same thing with customers. When you have customers that are spread out across the country—or teams like in a direct selling or network marketing organization—you know, it really helps to have something where you feel like you’re connecting face-to-face with someone, and making it easier to do so. So, with Zoom, you can join via the computer. You can join via mobile. With companies, you can join via conference room. So there are really a lot of ways that you can connect face-to-face to make you feel like you are really a part of that team or having that one-on-one connection or that one-on-one relationship. Whereas with audio conferencing or just a standard phone call or email, it’s really hard to decipher tone alone or, whether or not, someone’s really picking up what you’re putting down or, you know, if they’re even paying attention most of the time.
So, with video there’s a lot more information transfer, you really help to build that relationship and that partnership. And you know, we find it to be a lot more of a true interaction.
Steve: Absolutely. And to build on Alyson’s point, it’s less intimidating because it’s easier to use. Right? So now we can one-click start and join a meeting. It’s a lot easier than it used to be too to get on and the quality’s a lot higher. So, it’s seeing a higher adoption rate as well.
Kenny: Well, and to play into that Steve, I think—like you say—the ease of it is very important. Also—and this sounds like one of the things that you were hitting on, Alyson—one of the things that used to be difficult with video conferencing was downloading all the drivers and making sure that you could get your camera to connect. And now, more and more—especially with like mobile phones and things like that—you can just connect, call in, and you’re on.
And one of the things that kind of illustrates that ease to me is you know, I’ve got a great mother, but she’s not super technically savvy and my youngest brother is her, like, full-time technical support and they use Zoom and FaceTime and other tools like that, all the time, so that he can just say, “Okay, show me what you’re looking at mom”, and she can just show him and it’s easy enough for her to get on. The video conferencing doesn’t become an obstacle, which I think for a long time it was.
And that probably plays into different ways that people are using video conferencing. And I’d be curious—as you guys are working with leaders and companies—how are people making use of video conferencing in the direct sales space?
Steve: Sure, so in our segment of customers in network marketing and direct sales, we kind of look at it in two different avenues. Right? So, one’s distributors and the other is leaders. So, kind of grouping those customers in two segments since they have slightly different use cases—same end goal, but slightly different use cases here. So, from a distributors’ perspective, they’re using Zoom to increase their productivity. Right? There’s this just kind of a direct formula where the more meetings you can have, means that you’re going to have an increase in opportunities and the more opportunities you can have is going to translate into an increase in sales.
And then you compare those, compare a work flow from an individual that’s going to have face-to-face meetings in a given day versus, let’s say, virtual meetings throughout the day. Just take a look at the work flow. Right? So, if someone’s going to have an in-person meeting or have a couple—if they’re able to organize a few in a geographic location—then they have to drive to that location, they have to pay for parking, they have to pay for some coffee, meet that individual, pay for lunch… And then, if you’re able to, schedule another meeting in the same area. Then you have to drive home. So basically, you’re limiting the number of meetings that you’re able to get to a day, whereas I work with a couple of customers now—actually one of which is the top earner in his organization and he’s done so by leveraging video communications. And what that’s allowed him to do is basically (1) reach a larger audience, but (2) also have more meetings in a day. Right? So, he’s just that much more productive.
Alyson: Yeah, I think to add on that too, you know, I’m a leader of a team here at Zoom and I have some of my colleagues in Austin, I have some here in the Denver location, I have some in Santa Barbara, and I have another one, that’s going to be starting on Monday, in San Jose. And so, my teammates are really dispersed across the country and if I want to quickly pull everyone together for a short 15-minute huddle or maybe have a team strategy session, we can quickly hop into a zoom meeting, pull everyone into one meeting—because Zoom has the capacity to go up to 50 participants, just on our standard entry level product—and really have that collaboration, instead of having disjointed meetings and having to relay messages and make sure that I didn’t forget something when talking to another person. And so, from a leadership standpoint, I think it really helps to reduce the time when you’re meeting with other team members, but also really engage all of them together in one place and feel like you’re in the same room or you’re in the same setting.
So, not only saving on the time that it takes to have that meeting, but potentially saving on travel costs and just saving time and making sure that you’re relating all of the information accordingly.
Steve: And that’s absolutely right. So, what I’m seeing from the leaders that I’m working with, they’re using Zoom or other video communications to enable themselves to manage larger networks. So, just like Alyson had said, I’m working with other organizations that have a global network. Right? So they can have instant meetings with either a group—so, I have some leaders that, let’s say they have to organize their groups by time zones, because they have, you know, a global network and downline that they’re working with—so they can one click invite an entire group into a meeting or just have that face-to-face connection. But, allowing them to provide those trainings or those best practices, to make sure all of those leaders are set up for success. And then in addition to that, they’re able to draw from a larger network.
So, they’re not limited by location. But it’s also enabling those with full-time jobs who work 9 to 5, or parents that aren’t necessarily able to travel to have those meetings—enables them to participate in networks that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
Kenny: Yeah. So, I appreciate all of that. And one thing that I will say, is in hearing you guys talked about working with people in different locations, one of the things… I originally a long time ago, worked in Tech Support for an IT company. And trying to get people to describe what they’re seeing or what they’re going through, can be tough. And that’s where really a picture does paint a thousand words. And I think the ability to connect, know that people are engaged, but also be able to better support them because you can actually see them or they can show you what they’re experiencing. And so, I think the group setting and also the one-on-one coaching is really enhanced by the video.
And then one thing that you said—yesterday when we were talking, Steve—that I hadn’t thought about, but then, as I was thinking about it overnight, really makes sense, is kind of the hybrid approach that you can use. Where you could have a group meeting going on and then bring in people via video conferencing to either give testimonials or to participate remotely. And then I thought about it and that really happens a lot within the professional world. We’ve got people here at InfoTrax who will be remote and there’ll be a group of us in a meeting room and we’ll bring them in via video conferencing. And now, all of a sudden, they don’t feel like they’re totally disconnected. And that’s one of the things that just conference calling on its own, in my experience, doesn’t accomplish is you still feel like, “hey, I’m not really in this meeting” if there’s a whole group in the same room and you’re not, because you can’t see the white board, you can’t see the screen. And that’s one of the things that I’ve appreciated about video conferencing and about Zoom specifically.
Steve: Absolutely. And to build on your point there, it’s very powerful to have somebody live and in front of you to give that testimonial, whether it’s for the company themselves, saying, “Hey this the success I’ve had and this is personal, because it’s happened to me,” or even just the service or the product that they’re pitching as well. Right? So, if somebody’s used that product or service and they said, “I’ve had a lot of success with this. It’s really, you know, benefited me,” you can see the passion in that person’s eyes when they’re there.
And to build on that, as well—in a conference room scenario—and we also have you know, Zoom Rooms, which allow people to one touch, invite somebody into a meeting, which makes—like you had said—remote employees that much more accessible to either managers or if they’re part of your team, whatever that may be, they’re just that much more accessible.
And in the tech’s perspective—you know, from customer support or something like that—we’re able to now—like you said, a picture’s worth a thousand words—share your screen. You’re also able to… actually we have built in remote support, so if you can annotate and show a person where it is, you can actually point right there on the screen and show an individual, “This is what I’m talking about right here.” Of it they would just rather you take over their screen or their computer and actually perform the task that you’re asking them to provide, then they can do that right there as well.
Kenny: And I appreciate that. And, you know, one of the things that I want to touch on just—we’ve got a few more minutes—is maybe where the technology’s going, what you guys see on the horizon and maybe ways that people aren’t using video conferencing that you think’ll become more popular?
Steve: Sure. So, I don’t think it’s so much as… ways that people aren’t using it. I think what needs to happen more is actually people using video conferencing. And these technologies will continue to improve. I think the most important thing, is that we’re going to see it shift, are just the quality of the actual experience and the ease of the use. I think both of those are going to become minimal acceptable criteria for a platform. Right? So, I think there’s going to be a low tolerance for technologies that either don’t work correctly the first time, or you start lagging, or just aren’t very high quality and that’s mainly because it reflects poorly on that customer.
So, if you have a conference room that’s, you know, not working and you’ve got 10 people in there waiting in the meeting, trying to figure out how to get the meeting started, you know, take everyone’s salaries, multiply it times the time, and that’s the lost revenue in that room, not including opportunity costs. Right? Or, if you miss a connection because the video doesn’t work, you know, that’s a lost sales opportunity for those individuals. Like, after a while those add up and those become the cost of video conferencing that, I believe is going to be no longer acceptable.
So, I don’t think it’s any one feature that’s going to be leveraged more than another. I think what we’ll see is a higher adoption rate and I think it’ll become more mainstream. So, just to give you an example webinar streaming live—so streaming live over social media or you know, we had talked about utilizing those instant message functions or conference room solutions—I think those are going to become more prevalent.
Alyson: Yeah, I would agree with Steve. We’ve already seen a huge uptick, especially in the direct-sales space with broadcasting over social media. I know that’s been pretty popular with other social outlets like Instagram and Snapchat and so forth with people trying to launch their own businesses. And so, I think we’ll continue to see that grow and like Steve said, I think it’s just gonna be more of a trend with people starting to leverage and use video conferencing and starting to see the benefit of it.
From a feature standpoint though, I think we will start to see some really great features start to take place, as people start to adopt more of it. Zoom just rolled out a really cool feature that enhances your appearance—so it removes blemishes or it’s more of an anti-aging thing. We’re also starting to see more research done and maybe some virtual reality or augmented reality type of things, to really make you feel like you’re there with that person.
Zoom also has, what we call a “virtual background” where you can add basically any background that you want, so that people don’t necessarily have to look at your living room or, in my instance, they don’t have to look at my cubicle when we’re meeting. You know, I can put up a pretty background of the mountains or the Golden Gate Bridge or make it look like it’s a home office. So, there are some pretty cool features that are already included in, you know, different video conferencing providers, but I think that’ll continue to grow, as it becomes more adopted as well.
Kenny: Yeah. And one of the things—I appreciate all of that input—and I think the ease of use and some of the cool features to make you feel more and more like you’re there, are some of the things that I’m looking forward to. But I want to echo what both of you have said—I really am excited for the future.
I think especially when you look at the way some of the party plans in our space could evolve to where you can have more virtual parties and really feel that sense of community without some of the burden of traveling or without you know, excluding people who—for whatever reason—can’t be there in person, I think is very, very exciting. And like I said, the ease of use, you know… I’ve been doing this for a while and I’m one of these guys who likes every new technology that comes along. And so, for me, really the criteria is when, when my wife and my mom start using it, that’s when I feel like, hey, we’re starting to get there. And we’re definitely starting to get there.
So, the last thing I want to touch on just real quick is, how would people go about working with Zoom? What are some benefits, if like, a company wanted to bring you in or if a leader wanted to reach out to you guys, how would they go about that?
Steve: Absolutely, and thanks for that. Essentially, they could reach out to me and I can provide my email address for you to post, so it’s easily accessible, but that’s just firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone’s always available. Our pricing is very transparent. It’s online, but they’re always available to go in and add licenses through zoom.us and we work with organizations that are in network marketing or direct sales to also provide them coupon codes that basically allow them to leverage an economy of scale that they’re otherwise unable to use as a decentralized organization. So, if you’re a network marketing company or direct sales company and you want to see if you already have a coupon code with Zoom, please feel free to reach out and I can let you know if that exists or if you’d like to explore the opportunity to create one of those codes, I’m also available to have those conversations as well. So, any questions or if anyone has any, I guess, use cases or would like to discuss that further, I’m happy to have those conversations.
Kenny: We appreciate that. We appreciate both of you bringing your time and one of the things that MLM.com is passionate about, is making tools known and available to those who are in this space, because we definitely want people to be successful and be able to communicate with their teams in an effective way. So, we appreciate both of your time, and we look forward to the things that Zoom’s going to continue to do.
Steve: Well, thanks so much for having us Kenny. Appreciate the time.
Alyson: Yeah, thank you for thinking of us Kenny.
Kenny: I want to again thank Steve and Alyson for their time today. It was good talking to them about ways that video conferencing can better be leveraged within our space. We also want to thank Jana Bangerter and Adam Holdaway for their production support. Thanks again for listening to the MLM.com podcast and we’ll see you next time.