After Acquisition of VideoLink, AVI-SPL Embraces Selling Content Creation

For the first time since it acquired VideoLink, AVI-SPL’s 200-plus sales professionals gathered and vetted its customizable ReadyCam video production studio at the AVI-SPL Sales Acceleration Summit.

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After AVI-SPL acquired VideoLink in January 2017, CI editor Tom LeBlanc interviewed AVI-SPL CEO John Zettel and VideoLink president and CEO Richard Silton at VideoLink's Newton, Mass., studio.

It had been about three months since AVI-SPL announced that it had acquired VideoLink, a Boston-based video services provider.

By many accounts (including CI’s) it’s a big deal for the Tampa, Fla.-based integration firm to acquire a company that specializes in helping customers record, edit and manage their own video content. After all, integration firms have always been in the video business but with only a few exceptions the integration firm end of that business has started after the content was created.

A key component of the acquisition allows AVI-SPL to tap into VideoLink’s patented ReadyCam video studio — essentially a customized production studio created by VideoLink for customers’ specific spaces and purposes that provides customers with cameras, production technology, lighting and everything needed to create videos in their spaces without the need for expertise while production is handled remotely as a service by VideoLink.

In theory, AVI-SPL sales professionals can appeal to customers’ need for content creation across all markets by presenting the ReadyCam and offering a video content-related managed service.

It’s all theory, of course, until those AVI-SPL sales professionals buy into the concept. That’s one reason why the 2017 edition of the AVI-SPL Sales Acceleration Summit, which took place this month in Orlando, was pivotal.

Richard Silton, president and CEO of VideoLink, was on hand to answer questions, address concerns and solve issues related to rolling out ReadyCam.

The timing of the Sales Acceleration Summit was perfect for that, said senior VP of sales Dale Bottcher. “This event was their chance to see to see ReadyCam and get all the 200 sellers to see it, touch it and really understand it.”

During the AVI-SPL Sales Acceleration Summit, I talked to Bottcher and CEO  John Zettel about how the firm can capitalize on the unique opportunity presented by the acquisition of VideoLink.

On preparing AVI-SPL sales pros to present content creation:

Zettel: I think we’ve seen some huge challenges in terms of the experiences that [customers] have around technology and especially around video technology. So the biggest opportunity we have is to smoothly integrate the two companies to be able to take the knowledge base they have and be able to help train up so that we can start having the right conversations. At first it’s going to be more teaming type of approach. [VideoLink has] field sellers as well.

VideoLink has a ton of content and training materials that they develop on their solutions, so we’ll be leveraging the collateral that they’ve developed to train up our team. But not only just on products but taking it a step further to really talk about the experiences and how to use video, manage the digital content and how to create it so it’s more impactful in terms of the outcomes.

I think it’s a little bit of evolution.

Bottcher: We talked about the digital workplace transformation. [Digital video content] is a key component of that digital workplace transformation that companies are going through. If you’re looking at collaboration and looking at communication, digital is where it’s moving to. We feel like that was a need that we had to fill.

VideoLink has a very nice application with the content creation team that can do that. You can create remote productions skills and have that as a service so you don’t have to have in-house. So we feel like it gives our customers a really good option of you can still create all of that broadcast quality content but you can pick how you want to manage that, how you want to produce it.

On tying VideoLink into AVI-SPL’s Symphony manages services platform:

Bottcher: So where do we bring that into our Symphony platform to then be able to give the metrics find as well? VideoLink is very good at the quality, the production value, the creative content. The next piece will be how do we measure usage for our customers and that’s where Symphony will come in, but that’s a road map item for us right now.

Zettel: [Sympony] is part of the core of managing support going forward, and this fits in with that. The difference for me is there’s the production side of it which is different than the monitoring. They offer monitoring as well but that production side just gives us an added piece compared to what we would do.

On the reaction during the sales summit to selling VideoLink:

Zettel: People are just coming out of the roof. “I want to talk to this customer. I want to talk to this customer. I want to talk to this customer.” So there was some adoption [during the event]. We had our early adopters [prior to the event], some customers that were a real easy fit for our salespeople to visualize through our written word and in talking about it.

But it was seeing it where it just quadrupled.

On AVI-SPL and VideoLink’s symbiotic relationship:

Bottcher: Think about from a video length perspective versus how we go to market. When we deal with a customer we typically deal with hundreds of meetings spaces and VideoLink is coming in looking to get maybe one space within that company.

It’s a tougher uphill climb [for VideoLink] versus us already being there and talking about 99 percent of the other spaces. It’s such an easy add-on when you look at it from that perspective.

Zettel: It also makes for easier in-roads for VideoLink, which is kind of what makes it a natural merging.

On customers’ content and integration decision makers being different:

Bottcher: I can confirm it, yes.

We [AVI-SPL] certainly are dealing with IT. We’ve seen even almost a flip back now with standardization … So it is sort of broadening our go-to-market a little bit so it’s an education process.