All brands are currently facing the same problem: How can a sales meeting be held without personal contact? How does a digital sales meeting work? This is also the case with the outdoor supplier Schöffel. Actually, Schöffel had already prepared everything in Kleinwalsertal. The F/S 2021 season was to start there in mid-May. Around 100 employees and sales partners from all over the world were to travel to the site to discuss the new collection and the season's goals over two days - supplemented by workshops, fashion shows, and joint sporting activities. "Since mid-March, it was clear that this time it would not work out", says Reiner Gerstner, Marketing Manager at Schöffel. Social distancing and the extensive travel ban between countries make an international meeting impossible. So it was clear that Schöffel had to come up with a new concept - and quickly.
But: How do you transfer an international sales meeting to the internet? How long may it take, which contents are indispensable, which can be omitted? And how do you manage the creation of content? Nobody had done that before. Gerstner: "The challenge was the enormous complexity of the task."
The structure of the digital sales meeting can be compared to a TV show. Various contents were pre-produced, which are imported one after the other. Managing Director Peter Schöffel and the various divisional managers have their say, the collection and the new marketing campaigns are presented. There are also circuits to designers in Finland and Austria, to athletes, such as Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, and of course, there is a fashion show. A moderator leads through the program and makes sure that all contributions follow a common thread. A suitable location for the "shoot" also had to be found: the Augsburg Textile and Industrial Museum. "As Germany's oldest outdoor brand, we deliberately wanted to present the link between tradition and innovation," says Gerstner.
The material from almost 27 hours of shooting had to be cut down to just under three hours. All spoken content was precisely defined, written, translated and spoken in with a male and female voice to match the image. Anything that didn't succeed in the first take could be re-recorded at any time.
A white box was built especially for the fashion show, because a classic catwalk without an audience would have been the wrong message. The models were also given enough space. The exact plan and the possibility to improve again and again increased the quality. Gerstner: "For us it was a win-win situation."
Although the sales meeting consists mainly of pre-produced content, it also integrates live elements and always offers opportunities for interaction. During the meeting, questions can be posted via the chat at any time and answered live. The meeting is followed by webinars of the individual regions, which are streamed live from the showrooms. "In this format, the products are then discussed in detail and regional differences are addressed," explains Gerstner.
"When you consider how digitalized we already live today anyway, this new form of sales meeting is the logical consequence", explains Gerstner with a view to further developments. "After this step there will be no turning back, we will continue to work with it in the future." This does not mean that personal meetings should be completely eliminated in the future. On the contrary: "The more digital our world becomes, the more valuable the physical encounters become," says Gerstner. "I am also sure that the usual trade fairs will continue to develop and that we will experience a mixture of digital working basis and personal encounters on these platforms". Just having the amount of good content available at such an early stage and being able to continue using it is a benefit, says Gerstner. "The enrichment clearly outweighs the effort."
Pascal Jaquemont, Managing Director of Schöffel France, agrees: "Of course, people are looking forward to the first digital sales meeting expectantly and, admittedly, somewhat sceptically. But we saw perfectly prepared content in compressed form. And the advantage is obvious: my whole team can access it again and again throughout the entire sell-in phase and prepare customer meetings even better". The exchange also worked, sums up Sabrina Kramer, Lead Designer at Schöffel. "Whether our work is well received and convincing is something we normally experience directly. The feedback has also reached us in the new digital version, and even felt more constructive, which was certainly due to the format of the live chat and the associated formal moderation."