EventsInAmerica.com (EIA) spoke with Gavin Finn, President & CEO of Kaon Interactive, at the EXHIBITORLIVE show in Las Vegas. (Original interview posted on their site.)
EIA: Tell us about your business. What does Kaon Interactive do and who are some of your customers?
Finn: We provide interactive 3D product storytelling applications for sales, marketing and channel partners to use at live events and sales meetings. These are interactive, 3-dimensional product and solution tours. They are very realistic and engaging. We use this technology to help our clients present a clear picture of their competitive differentiators and advantages – what makes them unique and why. As companies have become more global and have expanded their product portfolios, the ability of their sales teams to tell their story has become more challenging. As a consequence, executives have come to us with the problem that their sales and marketing teams are not consistent in articulating their value propositions, causing them to lose deals early in the buying cycle they should have won. We help them solve that problem.
What industries do your serve?
The three main verticals we work in are 1) high-tech IT – data equipment centers and storage, 2) medical devices and scientific instruments for large complex lab equipment or medical instruments, and 3) industrial equipment, where there are often complex stories to be told but where you can’t always be in front of the equipment to tell those stories.
So tell us more. How do you turn your applications into ROI for your clients?Our interactive 3D product marketing applications help clients engage prospects earlier, train sales/channel teams faster, shorten sales cycles and increase win rates by 33%. Think about the companies who buy your product. About 80-percent them are already doing preliminary buying research on their own, using the web to gather information about potential solution providers. But what they often lack from this initial research is a true understanding of how a potential solution provider can solve a specific business challenge their company faces. That’s when we come in. Through our interactive applications, we demonstrate how our clients provide solutions that are specific to a particular goal, task, department or job function, rather than just re-tell the customer’s decision makers what they’ve already learned through the web, our client’s sales team can now actually engage them in an interactive dialog about issues that are very specific to what these people are doing in their jobs. This makes the face-to-face meeting between our client, and their prospective customers, much more effective.
Give us a real-life example.
For instance, in the medical device industry, one of our clients sells very expensive and complex lab equipment for blood analysis. It’s a highly competitive field. Over the last decade more hospitals have made the acquisition of this equipment more complicated by involving more constituents in the decision-making process. Now it’s not just the lab making the decision. It’s finance, procurement, environmental health and safety, the emergency room – and the lab. And so our client’s sales people have had to become very facile with the discussion of the value proposition for each of these constituents – each of whom has his or her own decision drivers. So we built an interactive 3D product storytelling application for our client that shows the specific differentiator of this equipment for each individual constituent. If it’s the emergency department, for instance, one of their key issues is getting high quality results very quickly. In a sales meeting, our client used our application to demonstrate this capability to that constituent. But within the hospital’s environmental health & safety department, people have a different concern: They want a system that efficiently uses clean water. This is huge to them. By using the same interactive 3D product storytelling application, the sales people were able to demonstrate how their equipment meets that concern. And they were able to show additional benefits to other constituents in the buying cycle, as well. So by using this one non-linear interactive application they can navigate to and demonstrate multiple benefits to a variety of buyers, dramatically improving their sales process and increasing their close rates and cycle times because they were able to make those meetings much more effective.
So if we were a prospect for your company, what’s the process you would go through to interpret our needs and your solution?
It really starts with describing the business problem you’re facing. It might be that you’ve got lots of competitors and you’re struggling to articulate your value proposition, so price has become the focus and you’re trying to get away from that. Or maybe there’s a problem that has to do with people in different geographical areas not being able to consistently present or access their products. Or perhaps there’s some other issue. We start by having a discovery session to determine what the key business challenges are. Then we assimilate all the marketing and sales information the client has relative to the technical features – but more importantly how those features benefit their customers. And then we put together 3 or 4 different creative ideas on how this interactive 3D product storytelling application would look and function.
We go back and forth with the client to see what works for them, what fits with their brand and what kind of messaging works best. We then put the application together. They deploy it to the field on a test basis, usually on one device, maybe an iPad® or on the web. Once we get feedback from that test, we start to expand on the application, maybe by adding more product lines or by going deeper into each of the vertical segments. And then we expand outward. It becomes an incremental deployment. Over time, the client gets to broaden the interactive application and add more of their value propositions so they can cover more of their markets with the same application.
When did you start, how large of staff do you have and what are their capabilities?
We started our company in 1996. We’re just under 50 people. The majority are in two groups: Technology or User Experience. The Technology group builds the software that is deployed to use these applications and does research and development on new tools and new platforms like Android devices and web browsers. The User Experience group creates design and user interfaces, incorporating ergonomics and other human factors. So we’re leading our customers in which technologies are becoming more popular and common, and working with them to capture their unique value stories in the most effective way.
Do you have any proprietary or patented processes?
Yes, we have four patents. One of them is the process for creating these interactive3D product and solution tours. And then we have patents on the technology side in how to implement these solutions across different platforms. These patents allow us to maintain a technology edge across a variety of platforms – and our clients don’t have to spend a lot of money investigating new interactive applications whenever a new device or platform comes out because we’ve already made that investment.
Are you launching any new programs, products or services in 2015?
Earlier this year, we launched what we’re calling our Kaon Application Delivery Network (ADN), which is a way, using the cloud, to deliver the interactive application content all over the world. Clients can distribute the application to an unlimited number of people in all different geographies and devices, but when it gets updated, it only gets updated in one place and everybody has access to exactly the same content. And so this year, we’re expanding that platform. We’ll be introducing a whole new set of devices to support it, as well as new features, including analytics so that marketers can really understand who’s using the applications, what part of the world they’re in and what’s resonating with different customers in different geographies.
Is there anything we haven’t discussed you want people to know about?
The most effective way to get a prospect to understand your distinctive value proposition is to get them involved in the process. Rather than just telling or presenting, have them be an interactive part of that process. And that’s what our entire company is about – creating these engaging encounters that involve customers in the process so they remember more and what they learn resonates with their problems. Our entire philosophy is centered on creating the most engaging and effective encounters with customers at every touch point, no matter where they are in the buying cycle.
What’s the prognosis for sales in 2015?
We grew at more than 20% last year and we’re expecting similar growth this year.