The CEO of a Napa-based wine-club company shows a customer in Southern California a template he can use to create his own grape group. Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, an analyst at a forensic and investigative engineering consulting firm reviews a case with a client in Hawaii that involves measuring building heights and the angle of the sun. And down in Florida, the Orlando-based owner of a wedding guide Web site holds a sales meeting with reps in Tampa and Jacksonville.
As different as these small businesses are, they all rely on the same Web demonstration tool, Glance 2.0, to get their work done, whether it be snagging sales, analyzing data with clients or showing field reps the latest sales materials. Glance 2.0 is a screen-sharing service that lets up to 15 viewers at a time see what's on your computer screen by simply typing in a URL.
When it comes to Web demonstration tools, Glance 2.0 proves that less really is more. There are no applications for your guests to download and the service is affordable, $49.95 a month for individuals or $119 for corporations. Annual subscriptions include two free months, and the company offers a free trial so you can try before you buy.
Once you download the application, you click on the "G" icon on your toolbar and then on "Start Session." From then on, you're sharing your desktop until you tell it to stop sharing. You receive a unique URL that you provide to your guest viewers. They go to the URL and type in a unique password that the software supplies. From that point on, a Java application loads and others see everything that you see on your screen. There is no download attendees just need to have Java on their computers.
Seeing the Laws of Physics
To date, more than 2,000 companies worldwide use Glance to demonstrate their products online and to give sales presentations. We spoke to three Glance customers who said the application is reliable, fast, easy to use and customer-centric, meaning they can incorporate it into their own company Web page.
Jim Sobek is a senior analyst at Wolf Technical Services, a consulting firm with about 30 employees located in Indianapolis. He reconstructs vehicle collisions, industrial and construction accidents, reviews personal injury claims and analyzes product failures, fires and explosions. Wolf employees are often used as expert witnesses in court cases.
"When we use Glance, it's as if the client is looking right over my shoulder. It lets us communicate much more efficiently, because we can see exactly where things are, and often he or she can point out things that they had forgotten," said Sobek.
"In this business, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Clients used to describe a site to me over the phone, and I'd have to look up the location on maps and such, print them out, mail the documents, and then call back the client. There was a lot of back and forth."
A typical case for Sobek, like the one in Hawaii, involves using times and dates with longitude and latitude to compute a precise angle of the sun to determine if it really was in a driver's eyes and caused an accident. He uses Glance with such clients to verify exact locations on a map.
In other examples, he said, a client will see a mark in the street, or an obstruction like a parked vehicle that will jog their memory. "I know as soon as he's typed in the URL and the page comes up because they say, 'Oh Wow!' And they start elaborating because they can see the map or photo I've pulled."
Another way Sobek uses Glance is to show a client simulations based on his calculations. "This is not just an animation of Wile E. Coyote going off the edge of the world," says the analyst. "We use physics, angles, velocity equations and can show our clients 'this is why this must be true based on the laws of physics.'"
Business At a Distance
Richard Kline is the CEO of Legacy Wine Club, a five-employee company that helps other businesses set up their own online wine clubs. He uses Glance to show potential customers what he can do for them. "I've never met most of my clients in person," said Kline. "I do the whole thing online. Using Glance is such an efficient way to do business. I can have a Web developer in one location and the wine club owner in another, and all of us can get on a conference call, log into my Glance demo, and I can show them everything I need to. It's like we're in the same room."
Kline said if he had to do business face-to-face, taking his sales pitch on the road and paying for airline travel, "I would not be in business. My pricing model would be blown, and I'd have to charge five times as much for services," he said. "And my wife would shoot me."
He said Glance's flexibility is key to a successful sales demo. "Every client has a different set of needs," says Kline. "I have the ability to switch to whatever Web site I need to, I don't have to prepare a pitch for each meeting. I just tap into all the stuff I have on the fly to suit the objective."
Easy and Supportive
Francis Leger, who runs Florida-based, six-employee Perfect Wedding Guide, uses Glance for sales meetings and said he likes how easy it is to use. "I looked at a lot of other video conferencing packages, and they were prohibitively expensive. It was overkill, they seemed like they were designed for Fortune 500 companies, and priced like it, too," he said. "This is simple; everyone can use it. You just go to a Web site and log in. You don't need any training."
Leger says he also received stellar tech support from Glance Networks, a small business itself, employing 11 people and based in Arlington, Mass. "The only problem I had was due to my router it wasn't even their problem and they sent me a new one. They're doing a good job keeping us happy."
In addition to being reliable and affordable and offering great tech support, Taylor Kew, president of Glance, and Rich Baker, CEO, said another thing that sets their company apart from the competition is how the service is folded into their clients' Web sites. "Most of our competitors make you go to their Web site," says Kew. "With Glance 2.0, if you're a rep with Acme Software, say, you have your client log on to your Web site and click the "G" icon, so we're hidden, and it's all about you."
When Michelle Megna began covering technology for computer magazines, the CD-ROM and AOL didn't yet exist. Since then, she's been on the byte beat for FamilyPC, Time Inc. and the New York Daily News. She's still waiting to see a pair of 3-D goggles that actually work.
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