By Kieran Wong
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are poised to change the way B2B sales and marketing organizations look at and interact with the world – literally.
Last year was considered “Year Zero” of the virtual and augmented reality landscape. This year we’ll go from crawling to walking – more content will produced, hardware technology will become faster, and both advancements will become more accessible to the consumer.
Describing VR and AR to friends, family, and colleagues can be difficult – these are complex concepts, after all – but a couple of examples can help us paint a clear portrait.
Example #1: Pokémon Go
Pokémon Go is a great example of AR technology that people quickly understand. It’s AR technology that overlays imagery (a created reality) on top of the actual reality (what’s around you) to create an experience with which the user interacts.
Example #2: Scuba Diving
Virtual reality, on the other hand, is a totally immersive experience. Imagine being a scuba diver, swimming around a beautiful Caribbean Sea floor. In this example, you’re viewing the ocean through a mask and are able to move through this reality at your own pleasure – looking in whatever direction you wish while enjoying a totally immersive experience. That’s VR. Currently, content is actively being created for VR – primarily for the gaming and entertainment market.
How Will VR and AR Impact B2B Selling?
So, what potential do VR and AR hold for B2B sales and marketing organizations? And how will these technologies affect your salespeople?
In short order, these two technologies will be as ubiquitous in the business environment as email or texting. Presenting your product or service will be done with VR and AR as a means to drive customer value through a better and more realistic experience.
This means digital marketing and customer engagement as we know it will change.
As a VR example, imagine you’re a farmer who’s about to purchase a quarter-million-dollar tractor – a major capital purchase. Your friendly neighborhood tractor dealer comes out to your farm and puts a VR headset on you and situates you in a virtual tractor. Not only can you experience what it’s like to drive the tractor from the comfort of your couch, but you’re also able to view and experiment with all available options on the fly – both inside and out. Just like that, you’re one step closer to making your purchase decision.
For AR, imagine you’re with your real estate broker looking at a raw, unbuilt office space to lease for your business expansion. He hands you a mobile phone and you point it around the space and look at the display. Instantly you see a fully-designed suite including furniture, carpet, lighting fixtures, and paint colors – all overlaid on the real empty space. You’re now inspired by the final vision. Again, you’re able to more quickly evaluate your purchase and make an informed decision.
As you start to think about it, the possibilities are endless. That premise alone leads to a massive market potential. An October 2016 article in Forbes quoted Tim Merel, managing director at Digi Capital, as saying, “The AR and VR market will hit $150 billion in revenue by 2020, bringing in about $120 billion and $30 billion, respectively.”
Businesses that aren’t working on employing a VR and AR strategy for business will be hit by a wave of innovation their competitors will be riding. Think about how your sales and marketing teams currently engage with your customers and then rethink it based upon employing these new technologies. That paradigm shift alone will change your business.
I challenge you to think about how you present your product/service to your customers. Could VR or AR bring value to your customer’s experience? The businesses that leverage these new technologies beyond gaming and entertainment will set the pace.