Applications of screen share technology are expanding and diversifying every year. While remote desktop viewers have existed in some form since the late 1990s, the past few years have witnessed an explosion of new screen sharing tools, which many organizations now use to collaborate on sales and marketing presentations, to design and refine new products, and to streamline remote conversations both internally and externally.
In all these applications, the core functionality of screen share software is typically used in tandem with a video conferencing tool, such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, or join.me. Tools like these make it easier for multiple participants to join a remote conversation centered around a shared screen, while also enabling others to share their screens with the entire group as needed.
Remote desktop IT support tool Teamviewer also includes a screen share feature, which has been adopted widely for remote support workflows. But on the whole, today’s screen sharing applications are used not to facilitate more engaging, productive interactions in sales and customer support funnels, but to streamline internal and external conversations around specific processes and projects.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at a variety of traditional uses of screen share technology — and provide a glimpse of the near future, in which screen sharing is used not only horizontally across the organization as the occasion arises, but also for more targeted use cases across customer support and sales teams.
Screen share software enables collaboration across locations and platforms.
While remote login functionality dates back to UNIX systems of the 1980s, desktop sharing as we know it today began with Microsoft NetMeeting, which came packaged with Windows 95. The Mac world soon followed with Apple Remote Desktop (ARD). But although these platform-specific tools were widely adopted for IT support applications, many users grew frustrated with one core limitation: they were limited to sharing their desktops with other users of the same operating system.
As more computing applications migrated into the cloud over the course of the 2000s, the demand for platform-agnostic screen share tools continued to grow. Over the past decade, that demand has driven a proliferation of web-based screen share apps such as Google Hangouts and Screenleap, as well as the integration of screen sharing functionality into popular connectivity tools such as Skype and TeamViewer. As a result, today’s users can easily share their screens with collaborators using any operating system, in any remote location.
More than 66% of C-suite execs now use screen share technology in tandem with video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and GoToMeeting. These video conferencing tools enable participants across many locations to engage in face-to-face conversations, while screen sharing tools enable them to collaborate on documents in real time. This combination of screen sharing and video conferencing has essentially eliminated the need for employees to show up to the same physical workplace.
Traditional applications of screen share software have remained largely horizontal and focused around internal communication or remote IT support.
From the early days of desktop sharing to the modern era of remote collaboration, the vast majority of screen share use cases remain internally focused. Even as organizations move increasingly toward the distributed team paradigm, and use real-time screen sharing in a variety of remote workflows, the dominant assumption is still that desktops should be shared primarily on a horizontal basis — in other words, that customer-facing sales and support aren’t ideal applications for this technology.
For example, a full 58% of companies now use screen sharing in combination with video conferencing, to brainstorm new products and collaborate on presentations. Project managers frequently organize meetings around shared screens, which ensure that every team member stays (literally) on the same page while working within a spreadsheet or blueprint. Even HR managers are increasingly adopting screen sharing in their onboarding and training processes, streamlining step-by-step walkthroughs of key workflows.
In addition to internal collaboration, teams also leverage screen share software in dialogue with external partners, stakeholders, and prospects. A growing number of business-to-business (B2B) salespeople, for example, now use screen share technology to present case studies and pitches to potential clients. Startup founders rely on screen share tools to present status updates to shareholders, and get real-time feedback on milestones. Advertising and marketing agencies make use of screen shares when presenting new creatives and campaigns to the brands they serve.
And of course, the original use for which screen sharing was developed — IT support — remains one of the most popular use cases. A full 91% of support professionals use tools like LogMeIn and Windows Remote Assistance to streamline the process of troubleshooting technical issues and ensure they’re not missing any visual indicators of the problem. In many cases, support experts use screen share software in conjunction with remote desktop access tools, which provide a direct interface between the support provider’s terminal and the end user’s desktop.
As diverse as these use cases are, however, they all remain biased toward screen sharing as a primarily inward-facing technology — or, at most, as a technology for collaborating with partners and clients at remote locations. The uses of screen share software for external customer support, and for business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, by contrast, remain almost entirely unexplored. But just as screen share has already transformed so many types of internal collaboration, it’s now poised to transform customer interactions, too.
Screen share can also serve as a powerful tool for B2C sales and customer support.
It’s no secret that most consumers dislike phone sales reps; in fact, some surveys have found that as many as 80% hang up before they even hear the pitch. Phone-based customer support suffers from its own negative reputation, with 32% of customers reporting that they find phone calls the most frustrating channel on which to interact with a brand. Companies have responded to these challenges in a variety of ways, such as offering app-based chat support — but one approach more brands are adopting is to turn the sales and support processes into real-time interactions on each customer’s screen.
Unlike a phone sales call (or even a chat-based sales process on a website or within an app), a sales pitch that takes place on a prospective customer’s screen is far more likely to capture and hold a prospect’s attention. Of course, screen share alone isn’t enough to close a deal — in fact, a poor screen share connection, or below-average presentation, can actually reduce the likelihood of a successful sale. But as many salespeople have already learned, a screen-shared presentation has a much higher chance of leading to a sale when they’re able to read the prospect’s responses in realtime, and adapt the rhythm and focus of the pitch accordingly.
Screen share technology can also greatly increase the likelihood of a successful customer support interaction — even beyond the realm of IT support — by reducing the risk of miscommunication around any document or process that unfolds on the customer’s screen. In fact, now that such a large number of customer-facing processes take place in the cloud, rather than on paper or on local desktop machines, screen share tools can prove invaluable for helping customers complete forms, navigate websites, customize products, and complete many other detail-intensive tasks.
For companies operating in industries like finance and healthcare, where privacy regulations are particularly stringent, web-based screen share tools may not provide sufficient security to comply with regulatory standards. In cases like these, a tool like Mikogo, which provides 256-bit AES encryption (the same standard used by government agencies) may be worth the higher price point. And screen share software’s mitigation of the risk of inaccurate communication serves as a particularly crucial benefit when sensitive customer information is under discussion.
As all of these use cases demonstrate, screen share software is well on its way to revolutionizing broader support and sales interactions, just as it’s already transformed internal collaborations over the past decade. When sales organizations share their screens with prospective customers during presentations, they bring the intimacy of an in-person sales pitch to the world of remote communication. And when customer support personnel leverage screen share software in conjunction with remote desktop access tools, they gain a new level of insight into complex technical issues, and streamline the resolution process.
The next logical step is to bring these functionalities together within a single toolkit. That level of interactive screen share technology is provided by co-browse tools like Acquire, which facilitate even closer connections with employees, partners and customers. If your organization is ready to move beyond just sharing screens, and deliver a truly unified experience for your clients and prospects, it’s time to take a closer look at co-browse software, and consider taking that leap into the future of remote sales and support.