AVI Systems NSM 2017: Wrap Up


I recently attended the AVI Systems national sales meeting in Minneapolis. Integrators like AVI Systems are where the rubber meets the road when it comes to the implementation and adoption of business collaboration products and services. As a result, I get invaluable information and insight at these events. Speaking of insight, the big news from the event is AVI Systems’ new AVI Insight monitoring, reporting, and analytics tool.

Max Velocity: The Theme for the Sales Team

AVI Insight was a major focus of the event, and something I expect to take a deeper look at sometime soon. Right now, I would like share some unique aspects of the event itself. If you’ve never been to a sales meeting for an integrator the size of AVI Systems, you might be surprised at the massive effort involved. These kinds of events aren’t just simple parties to cheer on and motivate the sales team. They are extensive educational events designed to arm a sales team with the latest info from their supported vendors, while coordinating on a strategic level with their marketing arm. In other words, the sales people learn about the next generation of stuff they are going to sell, while getting helpful collateral about said stuff from marketing. The end result is something like a trade show. Vendors have booths in a big exhibit hall, there are sessions in breakout rooms on new trends and products, and big keynote addresses from leadership.

AVI Systems has their own take on how to put on a national sales meeting. Generally, you show up at these events to check out the new tech and chat with leadership about strategy. The event itself might have a loose theme like “Teamwork for Success” or a similar cheerleader catchphrase. AVI Systems however, took the theme concept to the next level. They went with “Max Velocity” – a James Bond concept. They worked it into just about every aspect of the event and the results were really fun and memorable. It wasn’t just the Aston Martin supercar on display (above), or the casino night, or even the 007 related contests, giveaways, and prizes. It was the way they used the Bond theme to share the message of the event throughout the keynotes and speeches.

Don Mastro, VP Sales, took on the role of James Bond, and center stage at the keynote, addressing his sales team as “fellow agents” and talking about their mission to better serve their customers. Just as Bond needs to get the right tools for his missions from Q, a sales team needs tools from their CTO. Brad Sousa took on the role of Q, joined “Bond” on stage, and addressed Bond’s fellow agents. Brad explained how they can use his tools (including internal tools like AVI Insight, and services offered by their vendor partners) to change the game from selling and installing AV, to solving customers’ collaboration needs and designing the workspaces, and workflows, of the future. They even had Ms. Moneypenny, played by Ashton McGinnis, Marketing Specialist, joining Bond and Q on stage to serve as Master of Ceremonies.

What I learned next was top secret. Seriously, I can’t share the details of their marketing strategy, but I can say that, once again, they are taking it to the next level. Generally, a sales team hopes that marketing will lay a little groundwork for them by getting the word out. AVI Systems is coordinating marketing and sales in a much tighter way which will result in some seriously educated customers who know exactly what they need and how AVI Systems can help them.

Fun and Games

It appears that the AVI Systems marketing team has been studying gamification. How do you get an army of salespeople to sit through days of seminars and visit booth after booth? You weave it all into a huge competition. Everyone was assigned to a team, which got points throughout the day for completion of mini challenges, which generally involved the actual educational goals of the event. The scores were updated constantly, and Ms. Moneypenny and her fellow marketing teammates were on the mic throughout the day stoking the flames. When you think about how competitive salespeople are, you can imagine how effective this was.

AVI Systems Casino Night

It should be noted that AVI Systems is growing, and having a really good year. This wasn’t just a training exercise, it was a celebration. So, keeping within the theme, they planned a casino night (above) and other opportunities for everyone to let their hair down and have some fun.

Exhibit Hall

This was one of the bigger exhibit halls I’ve seen for a single integrator’s event. I had a lot of great conversations with vendors about their latest wares, and their relationship with AVI Systems. Here is a quick peek at some of what I saw.

The AVI Systems Events Team

AVI Systems Marketing Team

Kelly Perkins (Marketing Communications Manager)
Mary Beth Voigts (Administrative Assistant)
Ashton McGinnis (Marketing Specialist)
Alec Kasper-Olson (Content Marketing Specialist)
Blake Podvin (Marketing Events Specialist)
Nathan Ross (Market Research Analyst)
Tyler Bame (IT Systems Administrator)

I have to give a lot of credit to the AVI Systems events team for both design and execution of this event. The theme was super fun and cleverly woven throughout. The coordination of all the moving pieces; vendors, keynotes, sessions, food, contests, the hall, the Aston Martin, and so on, appeared to go off without a hitch. Blake even made an app that most of us attendees used to keep on schedule, receive announcements, and share messages. Very cool stuff!

The Big Takeaway

AVI Systems is a very agile and motivated integrator with an openness to doing things differently, and the resources to make big things happen (like internally creating their own analytics tool). They also have a collection of outside-of-the-box thinkers. The creativeness of the marketing team is a reflection of the company’s overall style from CEO Jeff Stoebner (who was kind enough to give me some very insightful 1-on-1 time, throughout the entire organization. Finally, they recently signed up their James Bond. I’ve known Don Mastro for a long time and his C-level experience on the vendor and integrator side makes him a great fit for AVI Systems. Just as importantly, his experience includes being a part of the leadership of a company which went from where AVI Systems is now, to where it wants to be. This is a company to watch in 2018.

About The Author

David Maldow is the Founder & CEO of Let's Do Video and has been covering the visual collaboration industry, and related technologies, for over a decade. His background includes 5 years at Wainhouse Research, where he managed the Video Test Lab and evaluated many of the leading solutions at the time. David has authored hundreds of articles and thought pieces both at Telepresence Options, where he was managing partner for several years, as well as here at Let's Do Video. David often speaks at industry events and webinars as well as hosting the LDV Video Podcast.

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