Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Produce an informative and interactive sales kickoff event that doesn’t take the sales force away from customers or break the bank

HMH organizes a sales kick-off event each year to introduce new products to its selling force of educational consultants worldwide. Like most companies, HMH grapples with two major challenges associated with a large, multi-day event like this. First, it doesn’t want to take consultants away from their selling territories. Second, HMH must balance budgetary constraints with rising travel, hotel, meal and meeting space expenses. Ken Pratt, Vice President, Digital Marketing for HMH, said the company’s goal was to make the virtual sales event informative, enjoyable and productive for consultants and cost-effective for the company. “There’s stress involved with a physical trade show, from travel delays to time away from family, so we provided a venue that didn’t take consultants away from their customers or families.”


ON24 Virtual Show

HMH worked with Level 3® Communications to create a customized, two-day virtual sales kickoff meeting for 900 HMH educational consultants worldwide. Level 3 has provided HMH with communication solutions for many years, such as audio conferencing, WebEx services and video bridging. Powered by ON24, the virtual sales meeting included live sessions, exhibits, chat areas and downloadable documents.


Higher attendance, Higher Conversion Rates

“This event was a huge success, resulting in better learning outcomes than a physical meeting,” Pratt said. “Our senior management was so impressed that they asked us to use this technology to conduct future meetings.” The sales force was equally impressed. When consultants were asked to rate their overall experience on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being outstanding, 87% gave the virtual meeting a 4 or 5. In addition, 80% of consultants said the meeting was paced well, and 93% said it was easy to navigate. The event was a big success from a financial point of view too — it was approximately 90% less expensive to execute than a physical event, saving HMH more than $500,000. In addition to saving money, the virtual show provided HMH with another key benefit: detailed user analytics.