Michael Arndt is sitting alone in front of the computer when he opens his first virtual expert conference. Just last year, the head of Volkswagen Sales Germany had gathered dozens of sales representatives in Dresden to discuss important issues. Now it’s time for a new update – but corona is thwarting the plan. “Especially in times of crisis, exchange is important in order to deal with the different situation. We need regular feedback from retailers and cannot wait until the pandemic is over,” says Arndt. The solution: an online format. Initial experiences have been so good that German sales department wants to continue using virtual events in the future. It is one of many examples that show how Volkswagen will become a more digital and at the same time more sustainable company during the pandemic.
The first virtual expert conference lasts five hours. On the agenda: sales promotion programs, used cars, new electric cars. “We discussed all the topics that we would have dealt with during a face-to-face event,” says Arndt. Many more questions are answered in small workshops.
More time for the family
The new format is not only a win for cooperation, but also for climate protection. Arndt estimates that visitors to last year’s conference in Dresden drove a total of almost 100,000 kilometers by car. Estimated CO2 emissions: around 15 tons. In contrast, a five-hour online meeting generates only a fraction – less than 100 kilograms.
Arndt is convinced that many participants also see the virtual meetings as an improvement. “Our sales representatives are on the road a lot anyway. Many of them probably prefer to avoid business trips in order to spend more time with their families,” he says. The feedback is almost consistently positive.