Selling through video - secrets of user success, complete with snowboarding pitches and canine co-stars

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher February 16, 2021
Video in sales - exemplars of success that include packages in transit, skateboarders on the slopes and canine co-stars!


Adopting video as part of your sales strategy is gaining popularity fast. Tyler Lessard, CMO of Vidyard, shared his tips for using video a few months ago. I was interested in hearing from more companies that are using it and how it’s worked for them, so when I had the opportunity to talk with some of the winners at Vidyard’s Video in Business Awards, it was a perfect opportunity.

These are the stories of three salespeople - Thomas Buchanan, Matt Hall, and Frank Weschler. Each has a different approach to leveraging video, but all have the same intent– to be authentic, to capture attention, and to engage customers. 

Before and after video

Thomas Buchanan, Digital Sales Enablement Director at Modus, provider of a sales enablement solution, talks about the struggle to create a good customer experience before working with video. Typically, you started with phone calls or emails to your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile), then you booked a meeting with the Account Executive to do a discovery call or a demo, then you figured out the next best steps. That’s not a great experience. 

Today, he creates videos that are demos and sends them as the first step to potential customers. His best video was a 90-second demo that showed how their software solved another customer’s issue.

Matt Hall works at Woodway, a UK packaging and supplies distributor. The company does a lot of re-boxing exercises and parcel analysis to see how a package 'performs' during transit. As a Sales Manager leading three to four other salespeople, Hall understands the challenges of phone calls and email. He said [people[ always perform better face-to-face and sees video as an opportunity to get in front of customers. Today, he creates between 15 and 20 videos a month. 

Frank Weschler works on the Customer Success team at Dynamic Signal, an employee advocacy platform, but he started with the company in sales. When he starting working for Dynamic Signal, he was trained to use video as part of his onboarding process. He used it daily, especially for big prospects. 

One of the most fun videos Weschler made involved getting behind the wheel of a Ford GT40. Unfortunately, it was very hard to hear him (GT40, right?), but some post-production editing helped. 

Another video Weschler created was for a communications professional in the audio industry. He found out the person had a Corgi (dog), a breed he also owned, so he put his dog in the video frame. That video gave him the fastest results of any of his videos. 

Why Vidyard?

The choice to use Vidyard as their sales video tool happened in different ways for each company. In the case of Modus, the Director of Marketing saw it at a HubSpot Inbound Conference in 2017 and brought it onboard - after which time, no-one used it for the first few months. Then Buchanan made his first video and he found that he loved it. With that under his belt, he embarked on creating up to seven videos a day and has now made over 3000 videos in three years.

Vidyard provides built-in analytics, which all three companies leverage to understand how well their videos perform. All three uses track metrics that include clicks, percentage of video watched, where it was opened, and the type of device (mobile vs. desktop). 

Modus integrates Vidyard with Salesloft, with Salesloft providing data on location, shares and clicks, and Vidyard providing metrics on the percentage of the video watched or indeed whether it was watched at all. 

According to Buchanan, the sales cycle has been reduced by nearly a third (30%) since adopting video, with his largest enterprise deal (which started with video) taking only 3.5 months.

Weschler likes Vidyard’s simplicity, whether it is using its Chrome plug-in or uploading videos to the platform from his phone. That said, he notes there are often spikes in activity, where people watch and share the videos, but no-one responds. This then involves phone follow ups and it is often these follow-ups that deliver the majority of success. 

The decision to use Vidyard for Hall’s company came from his Sales Director, who learned about the platform through a customer. The Sales Director presented Vidyard to the team and they adopted it. Hall said they like that Vidyard integrates into emails and doesn’t trip the spam filters in the process.

Advice to get started 

All three users have some great insights on optimizing the use of video, including advice on how to get started. Weschler counsels beginning with with in-depth research. You need to make a personal connection with the contact you are creating the video for, so it’s essential to find some way to make a connection with them. Hence the Corgi co-star, for instance. 

For Weschler, it’s important to showcase your personality and not merely come across as a robot blasting out an email. At the same time, you also have to link back to the brand, he argues. For example, Weschler was trying to connect with someone who worked at Vail Resorts. He found this person on Twitter and learned they enjoyed back-mountain skiing. As a snowboarder himself, he went to Vail Resorts and videoed himself snowboarding a back-mountain trail, pitching a meeting to the contact.  Lesson? You have to lean into your creativity hard, says Weschler, and find a fun or exciting angle to capture attention and make them say, 'Wow!'. 

With the benefit of hindsight, Buchanan says his first videos were 'crappy' (his word). It was similar, he suggests, to making your first cold calls as a salesperson - crappy, but you do get better. He finds success comes through reaching buying committees by nurturing a champion on the committee and creating videos to send to that specific person, then encouraging that person to share it internally with the rest. 

Another benefit from using video, particularly for demos, Buchanan explains, is that you can reach people across timezones when it’s the best time for them. Trying to arrange demos via zoom is often a scheduling nightmare.

Hall also testifies to the need to be as authentic as possible...without messing up. You don’t want to look like you’re reading a script, he says. As a case in point, he cites a video he created for the Body Shop, he showed how much packaging was used in an order and how his company provided a solution that would reduce the amount of packaging without affecting the products' safe delivery. 

There’s no right or wrong way to create a video, Hall concludes, but one thing stands out - don’t criticize how a company does something today, but rather, find a way to grab their attention and show them how your product can help them improve. 

My take

Video is gaining traction in the Sales division, but there’s still a long way to go. It’s a new approach for Hall’s industry in the UK,  but one that is working for them. Hall said that he sent a video just before Christmas and received a reply almost instantly with the comment that it was refreshing to see something different.

Watching the videos Hall and Weschler created exemplify different ways to reach out and capture someone’s attention. They are different approaches, but both make you think about what the video creator is saying. Hall’s video for the Body Shop clearly shows the benefit of his company’s product. 

Weschler’s video is different in that it doesn’t show the product but tries to connect with the prospect personally to get some time on his calendar. Both videos work. Buchanan’s demos are another great approach, showcasing features of the product and how it helped others. 

I noticed that all three of these winners are young. Video, it seems, is appealing to younger salespeople. While Hall did note that he has seen the opposite at times, it’s possible that younger salespeople are less intimidated by putting themselves out there on video. (If you know otherwise, feel free to comment and let me know.)

Weschler admits he's received negative feedback, such as  'You’re embarrassing yourself' or 'What is this?', but he takes this in his stride. Some people are uncomfortable with video, he concedes, but you can’t let that influence your approach. Find what works for you and do it well.

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