Phone and email will always be staples of the sales toolkit, but video is starting to take hold and earn its place. I spoke with Tyler Lessard, VP of Marketing and Chief Video Strategist at Vidyard, to understand the growth of video for sales and some of the new features added to the Vidyard platform to support this growth.
A new approach to sales and enablement
First of all, video has been in use in a number of companies for a while. I spoke with Lessard a couple of years on this very topic, and just last year interviewed some sales reps taking advantage of video. So it's safe to say sales reps were using some form of video even before this. How it would work before, Lessard explained, is that a sales leadership or an enablement leader would bring in a tool like Vidyard and make it available to its employees, but there wasn't a requirement for them to use it. As a result, some reps would see the value and use it, while others might have been more skeptical or nervous about putting themselves on camera.
Then the pandemic happened, and digital became a way of life for sales and enablement (like it was for everyone), and video became much more important. Lessard said:
Over the last 18 months, there has been a big shift where teams are rolling it out proactively and saying, ‘This is now a part of our virtual selling and inside sales tech stack’. And they're now actively training them and building playbooks for tools like Zoom and video-calling, but also video-messaging with Vidyard.
It's important to get sales reps, and SDRs used to video and feel comfortable doing it. Making usage a requirement is key to that happening, Lessard said.
New enterprise video capabilities
Vidyard’s new features are a response to enterprise customers who are rolling out video messaging tools across sales and sales enablement teams. The enhancements are intended to help managers understand video adoption and performance and provide video messaging with the same level of visibility and tracking that is offered via email and phone.
A Team Performance Dashboard and related reporting and analytics are pitched as helping sales leaders understand who is using the video tools, how many videos they are creating, and how many views they are getting. The reports and analytics also show engagement information that helps sales leaders understand how prospects react to the videos and what's driving conversions.
Lessard said that along with out-of-the-box reports, companies can also produce custom reports that dive deeper into creating and using video messaging for both teams and individuals.
Also new is an enhancement to adding Call-to-Action (CTAs) at the end of each video. Now, sales managers can assign reps to teams and apply different CTAs to each team. And new action analytics show managers which CTAs are driving the most conversions.
Another new feature that I thought was very interesting is the ability to apply chapter marks to a video and create a table of contents for longer videos. Think about recording a demo for a prospect or creating a longer video that explains multiple concepts or capabilities. By setting chapters, customers can quickly skip to the information they want. Chapters are added after the video is recorded. Chaptering is not just for the sales team; marketing teams can also use it in their marketing videos, said Lessard:
What's interesting is we've also, over the last couple of years, seen video used more and more throughout the full customer lifecycle. Not just for prospecting or early connection, but using it more and more for recording custom demonstrations of capabilities or functions. [For example] using it after a meeting or a call, where you may have just had a 30 or 60-minute meeting, and instead of sending over just the Zoom recording, which nobody really watches, what reps will do is they'll record a five or 10-minute recap video. They'll highlight the main points that were discussed, questions that were answered, and next steps, and they'll send that over as the follow-up.
Lessard added that some sales reps are also using video to walk customers through a proposal, explaining the different sections and creating chapters where certain teams (such as legal) can skip to the part that's important to them. He’s also seeing chaptering used for internal videos for weekly or monthly updates, walking through new presentations, or presenting other information.
The growth of sales tech
Scott Brinker just put out a new marketing technology landscape report that lists almost 10,000 vendors. Sales technology isn't at the level yet, but it is growing, and we are continuously seeing new vendors entering this space. Lessard agreed:
The martech landscape is just under 10,000 tech vendors, so quantity-wise, there's a ridiculous amount of martech out there. But sales tech is going on that same trajectory that martech did in the early days. There are at least 3000 to 5000 vendors in the sales tech space, but the pace of innovation does seem to be faster, and I think it's because we're building on platforms like AI and machine learning and a lot of these things are just part and parcel of what we do now. I think a lot of the innovation is happening even faster in the sales tech world.
This growth may be a big part of why Vidyard created Sales Feed, a separate media site built specifically for salespeople. Sales Feed was introduced sometime last year, and it has been interesting to see the different approach that Vidyard has taken compared to the media sites that some marketing tech vendors have created.
According to Lessard:
It really came from us asking the question, what is the best way to engage the audience of sales professionals out there? So, not sales leaders or managers, but individual sales reps that are out there trying to be better and live a better life as a sales rep. We spoke to a lot of different sales reps, a lot of different companies in markets, and we found some pretty interesting commonalities and consistent feedback from them. In terms of consuming content, they prefer things that are short, as they're not the type to go on to a 45-minute webinar, whereas sales leaders might be because they need to dive deep into things.
Lessard explained that the firm’s research indicated sales reps also preferred content to come via their social feeds as opposed to going to a specific site or blog. They also followed a lot of sales humor channels, so his team realized that humor was vital to their strategy:
Probably 80 to 90% of people that we talk to reference some kind of humor-based content and, and I think we realized that sales is really stressful as an individual rep. It's hard and there are a lot of unknowns and a lot of stress. And so we found humor really rises up in that market because they need a little bit of levity and a smile on their face at the beginning or end of the day or after a really bad cold call.
The result is a short-form, social-centric experience launched separately from Vidyard. It includes a LinkedIn channel packed with videos, a TikTok channel, a YouTube channel, a newsletter, and a website, including a set of original series such as Sales Tech Talks, Sales Stuff Explained, and How it All Began (a series by Andrew Davis).
There is certainly some fun stuff in Sales Feed and a lot of things to learn about sales and selling. Lessard said that Sales Feed has over 6000 LinkedIn Subscribers and 43,000 TikTok followers so far.
Dashboard or reporting features are critical to enterprise sales to help them understand how their sales reps are leveraging video and how customers respond to it. Using video simply because it's available isn't the right approach, so it makes sense that tracking of performance happens regularly.
Vidyard's platform is built for sales and marketing, and some of the new features support both groups. But Sales does have unique requirements, and having features custom-built for their needs will help Vidyard improve its reach into that market.
Plus, Sales Feed is a great idea – I haven't seen any other sales-focused media site, and while some of the videos I've watched were funny, they also included valuable content that sales reps can take advantage of.