Shifting the sales strategy paradigm
Many traditional sales methodologies recommended withholding a product demo from a prospect for as long as possible. In this scenario, customers often didn’t know how a technology product worked, was priced, or would impact their business.
A salesperson's demo was often the only way customers could find answers to their questions. Delaying the product demo until the later stages of a sales process gave the salesperson more control over information flow, time for discovery, and pricing leverage. Once a salesperson gave a product demo to their customer, they’d lose some of that leverage as the prospect became better informed.
In an age where prospects had limited options and an outsized dependence on salespeople for pricing, product, and fit information, this approach made sense. While withholding demos may have worked in the old world of sales, it's time to rethink this paradigm. Effective Sales teams should lead with a product demo early in their sales process — ideally, in the follow-up stage — and engage in personalized outreach to prospects with video.
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The case for asynchronous communication with video
Asynchronous communication — any type of communication that occurs when there’s a lag between when the sender imparts information and when the recipient digests it — often comes up in conversations around remote work, but any type of workplace structure, be it co-located or distributed, can benefit from it.
As humans, we gravitate toward in-person, real-time communication — but that isn’t always the best choice for getting work done, nor is it always possible. Embracing asynchronous communication is a core component of communicating more effectively, no matter where you are or what you’re trying to accomplish, without causing time-consuming bottlenecks that impede what you’re trying to achieve.
Some of the main reasons to consider incorporating asynchronous video into your sales follow-up workflows are:
Video is efficient. Choose the right medium for your message. People speak three times faster than they type, making video a time-saving medium through which to share complex ideas. Instead of agonizing over what to say to a prospect and how to best translate it into an email, recording a video transmits the same message in a fraction of the time.
Video is engaging. People retain more of the content they consume over video than in text, which means you have a better chance of making a lasting impression over video. In fact, video captures the same visual language of synchronous verbal communication. While not the same as an in-person interaction, vital non-verbal cues are still conveyed, increasing the likelihood of forging a better connection.
Video is expressive. According to one study, only 7% of the information people take in is tied to the specific language you use — the other 93% of their takeaway comes from your voice, tone, and body language. Video allows you to share nonverbal communication such as facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice, and posture that provide invaluable personalization of your message.
A video message is an ideal middle ground between written and verbal communication, as it asynchronously delivers a message with all of the verbal and non-verbal elements of synchronous communication.
The ingredients you need for follow-up video demos
Prospects connect with you because there is a need for your product or service — and how quickly you can demonstrate how your product addresses that need can make or break closing the deal. Here are three key things to keep in mind when recording and sharing video messages to send to sales prospects.
1. Ask questions — and listen to the answers.
The best salespeople I’ve met in my decade in the profession embed curiosity about their customers into their sales strategies. Great salespeople get to know their customers’ businesses, career goals, problems, and even what they do on the weekends. The answer might or might not be relevant to leverage points in the course of a deal, but they usually lead to interesting answers, and they are wildly important because:
Good salespeople build partnerships and trust. You cannot be a partner if you don’t care about the other party. You cannot care about someone without being interested in them.
Working in sales grants people the ability to ask different types of questions to understand the true drivers behind customer decisions, such as:
“Why is that feature so important to your company?”
“What do you stand to gain if this project is successful?”
“How are you thinking about ROI and what would make this product worth that price point?”
These are questions sales professionals are trained to ask and can deliver back to your business from its earliest days. Understanding what features lead to tangible impacts (through website visitor tracking, of course), what objections are hurdles versus roadblocks, and understanding how your target customers perceive the value of your offering is crucial to your long-term success.
2. Personalize video demos to your customer’s needs.
One of the most consistent complaints buyers cite around negative experiences with salespeople is “You don’t know me or my business.” Taking the time to personalize that demo and show your customer you’re prepared to help them will build credibility.
A product demo is not a “feature dump.” The fastest way to lose a prospect’s attention is to list features or functionality that aren’t relevant to their business and especially true if you share a demo early on in your process. Keep your demo crisp, concise, and relevant, and you’ll keep your prospect’s attention.
When sharing a demo early in the sales process, consider focusing on two or three (at most) compelling features. There will be time for a more extensive demo later; the goal of this demo is to pique your prospect’s interest by sharing information most relevant to their business.
Early in my career, I was warned against giving a “Harbor Cruise” demo to a prospect — the ship launches, sails around the harbor, and returns to the dock without taking the passengers somewhere new. Your demo is meant to engage, educate, and inspire. Personalizing a demo requires making connections between your product and the prospect’s goals.
Video demos shared early in a process should be no longer than three minutes. An ideal duration? Less than a minute.
3. Include video in any additional follow-up communication.
Sales models and cycles vary dramatically across customers, but the use case I hear the most positive feedback about is personalized follow-ups via video. This goes for a variety of scenarios: from SDRs making cold calls to enterprise reps scheduling synchronous meetings, video gives you that extra advantage to best support and enhance the relationship.
Adding some human interaction with a video in a follow-up email, for example, can have a significant impact when nurturing prospects or checking in with customers.
Send video demo follow-ups, and tailor them to decision-makers
Executives aren’t the only ones making decisions now, but you still need to get their specific buy-in.
One of the most unfortunate reasons prospects don’t move forward with a particular solution is also one of the most avoidable: they didn’t come away with a clear understanding of the value the solution can offer to address their pain points.
Sharing video demo follow-ups immediately after a call with a prospect further communicates the value of your product, outlines the positive impacts on their business, and leads to faster buy-in from key stakeholders.
What can you do to get the first meeting sooner — or replace it altogether? Since 67% of buyers prefer customized content that addresses their specific business use case, instead of using email to introduce myself and the product for consideration, sharing an asynchronous video allows sales teams to immediately show what Loom can do to address their needs.
The role of cross-functional collaboration in securing executive buy-in
Leveraging combined knowledge makes your business case watertight. The best way to leave no doubt about moving ahead in an executive’s mind is to proactively speak to potential questions they have — but you can’t do this without having the right information ready to go.
Do your due diligence and discover your prospect’s concerns so you can directly address them and show why your product alleviates them.
Bring on colleagues from relevant teams within your company to weigh in on those specific concerns. Combining your own knowledge with the right subject matter experts lends authority to your claims to make the best case.
Buying teams are also becoming more cross-functional, with more stakeholders involved in the product evaluation process than ever before. One strategy that Mark Roberge, Managing Director at Stage 2 Capital, recommends is investing in understanding the end-users involved in the evaluation process.
Bringing a cross-functional group to the table to match theirs means more people are present to speak to different needs right away — leaving an executive feeling more amenable to buying in.
Optimize video follow-ups for engagement and include CTAs
Deciding what you’ll say and cover is only one-half of the challenge when recording a follow-up video. The other half involves optimizing for viewers to watch the entire video, and for the action, you would like the recipient to take after viewing.
With Loom, you can optimize your video follow-ups in the following ways:
The option to add a CTA button gives viewers a direct line to the task to complete — like booking a meeting — or a link to a document to review. You can thread Loom videos with CTAs as well that link to other looms.
Engagement Insights with videos confirm who watched, if they viewed the entire message and if they clicked on an included CTA.
Recipients can record video replies as comments directly below the video.
I’ve never left a product demo and wished it had continued longer — and neither have your customers. Brevity is a gift in these settings. The more concise your video is, the better.
Make your demo memorable — with video
According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, humans make 95% of their purchasing decisions subconsciously. This means that achieving a positive “feeling” with a prospect might go further than a purely logical argument. Engineering intentional moments into your follow-up process to evoke a “Wow!” reaction helps reach that goal.
I’ve spent the better part of a decade working in technology sales, and if I were to ascribe a mantra across all the customers I’ve worked with, it’s “Trust but verify.” There’s a reason most people test drive a car before they make a purchase — it’s because human beings want to pair a logical argument with a tangible experience before making a big decision. Your product demo is that test ride. It’s meant to leave your prospect with a visceral memory that they can call back.
Post COVID-19, one popular sales “guru” instructed salespeople to increase their sales outreach activity by three to five times more, suggesting that dramatically increased outreach is the best way to increase bookings. This may yield some positive results, but it also might annoy your prospects (and come off as insensitive in the process).
It’s true that in uncertain times, salespeople need to change their approach, dig deep, and try new methods to achieve their desired outcomes. Sharing a personalized product demo video with a prospective customer is a differentiated way of salespeople adding value. It shows that prospect four things:
You’ve researched their company and needs.
You’re a credible source of knowledge.
Your product can offer them some tangible ROI.
You care enough to make a real effort.
A strong product demo is engaging, relevant, and includes at least a few “aha!” moments for your customer. Ideally, the demo will convey a strong narrative that is understood and can be retold by your audience, as demos that incorporate stories are up to 22 times more memorable than demos that don’t. Sharing your narrative with a prospect early in the process will make you more memorable from day one.
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