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Introducing Video to the Sales Cycle

How do you increase overall demo efficiency, increase your competitive advantage and regain control of the sales cycle?

No, this isn’t a setup to a joke.

It sounds like an almost-impossible task doesn’t it? This is one of my projects to improve how my organization engages with prospects during the sales cycle.

First, we will explore how the use of video can increase demo efficiency by reducing the number of wasted demos. Next, we will look at how video can help deliver more client value and gain a competitive advantage, and finally we will discuss regaining control of the sales cycle by having the ability to properly create a stakeholder map.

The Problem with a ‘Standard Demo’

Many organizations will recognize this challenge; you have a brief discovery (or needs analysis) call with a prospect, this leads to a fairly standard demo, showing off all the best functionality of your product The demo goes well, but the opportunity ultimately goes cold.

Perhaps the demo wasn’t properly tailored to the prospect’s needs? Perhaps you only had contact with a single stakeholder? Either way, the opportunity has exited the sales cycle and the effort spent on the discovery and demo has been wasted.

What proportion of demos are wasted like this? How many opportunities exit the sales cycle after the demo stage? 30%? 40%? More?

That was when I began exploring the introduction of video into the demo process. I decided we could send out high-level demo videos of our product before the live demonstration by Solutions Consultants. Of course, these videos would have to be tailored based on the discovery call, showing the elements of the solution that will be most valuable to the prospect. If you can gather analytics on who has watched this video, this can act as a secondary stage of qualification. If your prospect can’t spare the time to watch a 15-minute video, then Account Executives and Solutions Consultants shouldn’t waste their time on the opportunity as it isn’t real.

The Results

The impact of this for us was tangible and real. As I’m sure is the case in many organizations, Solutions Consultants are a finite resource. Account Executives are vying for the resources they believe are required on their opportunities. This can often pose a challenge where we are looking to ensure the right resources are being assigned to the largest, most strategic deals.

By introducing video into the sales cycle, we were able to use it as a new stage of qualification. Solutions Consultants can perform live demos only after a discovery call has taken place and all stakeholders have watched the 15-20 minute overview demo video of the solution. By weeding out these non-opportunities, this allows Solutions Consultants to take a more valuable role in the organisation. Rather than being a demo-jockey on opportunities which may or may not be properly qualified, they can focus more of their time on the larger, or more strategic deals.

Educating Stakeholders

As well as weeding out the non-opportunities, we found that sending a video overview of the solution before the live demo can result in other benefits. Stakeholders come to the demo meeting with a base level of education of what it is your product does and how it works. This means you can spend your valuable face-time on the most important areas for your prospect rather than giving a harbor tour of your solution.

It hit home for me what a game-changer the use of video is in the following example. I had conducted a discovery (needs analysis) call with a prospect and had sent them the relevant overview videos based on their requirements. Before going into the live demo, I could see that every single stakeholder had watched that tailored video. When I began the demo, I asked if they would like to see the main part of the solution again. They would have already seen this in the overview demo but this was the bread and butter of the product which we would expect to cover in almost every demo.

Amazingly, they replied “no thanks”.

Instead, they had a list of questions based on that overview video. I demoed only the areas that were most important to them in a very agile environment. Not only did this result in a highly tailored demo for the client, but it also created a far more conversational approach, which results in building all-important rapport with stakeholders.

More time for differentiation

Most importantly, because Solutions Consultants are no longer inclined to perform ‘harbor tour’ demos, they have more time to focus on the client’s specific needs as well as on the areas of the product which will help it stand out from the competition.

Ultimately, with stakeholders attending demo meetings have a base level of education of the solution, more time can be spent on covering the prospect’s questions, specific requirements and competitive differentiation.

The Risks of a Single-Stakeholder Opportunity

Over the years, I have witnessed first-hand the risks of engaging with a single stakeholder. There is a risk of the opportunity going cold. They might stop replying to emails, they might change roles or even leave the organisation. If there isn’t a relationship with other stakeholders, this can jeopardize an opportunity.

A big part of the idea of introducing video to the sales cycle was the ability to regain control of a sales cycle by tracking who had watched each video and especially who it had been forwarded to. The expectation was that we would be better equipped to map out stakeholders in the sales cycle and mitigate the risk of a dependency on a single individual.

Building a Stakeholder Map

By gathering analytics on who has viewed a demo video (and for how long), we can build a picture of how engaged each stakeholder is. If they don’t bother to watch the video, perhaps the opportunity isn’t as real as it seems. The same is true if they merely skip through the video without paying attention. That’s why we now require all stakeholders to have watched an overview demo video before assigning a PreSales resource to an opportunity to reduce the number of wasted demos.

Conversely, if we can see good engagement in a video, we know the opportunity has legs. What’s more, if the demo gets shared around the stakeholder’s peers there is clearly engagement in that organisation in the sales process. Account Executives can see exactly to whom a video has been forward to help build a stakeholder map of that opportunity. More often than not, these are stakeholders who wouldn’t have been discovered under normal circumstances.

Although this was an expected outcome of the project, what I didn’t anticipate was the scale this would impact the sales cycle. We have discovered (on average) more than two new stakeholders on each opportunity. That has taken a huge amount of risk out of the pipeline where opportunities were previously dependent on a single stakeholder.

The Right Time to Reach Out

Another unexpected benefit was giving Account Executives the right opportunity to contact stakeholders. If you’ve ever been on the buying side for a piece of software, you’ll know there’s nothing worse than being called, emailed or chased when you are busy with other things. I have experienced this first hand. Even though I have full intention of acquiring the software, being badgered can be a real turn-off.

If you have real-time notifications of when a video has been viewed, you know when your prospect is in the right frame of mind to think about you and your solution. We have found that calling or sending an email within 10-15 minutes of someone watching a video has been highly successful in catching the prospect at the right time. Especially if the individual is busy and ordinarily difficult to tie down.

Thomas Edwards is an experienced Solutions Consultant for Financial SaaS Solutions. He is also the Editor at The Modern SC - a website focusing on modern methods of Solutions Consulting and enablement.

In his free time he enjoys playing music, holding Grade 8 certification in three instruments.  He is also an avid fan Formula 1.

Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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