The Guarantee
March 27

COVID-19: Hyper-Personalized Video Triggers Law of Reciprocity

It’s been just two weeks since gatherings of 50 or more were banned due to COVID-19, immediately obliterating the very nature of how we behave and conduct business. The rate and magnitude of change necessary to survive this pandemic on the business front is unprecedented.

While it’s easy to allow paralysis to set in, now, more than ever, we must play offense versus defense in order to maintain our visibility in the market for long-term growth and profitability. Taking a wait-and-see approach is a fast track to brand irrelevancy, and I know this first-hand.


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I opened the doors to RedRover just two years before the 2008 crash. I had a firmly held belief – from my years in Fortune 1000 leadership – that in times of crisis and notable economic downturns, those that lean in on adapted marketing and sales strategies are the ones that thrive during the recovery. I had the fortune or misfortune – however you look at it – to be able to test this theory on the front lines with RedRover while we were still in our infancy and quite vulnerable financially speaking. The risk of failure was high and could have easily resulted in us shuttering our doors like so many of my ever-so-talented colleagues in our industry. While the result wasn’t immediate, we grew 495% through 2008 and 2009, and it all can be traced to that terrifying decision to lean in and continue investing in modified sales and marketing strategies. I saw the same trend among our clients who opted to go on the offense as well, with most of those who didn’t facing precarious outcomes.

While no two economic crises are the same, you will always see a contingency of well-intended business leaders pressing the brakes out of fear – fear of making the wrong move, fear of spending cash reserves, fear of not having enough information, or fear of letting people they care about down. I relate to every one of those fears. The trick is to compartmentalize that thinking and redirect your energy to taking decisive action. After all, an object at rest stays at rest. Action wins the day. We have hours versus days as CEOs to make decisions in this unusual climate, so certainly not every decision is a winner. The key is to assess and pivot quickly. Never get too attached to a decision; results are all that matter.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing the most effective sales and marketing strategies that forward-thinking companies are executing during this crisis. My hope is that you’ll find additional inspiration to advance your vision forward with a full-on sales and marketing offensive.

Transformative Shift in How We Sell

We have taken the ability to get face to face with prospects for granted. I certainly hadn’t imagined a scenario where that would be completely off the table with virtual sales being the only option.

On the surface, it may seem difficult to differentiate yourself in an all-virtual sales environment. Your sales team is no doubt using traditional email to reach out to individual prospects. Generally, though, these emails look about the same – black text on a white screen and usually short on personality. Voicemails do add a layer of personality – tone, pace and potential for emotion – but they lack, among other things, the universal language – the human face.

So what’s the answer? Simple one-to-one video.

About a year ago, I received a courier delivery. It piqued my curiosity, as it was a bakery box with my logo printed all over the outside of it, and I certainly hadn’t ordered custom baked goods.  When I opened it, I found a gooey butter cake inside and a thumb drive with our logo on it. I didn’t see a vendor’s logo anywhere. Intrigued and interested in finding out the identity of the sender, I popped in the jump drive where I found a hyper personalized video message from their CEO to me.

He explained that St. Louis is known for its gooey butter cakes and that he wanted me to experience a little about the city he loved. The rest of this short video outlined the notable research he had conducted about our agency, and a request to visit me and the city I love. He then asked to meet, and said he’d call. You should know that I never take sales calls; but I did this time and agreed to meet. Why the change of heart?

It was because he triggered the law of reciprocity. When someone does something truly thoughtful and kind for us, we have a deep-rooted psychological urge to return the favor.

Receiving gifts from vendors is common place, but it was the video that broke through. It was far more about my company than theirs which built trust and credibility. The video wasn’t highly produced. In fact, I could tell that he had simply recorded it using his web cam. If it had been a slick, mass-produced video, I likely wouldn’t have responded. It was that it was so tailored and thoughtful that garnered the response.

Next Best Thing to Being There in Person

Video for sales is something you must consider for your sales team. It doesn’t have to be expensive, scripted or produced. In fact, it’s better if it isn’t. Simple webcam and smartphone videos – that you or any member of your sales team can put together – will immediately provide a huge lift to your efforts to connect, communicate and convert new customers. They can just as easily and effectively be delivered via email versus on a jump drive.

Video for sales is about advancing and capitalizing on your best asset – your sales team. Yes, prospects consider benefits, seek value and assess price. Ultimately, though, your sales team is the driving factor through the sales process and in the buying decision.

As humans, we are better in person, but time and distance keep us apart from prospects and customers. Video is the next best thing to being there in person.

Simple one-to-one videos – delivered via email or text message – are like voicemails with humanity, featuring your face, voice, personality, expertise, sincerity, enthusiasm and gratitude – all those rich human elements that only in-person and simple video experiences can deliver.

Hyper-Personalized Video Differentiates

When you send video for sales prospecting, people feel like they know you before you ever meet. Think about what this means for your ability to stand out in the inbox and differentiate yourself from competitors. Have you noticed your email volume spike notably now that most everyone is remote? Imagine how easy it is right now to get lost in the in-box without personalized video.

The inclusion of video in your sales process is, by itself, differentiating. That’s why now is the best time to get started with video before your competitors catch on.

Video provides differentiation at the human level and at the individual level. You’re not one in a million; you’re one of a kind.

Video Builds Trust

Video also builds trust. Unfairly so, the words that often come to mind when buyers think of salespeople aren’t that flattering. Trust doesn’t usually make the top of the list, which is unfortunate. You can accelerate the sales process by crushing these stereotypes, closing the gap between perception and reality, and bringing down a prospect’s guard – all with video.

Tricks of the Trade

There are a few keys to making these videos work.

Get Personal – Find ways to incorporate details about your prospect into your video, especially on that first “still image” that your prospect sees before clicking on your video.

We all like to see or hear our name. It’s just human nature. If the first thing your prospect sees is an image of you holding a sign with his or her name on it, they are going to be highly likely to click play. Your goal is to space out this personalization throughout the video with at least one of these moments at the beginning, one in the middle and one at the end to reward those who make it all the way through. The more closely these personalized moments are tied to the message, the more effective your video will be.

Be Conversational Don’t read a script. Know what you want to say, and then deliver it conversationally. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does need to be authentic.

Be Relatable Smile and relax. It’s about connecting through the camera.

Lighting Matters Make sure you have good lighting. Overhead lighting is the worst. Instead, invest in three soft light sources: two behind your web cam (one on the left and one on the right) and one right behind you. Then just shut off the overhead lights. You can spend less than $200 and get what you need.

Brevity Matters Don’t make your videos too long. Shoot for somewhere between 30 and 60 seconds and make 75 percent of it about them not you.

Measurable Results

One of the most popular personalized video-platform brands released results of a study that found that when a sales team uses video to engage with targeted prospects, they generate: 81 percent more replies and responses, 68 percent higher conversion, and 56 percent more referrals.

What’s more, these platforms offer deep analytics such as when an email is opened, when it’s viewed, the duration of each view, and how many times it’s viewed. This information guides your sales team in knowing just the right time to pick up the phone and call.

Best-in-class sales teams leverage personalized video as part of a larger Account-Based Marketing program.

If you would like support in developing your Account-Based Marketing program or otherwise creatively adapting your sales and marketing strategy to ensure your company thrives coming out of this crisis, let’s talk. We are currently partnering with clients to shift products and services of focus, adjust target markets and messaging, test modified pricing structures, overhaul B2B sales strategies and invest in brand-building during this unprecedented time.

Lori Turner-Wilson is founder and CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy. A fast-growing agency of seasoned professionals, RedRover is the only Memphis agency to integrate sales training with marketing strategic planning and execution. RedRover has a uniquely intense focus on achieving measurable results for its clientele, as the only Memphis area agency to offer its clients a results guarantee. The agency’s diverse client roster represents nearly every industry vertical in greater Memphis.

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