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How video transformed remote sales in 2020: data insights

September 1, 2020
Devin Reed

Devin Reed

Sales Engagement Sales Strategies

This article is part of the Gong Labs series, where I publish findings from our data research team. We analyze sales conversations and deals using AI, then share the results to help you win more deals. Follow me to read upcoming research.

Two months ago, I bought some software. 

I needed a solution to help my team move faster towards a strategic goal.

After I’d evaluated the two vendors and chosen a solution, I couldn’t help but compare the two sales approaches.

I wasn’t thinking about the product or company accomplishments. (I’d already looked at those when I made my final decision.) 

I looked specifically for differences in sales execution. I wanted to know if there was some unknown factor that had influenced my decision.

And I kept coming back to one thing: the winning rep sold with video. 

I had assumed that the product and features were key differentiators, and I still think they are. There are clear benefits to the winning software.

But video was a differentiator that had nothing to do with the product. It had everything to do with helping the winning rep build a relationship with me.

I never felt like I really met the other rep. I never saw him; only heard his voice. At the end of the day, I didn’t really know him. That left me feeling like I didn’t know his product as well either.

The additional comfort—the trust—I had with the rep who used video motivated me to go through the ringer and get budget approval. (If you’re a seller trying to get a deal approved, here’s how to sell to budget holders.)

So I started wondering if there really was something to this ‘video bias’. 

Because if so, it’s a HUGE deal for every seller WFH right now. And I thought it could really help you beat out the competition and win deals too. 

So I had the Gong research team run the numbers.

And the answer will change how you sell.

Sidebar: About Gong Labs

New to Gong Labs? Here’s a quick explanation of how we get our data. 

We analyze anonymized B2B sales interactions from our product users, which includes everything captured by Gong’s Revenue Intelligence platform: web conference meetings, phone calls, and emails. Then we analyze how seller and buyer actions impact success rates.

For this report, we analyzed 12,282 sales opportunities from 2020 and looked specifically at video — how it’s used and its connection to win rates across SMB and enterprise sales cycles. 

What did we learn?

Well, you can go put on a clean shirt (like you did every day in pre-pandemic times) and brush your pearly whites.

Cause you’re gonna want to be on video all the time

Here’s how video helps win deals

Deals are 127% more likely to close when video is used during any point in the sales process:

That’s a massive improvement. 

And a dramatic increase from our previous post in 2017.

Clearly, the impact of selling with video is in your favor. It’s a no-brainer.

The best part? It’s as easy as combing your hair and flipping your webcam on.

Let’s dig into how you can use this remote selling advantage on your next call. 

(Press pause: Before you fire up your next Zoom or Webex, make sure you’re ready with our 10 tips for deal-making video calls.)

Sellers: Turn on your video

Two heads are better than one. 

Turns out, two senses are also better than one. 

(We talked about this phenomenon, the McGurk effect, in our previous post.)

Win rates are 94% higher for deals where sales pros sell with video on: 

Wondering why this works so well?

Well, there’s the obvious fact that most people would prefer to talk to a face instead of just a name:

Compared to…

Then there are a ton of studies that show that appearances have a massive impact on how we perceive people, from the clothes we wear to our facial expressions.

Now, this isn’t a call to wear your Sunday best every day while WFH (I’m writing this in sweat shorts for crying out loud). Instead, consider visual appearance as a means to building better relationships with your buyers.

It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being human.

Think about it: Would you feel more comfortable working with a realtor dressed in a blazer, or a Raiders jersey and Crocs? Both might be equally qualified, but humans make assumptions – especially about who is trustworthy – based on appearances. 

Use that to your advantage: Let people see that they’re dealing with a professional. It’s a way to gain their trust.

But it doesn’t stop there. 

Get your buyers to turn on their video

Clearly, flashing your sales smile pays off, but what about when buyers join in using video?

That works in your favor too. 

Our 2020 data shows that it sends win rates up by 96%:

You might notice that this is very close to the stat above regarding sellers’ use of video. There’s a very good chance they are connected because more often than not buyers will follow suit and turn on their video when the seller turns theirs on first.

Here’s why video is your best friend

Video lets sellers interpret buyers’ nonverbal communication to get additional meaning from their conversations. (It’s even more obvious when you’re reviewing a call recording.)

Understanding customers isn’t just about hearing what they say, but seeing how they say it. 

Think of all the communication outlets we lose when we limit ourselves exclusively to voice:

Body language: Is your buyer slumped in their chair and looking at their second monitor during your demo? Or are they on the edge of their seat, leaning in, hanging on every word you say? (Someone get Jim some popcorn. He’s loving it!)

Facial expressions: Did the DM scrunch her face when you shared the price? Did their audio cut out, or are they taking their time to think before answering your questions? Without seeing them, there’s no way to know. And misreading these cues can throw off your conversation. 

Listening: Sometimes we “tell” others that we’re listening and paying attention with head nods, head shakes, and eye contact. No video? No way to read your buyer. Maybe they’re listening intently, or maybe they’re scrolling through Instagram. You just don’t know.

All these nonverbal cues are critical in understanding how your buyer is digesting the conversation. They tell you when to pause and double down, when it’s safe to move on, and when to check in with your buyer.

Don’t believe it? Next time you’re watching your favorite TV show, close your eyes and just listen. See how long you can handle the mounting frustration of limiting your senses. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be lucky to get to the first commercial break (or you’ll doze off, something buyers do on calls too…).

10 tips for deal-making video calls

Feeling a renewed interest in your next Zoom or Webex call? I don’t blame you. They’re more than just video platforms. They’re gateways to more deals.

Given that, let’s make sure you’re 100% ready for Lights! Cameras! Commission!

Avoid embarrassing video call mistakes by using our 10 tips for deal-making video sales calls. This checklist includes everything you need to know about using video effectively for sales calls.

BONUS: It also includes 3 smooth-as-silk ways to ask your prospect to turn on their video. (You don’t wanna make that awkward). Now you’re firing on all cylinders. 

Download your free video sales call checklist below:

Before you jet…

Are you a fan of this post? 

(I mean, I don’t expect you to request a signed copy of the original notes or anything. I just hope you found it helpful.)

If yes, share it with your team, your fellow sales warriors.

And make sure you follow Gong on LinkedIn so you get access to fresh, research-backed sales insights. And if you’re already a Gong customer, start tracking your team’s video usage with sales tracking software nowHere’s how.

See the magic of Gong in action

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