Episode 75: Using Video to Start Outreach Conversations – Fernando Silva

Predictable Prospecting
Episode 75: Using Video to Start Outreach Conversations - Fernando Silva
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Starting a conversation is the first step in the sales process, and it is also a step that most salespeople would like to be more successful at. There are a lot of channels that can be used to start that all important first conversation, but today we are going to discuss an emerging channel that can generate curiosity and add that personal touch.

Today, I am speaking with Fernando Silva who is a solutions associate at Wistia which is really the same role as a sales development rep or SDR. Wistia is a professional video hosting platform that offers analytics along with video marketing tools. They also offer advanced marketing integrations for video that can help create the ultimate lead nurturing tool. I met Fernando at a conference, and I was intrigued with how he is using video to reach out and start conversations.

Episode Highlights:

  • How Marylou tripled her response rates with cold video
  • How Wistia targets large and small accounts but they focus on the SMB space
  • Fernando works more on the inbound model of contacts who go to the website
  • They use free accounts for signups, then they begin outreach with customers who fit their target personas
  • SDRs reaching out and introducing themselves with video
  • Researching the customer and their website and pointing out tips and suggestions in personalized video
  • There is a learning curve to making great video, but Fernando can make about 30 in a 2 hour period
  • Putting the word in the subject line
  • Touchpoints and replies help nurture the conversation with more embedded video
  • The easiest way to get started is with the Soapbox Chrome extension


Episode Transcript:

Marylou: Hey everybody, it’s Marylou Tyler. Today’s guest is a gentleman from a company called Wistia. If you haven’t heard of them, make sure you look them up. I met Fernando Silva, who’s on the line with us, at a user group conference that they had in Massachusetts. I brought my kids to this conference because I wanted them to start thinking about, learning about understanding the importance of video.

                    While we were there, I was learning about how Fernando and his team are using video to start conversations in the outreach channel so I asked him to join us today and talk to us about what he’s finding in using this what I call, new channel. We have email, we have phone, we have direct mail, and now, we have video to help us start conversations. Fernando, welcome to the podcast.

Fernando: Thanks. It’s a pleasure being here with you, Marylou. I’m super excited to be able to share what we do here at Wistia and how we’re using video to outreach in our video out when our sales outreach process and try to just spark conversations and enlighten people and share some really cool information with our customers.

Marylou: Wonderful. Your title with Wistia you said is a Solutions Associate but in reality, the role that you’re performing is the role of the Sales Development Rep, the SDR. Are you working with accounts large and small? Give us a sense for what accounts you’re targeting right now and then we’ll talk about your use of video into these accounts.

Fernando: That’s a great question. We work with smaller accounts to smaller mom and pop shops all the way up to enterprise sales but what we really see that we specialize in is the SMB space. Typically, companies that have a buying process that’s more straightforward.

We’re more of a self served company if they want that option but if they want to explore further features and have a better understanding of what they would be buying, we can put them through basically the full touch of our sales process where I can have a discovery call, enlighten them on what’s possible like with video, see if it’s a good fit and then loop them in with one of our experts here depending on what their specific use case is.

Marylou: Okay. This is sounding very similar to the Predictable Revenue model where we had folks who developed the leads in this case and they became opportunities by either doing a demo or having an in depth are-we-a-fit or we call it AWAF call. Once it bubbled up to the top where it was worthy of time and resources from Wistia, in this case, you would do that handoff to an account executive that would take it the rest of the way.

Fernando: You’re right.

Marylou: Okay, tell us what is new with this video thing? I was just blown away with my results. Just to preface it with the audience who’s thinking well yeah, it’s Marylou. No. A lot of people don’t know me. I have been experimenting with cold, cold lists. I just did one last week with Nashville list. No one knows me in Nashville at all. The response rates that I got are incredible but I want you to share your whole process and what you’re seeing on average since you’re going to have a larger sampling size than I do. Take it away, Fernando.

Fernando: To start off, you mentioned that you were working with more of cold lists. Here at Wistia, we work more on the inbound model where we have people sign up for accounts or have interacted with our website. Those are the type of contacts that we focus on. Typically, as an SDR or Solutions Associate here at Wistia, we have people sign up for our free accounts. Quite significant amount of free account sign ups per month.

Depending on the criteria, if they fit the persona that we believe is the best suited customer, that’s when we begin our outreach. That’s qualified by several factors. Maybe company size, maybe type of marketing automation platform that we have in Text Stack and title and so on and so forth.

                    We get several contacts a day that sign up with an account so they are familiar with our product and our service. Maybe, they’re just curious and wants to learn a little bit more. What we do as SDRs here starting with the first attempt when reaching out to someone is introducing ourselves via video.

You mentioned that you’ve been experimenting with Soapbox, which is our quick and easy video creation tool here that’s a chrome extension where you can use webcam and screen share at the same time to create a fast and high quality personal video to a prospect that you want to use.

Starting from the first attempt, I do some research, look at that prospect’s website. If I see any actionable, basically any calls to action or anything that they could use video to improve their website design or help them achieve their goals quicker, I point out those things with my screen share after introducing myself to them as a point of contact at the company and just give them some tips and some suggestions. It’s not really a hard sell. All I’m doing is trying to help them maximize the use of video within their website if I see the potential there.

We’ve seen a lot of people who really love that approach of reaching out to them rather than just a cold email. They like, “Hey, it’s Fernando. Do you want to buy x, y, z?”

Marylou: Right. Like I said, I’ve been experimenting with it here. I’m sure people are thinking okay, wow. Personalized videos, that must take forever. Because the research alone takes some time and now, you’re actually crafting, creating and perhaps editing in some cases, a video.

                    You’re full time in this role, correct, as Solutions Associate?

Fernando: That is correct. Yes.

Marylou: Let’s pretend you had block time and you just said, okay, it’s Tuesday. It’s my video preparation day. Two hours usually is our block time to prospect, how many videos on average do you think you could create that are of good quality, that you feel great about sending to prospects?

Fernando: That’s a great question. There was definitely a learning curve for me in the beginning, coming into the video world. I wasn’t really exposed to putting myself out there so I was a little hesitant shooting videos and making sure I was saying the right thing so there was a learning curve there in the timing. It took me a little bit longer to make videos, I must admit. But after a couple of months of doing it, with the 2 hour block, I could probably make around 30 good, custom videos that features the website, edit it with call to actions with the videos custom tailored to that contact. I can make about 30 videos in a 2 hour period, highlighting what they could do.

Marylou: That’s great. You’re also highlighting what they can do so you’re also giving them some actionable results or giving them some things that they can get their arms around and actually perform and activate.

Fernando: Yes, exactly.

Marylou: Yeah. For those listening, the Predictable Revenue model, we were hoping to do 20 to 25 emails a day with an SDR that had probably two to three calls before that lead was transitioned over to a quota carrying person. What that means is with this video in the mix, it’s very doable for those of you who are thinking, “Wow. It seems a little daunting.” It’s not.

                    It’s better because you also have the ability now to get higher open rates, higher click through rates, and higher response rates, which we’ll talk about in a minute. In terms of the effort, if we think of that quadrant of I want to have the least amount of effort with the highest amount of impact, video is definitely a tool in the arsenal that you’re going to want to explore and use.

Fernando: Yes, that’s correct. Not only do you see the benefit of the increased metrics, you get a higher click through rate, a higher response rate as well and ultimately, a higher conversion rate because you’ve created that personal relationship. Right off the first email, you introduced yourself, you put a friendly face to a name. It is a real person on the other side. It’s not just an automated email being sent out to these contacts. But if someone on the other side actually providing actionable insight, that’s what makes the difference too.

Marylou: Right. You don’t need to spill all the beans but let’s talk a little bit about metrics. I haven’t hit the sampling size because if you study market research, which I’m a student of, we really need to have 384 responses or 384 click throughs before I can say with 95% confidence that my metrics are hitting the goals that I’m looking for or that they’re consistent enough.

                    But I can share with you what I’ve gotten with my small universe which is about 100 people that I sent videos to. I made two or three different flavours of the video, depending on the persona. The video went out as more of a generic video. But so far, my actual open rates are in the 48% range. My click through, the last time I checked, was about 32%. Which on average, just so you guys know what I’m looking for when I’m working with clients on regular email click throughs is 9% to 11%.

                    Right then and there, I’m tripling my output without doing anything new other than sitting down, staring into my recorder thing that’s sitting on the top of my computer.

Fernando: Your webcam.

Marylou: My webcam, yes, my recorder thing. And making sure that I’m not in my pajamas. I’m experimenting now also with duration but my video’s average is between 15 and 30 seconds long, somewhere in that range so I don’t wear people. That’s what I’ve been getting. Because this is now July, when we’re recording this, so people are on holiday, I’m getting people responding back still from what was that event, or where are you going to be or what’s this about.

Fernando: That’s cool. I think you hit it right on the nail with that. Typically, from what I see our open rates with email that not only has an email within the body but has the word video on the subject line, it’s close to 50%, which is what you said around 48% for you. Videos with an email, like you typically said, we have around 10% click through rate, maybe a little bit less.

But with the video thumbnail within the body of the email, we see an increase around 22% on that, which would be around the 35% or 33% mark that you mentioned. Your test are right in line with us even though your sample size might be a little bit smaller but it means that it is right on target with what we’ve been seeing on our end here.

Marylou: And remember guys, my list is cold. Fernando’s list, they’ve at least raised a thumbnail or a little fingernail saying I may be interested whereas with me, it’s cold in those levels of awareness that we learned in the Wistia conference. There are the unaware or the problem aware level from these cold people. They don’t know if they have a problem or they’re not really aware of who I am whereas Fernando’s are starting with perhaps a higher level of interest to begin with.

                    These are phenomenal numbers. I know we’re probably on the cusp of coming up the exponential wonderfulness and then it’s going to level up and fall flat on its face. But for right now, this video is something that if you guys are listening to this, embrace it, it’s going to really change the way that you prospect.

Fernando: Being an early adaptor with video in your outreach process will definitely be very beneficial for now because there are not a lot of people out there taking the time and effort. Being comfortable on camera to send out a personal message to a stranger definitely is something that we see as very good for outreach right now.

Marylou: The other thing too, another lesson here for everyone, as Fernando said, it took him a couple of months because he wasn’t comfortable necessarily, talking to cold people or talk talking to people he didn’t know. He wasn’t necessarily comfortable with his use of language. All of these things as an SDR, a video is going to help you get better so that when you get on the phone even, you’re going to be more polished. You’re going to be more confident. Because you’ve said this thing over and over again, this is going to be second nature. More of a habit as opposed to disciplined or sheer will to get on the phone.

                    There are other benefits to video, not just the fabulous click through and response rates. By the way, my response rates were in the double digit. They were somewhere hovering between if I had a response there, a reply back, I did one here in Des Moines, Iowa where I had a reply back and it might be because it’s Midwest, but they were in the 28% to 29% reply back, actually.

I only sent out, I think there are a total of 96. The confidence rate is really low. It could swing either way but I was trying to see if I can get people to come to an event that I was hosting. I asked them to actually reply with the reply button and say yay or nay. That was an amazing response. Bottomline is we’re just really not burning the list. If we do these types of cadences and rhythms where we include video, we don’t have to send as many things out to get the responses that we’re looking for so that our conversations and our pipeline continues to grow.

Fernando: That’s true. Just for me to ask about your experience with video, was this after one email attempt that you saw your response rate go up because of that specific video thumbnail that you set up?

Marylou: Yes.

Fernando: That’s really great.

Marylou: I did a very light, light touch. In the book, there were 6 or 10 touch sequence on cold emails. I, last minute, decided to do this and so I sent out only three emails. The first email was a video and it said video on the subject line so that was another key point that Fernando mentioned in case you missed that. We put the word video in the subject line. I put brackets around it because it seems to be a nomenclature that people are using so I tried that.

                    Then I put the person’s first name and, “Are you coming?” That was my subject line. It’s video, first name, are you coming? And then with the thumbnail of me inviting them to the event. The second email was, “Hey, did you see that first email I sent you? It’s about an event in Des Moines, Iowa. I would love for you to come. Hit reply.” The third one was, “Hey, the event is in a couple of days. I haven’t heard from you. I would love to see you there, see your smiling face IRL, in real life.” That kind of thing. We had a full house.

Fernando: Yeah. That is awesome. Similar to you, that’s exactly how I do mine. I have a longer touch cadence. We do six touches here but my first and second attempt are very similar to yours. I have the video within the body of the email. I have a video on the subject line with the contact’s first name. My second touch is a reply to that video just for them to make sure to bring that video back to their attention and for them to see that it’s a custom video that I actually made for them.

                    I mention in the body of my email saying that, “Hey, I took the time to make this video for you. It was really cool being able to explore your website and give you some ideas and some suggestions. If you missed the video the first time around, here it is again.” I see high reply rates to that because sometimes, they overlook the first email thinking it’s just a general email that people are sending out. With that reply back, I’ve seen some success there with engagement and getting a reply.

Marylou: In the world of non-video, typically, the cadence is to do an in thread reply for email number two because it is kind of common that people would miss it but the RE in the subject line for that in thread does get people to at least look at it. Even in regular email world, the in thread reply in email number two position still is a champion in terms of getting people to open. If you have something of value that you have inside the body, then click through and/or reply.

                    What else can you share with us in terms of the use of video? Is it just email one or do you embed somewhere along that six touch more generic videos or is it too much of a good thing, too much? What’s your opinion there?

Fernando: That is actually a great question. That is what I do. I do have more general videos embedded throughout my later touches. Usually coming around touch four or five, depending on what I see as beneficial for them to see. I have videos walking them through the platform with quick tips so if they want to add for example, call to action within a video or an email capture form within a video because I see that’s something that would be beneficial to them after doing some research.

I send that more generic video out but within the body of my email, I name a few actions that I’ve seen on their website and how they could use video to help them either generate more contacts or add call to action to help drive traffic to landing pages. It’s still a custom email but with more of a generic video rather than me sitting down again and making a video and walking them through how to do it, how to add certain features to our reply form.

Marylou: Very good. I can’t believe we’re almost running out of time here. What I wanted to ask you is to share with everybody, if you’re in a big company, you probably have to go through a little bit more hoops in order to start doing this, but if you’re a solo or a very brave Account Executive or SDR and want to try video, what’s the easiest way to get started?

Fernando: The easiest way to get started to make high quality videos in my opinion is just to, like I said, we have our Soapbox Chrome extension which is super easy to install. You can pull it up. It gives you some direction on how to shoot a high quality video, stare straight into your webcam, and with the screen share aspect of it as well. Within minutes, you can get going and make videos. Highly tested out making a video, sending to your colleagues, without giving them a warning so they can take a look and have the experience of what it’s like to receive a video on the other end and get things going that way.

                    What we typically recommend is just start doing it. You don’t really need to be an expert in shooting videos or to be an actor to be in front of the camera. You speak to people everyday. You have conversations everyday face to face. This is just another way of having them or personal conversation even though you don’t have the ability to see that person eye to eye at the moment. It’s cool. It’s a good tool that we’ve been working with and I highly recommend it for anyone that wants to start using video in terms of business communications in general or for their sales outreach.

Marylou: For the folks, on your page, because we’ll set up a Fernando page that people can get more information on Wistia and learn more about you, I’ll put some of my videos on there because the links for Soapbox are public links and I’ll just share with you what I look like.

Mostly, I record on Saturday mornings when the dogs are not bugging me, my kids are in college, I don’t have to make breakfast or do anything. I just sit here and do one after another. My goal, as part of my workflow, is to do about 20 videos a week because I am just one person so I don’t need to have the volume of opportunities.

But keeping that consistency up just like having this podcast, allows me to really articulate my core message as to why people should change, why now, and why me. That’s really what it’s all about. This gives you a way to practice even using this Soapbox tool, which I recommend that you guys all get. It’s fun. You need basically the webcam or your computer camera and then you can get a cheap mic, mine’s like $20 or so, and I talk into that and that’s it. You’re ready to go.

Fernando: That’s awesome. Great to see that you’re having great experience with Soapbox and making videos and that you’re seeing some really great positive results.

Marylou: Oh, yeah. I love it.

Fernando: It makes my job super exciting because that’s what I work with everyday and it’s cool to see that it’s affecting people in a positive way.

Marylou: Oh, yeah. I’m all about maximizing return on effort so when I can see that my 100 names go further, my list, basically I don’t have to keep it dormant as long because I’m not burning through it, I don’t have the issue with net new records. I just basically have a very robust and healthy list because I don’t have to tax it as much when we’re having these high converting tools that we can use.

                    Let’s wrap up by telling the audience, Fernando, how they can get a hold of you. If there are any types of educational materials, I’ll make sure that we put them on the website so they can click over to Wistia and the how to of how to get started for dummies, the 101 version which is what I needed. Tell us how to get a hold of you if people have questions and whatever else you want to share in terms of contact information.

Fernando: If you want to get a hold of me to explore a little bit more about the use of video for your sales outreach or you just want to explore on how you can use video for you business, you can reach me at my personal email. It’s mourasilva.fernando@gmail or if you want to reach me at my work email, it’s fsilva@wistia.com. I’ll be happy to help you guys get started and explore what Wistia has to offer with either Soapbox, which is our Chrome extension or our video hosting platform, in general, for more basic video hosting needs.

Marylou: Wonderful. Again everybody, I’ll put these links in Fernando’s contact information on the webpage when we announce the podcast. It’ll be all there for you. Fernando, thank you so much for your time. I’m just over the top excited about having yet another tool that we could use in our cadences, in our rhythms, in order to reach people we don’t know, and share the why behind our message.

                    The other thing about video that I love is that your enthusiasm, your passion comes just screaming through because you can’t not be excited about your product and shoot a video. It doesn’t work.

Fernando: That’s the main thing for me. Just letting your personality be showcased within a video so people actually get to know you, who you are as a person. That’s extremely effective. It makes my job more enjoyable and the other person on the other end receiving the message more enjoyable as well.

Marylou: Definitely. Thank a lot, Fernando.

Fernando: Thanks, Marylou.

Marylou: We’ll talk to you soon.

Fernando: Thanks again for the opportunity and we’ll talk later. Bye.