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How to break the ice in a sales meeting with video

As a salesperson, there can be nothing more intimidating than walking into a room full of strangers and kicking off the meeting. Will you connect with them? Are you confident that your product or service is the right fit for them? How will you break the ice?

One great way to break the ice and kick off a sales presentation is with a strong video. A video can work wonders in showing your prospect that you understand his or her problems and are there with solutions. An effective  video is like your wingman — setting you up to look good so you can close the deal.

In this episode, we break down:

  • Why the opening of your sales presentation is the best time to use video
  • How video can show that you understand and empathize with your prospect
  • Why comedy is your secret weapon for showing you understand a prospect or industry

Key quotes

"Now you know that you're not the only salesperson they're speaking to. The thing you have to fight is their fatigue. So the more you look and sound like everybody else, the more you're just noise." - Guy Bauer
"A video can drop an empathy bomb. You can drop this video that has so much empathy right in your target customer's problems or their life or whatever it is. Instead of talking about yourself and how great your company is, you talk about their life. Now the people in the room go like, 'Wow, that was entertaining.' or 'That was funny.'" - Guy Bauer
"But you should not expect this video to do all the selling for you. That is why you have a sales team. They are much better at actually closing the deal than any video is ever going to be. You can't expect the video to be everything.'" - Hope Morley

Resources, videos, and other stuff we talked about

"Make the logo bigger" song

Office Space - The classic printer scene [NSFW]

Steve Martin's plumber joke

You can listen to the episode using the player embedded above, or you can read a full transcript below.

Episode transcript

Guy Bauer: Welcome to So you need a video, the only podcast ...

Hope Morley: That we know of ...

Guy Bauer: About simplifying your brand sales message with video. I'm Guy Bauer.

Hope Morley: And I'm Hope Morley.

Guy Bauer: And Hope, today's show is about using video in your sales pitch or your sales funnel?

Hope Morley: Yeah, and I got the idea for this episode because I've been getting a lot of those like customized sales videos emailed to me or sent in LinkedIn messages recently. I'm sure you're getting them all the time too, that they record just this crappy webcam video that they're like "Hi, Hope. We hear that you are [reading job title] at [read company name]." But you know, they're trying to get your attention any way they can, right? And they usually get you for like 10 seconds. Like it does work.

Guy Bauer: Yeah.

Hope Morley: There's a reason why they're doing it. So it got me thinking about the most effective way to get your potential client's attention, and video can be a great way to do that.

Guy Bauer: Yeah, totally. Especially when you're in a ... You know, what's interesting is there's kind of two huge buckets of where to use videos. So there's lead gen, and then lead conversion. I mean, there's obviously, a sales funnel has a little bit more, a few more steps than that.

Hope Morley: Sure.

Guy Bauer: But if you think about marketing using video to generate leads and brand awareness, that's where you're going to do commercials and stuff like that, or those, really top of funnel videos. But then there's the sales folks who use these videos in more of a sales enablement context, where they're live, showing these videos either, typically they're starting their presentation with a video or ending a presentation with a video. And that's what we're going to talk about today. So like how do you do that?

Hope Morley: Mm-hmm. So to get us started, why does video capture people's attention so well? So why should you even put that up front in your sales pitch?

Guy Bauer: Yeah, and it could be up front or at the end. I like up front.

Hope Morley: And why do you prefer that?

Guy Bauer: Here's the way to think about a sales pitch. And I love salespeople. I feel like salespeople in a different life would be entertainers, would be like stand-up comedians. Salespeople have to go into situations where they don't know what they're gonna find. They're usually traveling too. So they're in a different time zone, they're with different sensibilities, and they literally have to read the room in seconds and start dancing and selling.

Guy Bauer: So if you're a salesperson listening to this, think about your potential client, right? So they got into the conference room and you did your thing in front of them. Now you know that you're not the only salesperson they're speaking to. They're speaking to, I don't know, it could be two, three, five more companies. The thing you have to fight is their fatigue. So the more you look and sound like everybody else, the more you're just kind of noise. The idea is that why I think video is so powerful if done well to start a presentation, is it immediately polarizes the whole thing, and it immediately, in like a pre-packaged one minute, 90 second, 120 second video can instantaneously separate you from everybody else.

Guy Bauer: Basically you kind of, it's almost like a log jam, you know, they have to blow it up with TNT. Think of your customers, your potential customers' minds. They've been log jammed up with just company after company saying the same things. "Our IT infrastructure implementation solutions have 98% guaranteed up time. We have co-location," whatever it is, right? They're all saying that. They're all talking about their features and benefits. No salespeople, none of your competition are going in and saying "Well, we actually stink and you should select that guy's company."

Hope Morley: "You know who's better."

Guy Bauer: Yeah. None of them say that. So what you need to do is, like I said, blow up that log jam, is you come into the meeting and you literally blow up the room in terms of their expectations of what this meeting is going to be about. And video to me is the best thing, short of you literally getting on the conference table and doing like a full dance or something.

Hope Morley: But even a tap dance is not actually going to be that effective, because at the end of the tap dance they're like "Wow, that guy can tap dance. But I still need to streamline my IT infrastructure and I am not convinced that this guy knows how to do that." So let's talk about how to use video for that. What are some different ways that brands can create a video? What's an effective way to create a video that's going to open up a sales pitch?

Guy Bauer: Mm-hmm. There's this famous Steve Martin joke where he starts the joke with saying "You know, I don't usually customize my material, but I heard there's a plumber's convention in town. So here's a little joke for the plumbers." And then he goes into this very hyper-specific plumber joke, whereas this lawn maintenance guy was on a job with another plumber, and he used a Finley sprocket, and the lawn supervisor said ... and it's like this very complex, and it ends, the punchline is "It says sprocket, not socket." And of course he does the joke.

Hope Morley: Crickets.

Guy Bauer: And there's total crickets. And he ends it by saying "Were the plumbers supposed to be here, this show?" But if you think about it, what Steve Martin is attempting to do is ingratiate and empathize and reach into his audience's soul and say "I get you." You know what mean? So one of the main ways to use video is to, like I said, drop a bomb on that meeting and kind of blow it up and kind of break that log jam of what your potential clients have been seeing over and over and over, the same video over and over and over.

Guy Bauer: But really you can drop an empathy bomb. You can drop this video that has so much empathy in your target customer's problems or their life or whatever it is. Instead of talking about yourself and how great your company is, you talk about their life. And now the people in the room go like "Wow, that was entertaining, that was funny." Or "That is so true." And basically you could do what Steve Martin was attempting to do, was really make customized content for those plumbers. Now imagine if the plumbers were there, they would love Steve Martin forever.

Hope Morley: Right. So what you're demonstrating there is that you really understand your customers, so you're not just coming in proving that you understand your product. Because as a good salesperson, obviously you should understand the product that you're selling, but you're showing with that video that you understand your customer's problems. And then for the rest of the pitch they're already attuned to thinking "Oh, this guy can solve my problem because he knows what it is. He's already connected with me."

Guy Bauer: Yeah, you're 100% correct. It's really the trick that psychics use. So psychics start with doing cold readings to build trust. So they say you're a kind soul. You've always felt like you're different than everyone else. You are worrying about someone in your life. You're concerned about them. You have a mom and dad, but they didn't always get along.

Hope Morley: How did you know?

Guy Bauer: You know? Well, this is universal.

Hope Morley: Right.

Guy Bauer: But what they're doing is just empathizing with you so that you build trust with them. So that then when the psychic says their psychic prediction, you're more apt to believe it or follow their advice or whatever. So that's the thing, is the video really, to start the session, it blows up that log jam, it blows up the expectations and the boredom, and it immediately makes you look different. Now, if you've got empathy, now you're empathizing, if the film has empathy in it, you're hyper-empathizing with that room. Basically you've converted the room into "Okay, let's listen to this person." It doesn't let you off the hook. Now your sales team actually still does need to sell.

Hope Morley: Right, the rest of your pitch to be good.

Guy Bauer: Right.

Hope Morley: But on top of empathizing with your customer, what you can also use the video to do is actually bring in a little bit of comedy and an inside joke. So this is another way that you can show that you understand your client, is showing that you understand their industry. And I find that a great way to prove that you understand something is if you can make a joke about it, right? Because you can't make a joke or make something entertaining about something you don't understand, especially when you're talking to people who do really get it. So using a comedic video with an inside joke, suddenly those people are going to be hanging on every word, because you've just proven that you're like one of them. And I think we did this recently. You want to talk about this example?

Guy Bauer: Yeah. And before I talk about the example, I'll talk about the reason why, if you think about it, why Office Space, the movie, blew up, is that we've all worked in an office, we've all had that boss, we've all had a Lundberg.

Hope Morley: We've all had that printer.

Guy Bauer: We've all had the printer. And so those were a series of inside jokes. And really what you want to do is make an inside joke that's not too inside, but an inside joke that's inside enough for your audience to go like "Oh my gosh." And they just feel like that magic trick. Like "Oh my gosh, you really get me." Every industry has the inside jokes, has inside humor, every single industry. There's these little things that when we get together with our industry brethren, we joke about. So in the agency world, unfortunately we joke a lot about our clients.

Hope Morley: We, of course, never do.

Guy Bauer: We don't, no. I always tell them to knock it off. But there's these inside jokes. You know, in the agency world there's this whole song making fun of clients always wanting the logo bigger. So they made a music video called Make the Logo Bigger. And it's just a song about making the logo bigger. So in every industry, I haven't come across an industry that doesn't have inside jokes. And maybe they're not jokes, but inside pain points. Industries where like when you get together at a conference, you just start talking about the stuff that you're never gonna talk about in front of your customers. That's what we can leverage with your target customers. So your target customers have inside jokes or have inside pain or stuff that is not on their website, you know what I mean? The more we can put that in a video and make a joke out of it.

Guy Bauer: Now again, your customer's like "Well, the only way you can make a joke out of this," they're gonna say this to themselves, "The only way you could possibly make a joke out of this is if you understand it."

Hope Morley: Right.

Guy Bauer: If you are on the inside. And again, now you just look way more trustworthy, like you're on the inside, which you are. Here's the thing, and this is why I think salespeople should be involved. Marketing people, close your ears, but I like talking to salespeople a little bit more than marketing folk when we are doing our initial discovery and research, because the salespeople, again, they're entertainers. They know when something lands and something doesn't. If you think about your sales enablement strategy and everything, it's really just you're giving them a set list, right? And they're just using different songs, or if you want to use that metaphor, they're using different jokes, right? If they're stand-up comedians. And they're testing, and they're constantly testing content, what works, what doesn't work, so I love ...

Hope Morley: And they're building their own tool kit out of what you've given them.

Guy Bauer: Correct. And so that's why I love talking to salespeople and say "Well, what's working? When you play this, or when you say this line," a lot of times content comes out of what a salesperson just tells me that they say to a client, and then we make a full video out of that thing. So if you're in sales leadership or if you're even in marketing, you have to talk to your salespeople, because they are on the ground. They are the ones that know what works and what doesn't work.

Hope Morley: Absolutely.

Guy Bauer: But I think talking about video is like, imagine if you went into a sales presentation with a guaranteed win. And that's what we want to do with a video that opens your presentation. It's a guaranteed win. Now there's nothing guaranteed, you know, it could be a total whiff. But sometimes, right? We want a 90% guarantee rate. Meaning if I hit play on this video to start my sales presentation, 90% of the time it's going to land and the room is going to switch to being on my side. And ask any stand-up comedian or salesperson alike, they're going to tell you if the room is on their side, things just get a lot easier.

Hope Morley: Mm-hmm. And it's memorable after that pitch meeting, right? So you've got your leave-behinds, you've got whatever you want the potential customer to take out of the meeting. But if they're sitting through four other technology logistic firm pitches, they're all gonna start bleeding together in their mind. But if you can open with that video and it's something, especially if it empathizes with them, especially if it hits those inside jokes, they're going to actually remember you and remember that video.

Guy Bauer: Sometimes, if you just think about five squares, right? Think about five squares. Four of them are white, one of them is black. So you're looking at five squares in your brain, four of them are white, one of them is black. Which one sticks out the most?

Hope Morley: The one that's different.

Guy Bauer: Right, the black one. So the idea is, even if the video was so markedly different, that will give you the credit. So don't get so gummed up and worked up and like "Well, it needs to say all the features and benefits and all that." Actually, it doesn't, because the video is really just meant to stick out in their mind and be like "Wow, what was that company that had that funny thing? That was pretty cool."

Hope Morley: Yeah, I was gonna make that really important caveat, that when we're talking about this, video is not the only tool for these pitch meetings that you're going to be using, right? If you're a salesperson going in, you're trying to give things to your sales team, you should not expect this video to do all the selling for you. That is why you have a sales team. They are much better at actually closing the deal than any video is ever going to be. You can't expect a video to be everything. Don't expect it to include everything. There's still a presentation that's coming after the video, and that's where you can list your features and benefits. That's when you talk about your percentages and your numbers and how much you're going to save the client going forward and how great your implementation team is. None of that should be in your video. That all comes in the presentation.

Guy Bauer: I agree. And I think salespeople would agree with me. It's so hard to walk into a room cold and just start. And if we had an asset, a prepackaged asset that in 90 seconds boils down our brand essence, our single most important value prop, that's super valuable. Because again, now it depressurizes the system for your salespeople. Now the pressure's off of them to give the big picture elevator pitch, and now they can get down to what they do best, is guiding the client through the selection of the different services you offer and all that stuff.

Hope Morley: Answering questions, tailoring the offerings, things that a person does really, really well.

Guy Bauer: Yeah, and so we find that the exam- and I never got to the example that you talked about. But the big four accounting firm that shall not be named, they do a lot of stuff with robotic process automation, and this is like really, when I do the competitive analysis on the other robotic process automation offerings, they're all explainer videos. They're explainer videos talking about how robotic process automation can free up humans to do better, more inspired work. So in case you don't know what robotic process automation is, it's basically a computer program that does very mundane tasks. So it'll enter data entry, right? All these tasks that humans do right now that have a lot of errors in them, a robot can do all those kind of low-level easy tasks, freeing up the human to do better, more inspired work.

Guy Bauer: And like I said, usually when you look at all of our client's competitors, when they talk about their robotic process automation offering, it's all features and benefits. It's all explainer. It's all just a bunch of numbers and stuff that, keep in mind, all of their competitors can say the same stuff. So what we did was we made a spot where it's basically one big inside joke. The only way you're going to get the jokes in this video is if you have experience in robotic process automation. But when my clients tell me they play this video, they have the entire room in stitches. Basically they're doing what Steve Martin attempted, a highly industry-specific, customized inside joke. But if you have those plumbers in front of you, it will land, and it will land big time. So it's really, it's this idea of be inside to your target audience. Don't be so focused on the features and benefits and all that stuff.

Hope Morley: Yeah. At the end of the day, a good video like that, it makes you stand out. Your features and benefits, yes, these clients are in this meeting because they want your service. And your benefits aren't necessarily gonna make you stand out, but a good video can.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. It's all about giving your salespeople the tool to turn the room into their favor so that they can do what they do best. And so a video to start or end. Now, when we have clients that end their presentation with a video, it's really meant to be almost like a leave-behind, something that is kind of summarizing their entire pitch. So it's a little bit more information-focused rather than inspiring. You know, I've heard somewhere that in the sales cycle, there's, an early stage buyer wants to be inspired. A late stage buyer wants to be reassured. So that's a way to think about video in your presentations. So to start your presentation, if you use a video, that should be inspiring someone. And then if you end your presentation with video, that should be the reassurance, so that you can take the next step and potentially move down the sales funnel with your company.

Hope Morley: With that client.

Guy Bauer: Yep.

Hope Morley: So to wrap up everything that we talked about, video is a great way to capture clients' attention to kick off a presentation. It'll make you stand out. It shows that you can empathize with your customer's problems, which then shows that you're in the in crowd and in the know about what their actual issues are. It can also tell an inside joke to show that you understand the client's industry. And all those things just combine to make you stand out. And what we all want to do at the end of the day is stand out and be the company that our clients pick.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. Hallelujah. Cool. Well, that's it for this episode. Thanks for listening to So You Need a Video. For more information and for links to any videos we talked about in this episode, visit our website at Umault.com, that's U-M-A-U-L-T.com. If you like what you heard today, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. Thanks, Hope.

Hope Morley: Thanks, Guy.

Guy Bauer: Thanks, Hope.

Hope Morley: Thanks, Guy.





Picture of Guy bauer, founder of umault

Guy has been making commercial videos for over 20 years and is the author of “Death to the Corporate Video: A Modern Approach that Works.” He started the agency in 2010 after a decade of working in TV, film and radio. He’s been losing hair and gaining weight ever since.

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