Sales can be a thankless job.
When the phone isn't ringing and clients aren't knocking on your door to hand you more work, there's only one thing left to do. Dust off the old LinkedIn Navigator subscription and start prospecting...
Actually, there's more to selling your video production services than a few LinkedIn connection requests.
Here are a few tips for how to effectively generate results for your studio.
Clarify your positioning before you rush for the sale
You are not just another pixel-pusher. Your work is important, and your clients ought to understand how much passion and creativity it takes to create a killer spot. So why is it so hard to get them on the phone?
Do you know what makes you stand out?
When your prospective client sees your email in their inbox, will they be impressed with how unique and genuine you are? Or, will your message get lost in the sea of other vendors who are pitching a list of creative services?
It's easy to impress someone with your creativity when you're in the room with them.
Maybe you've got some cool tattoos, or you wear a trendy button-up shirt. It's easier for clients to feel the creativity when you're in the room - but it's much harder through an email or a LinkedIn message.
I often see studios talk too much about themselves. They all use the same words: award-winning, multi-disciplinary, collaborative, passionate and so forth. This approach is boring and unimaginative.
If you call yourself a "creative storyteller," why aren't you telling YOUR story in a creative way?
Here’s a great example of a studio that has something special about them: Practice Studios.
Who is your customer and what are their needs?
The (sad) truth is that your customers don't care about you unless you can explain how you can help THEM. It's important to do your research to discover information about your customer.
I always like to figure out what social network my customers use the most, and where they look for new information. Other questions might include;
- What types of content do they enjoy;
- What other brands do they follow;
- Do they use a Mac or PC?
Other demographic information is important as well but you need to put it into context by using a customer persona. This means that you've identified an audience of one (even if it's an imaginary person) and you're crafting a message that would be appealing to that specific type of person
Communicate your value
There’s more to making an impression than showing your newest project or listing your capabilities.
Position yourself as an investment, not a cost.
When you position your video production services as an investment, it helps your customer think about the big picture and it puts the cost of your services into perspective.
I love how Engage Interactive handles this on their website.
Instead of just saying “Jet2holidays Video,” they’ve titled their case study:
Smashing over 28 million plays for Jet2holidays.
You’re not just selling a service, you’re selling a result.
Focus on their problem, not your solution.
Marko Pfann once told me that in America, vendors spend most of their pitch speaking about their solution, but in Germany, vendors spend their time making sure they understand the problem correctly. The reason is, the studio that truly understands the problem is in the best position to offer the correct solution.
More importantly, clients & decision makers don’t care about your solution! They care about solving their problem. Don’t make your clients work to understand the benefit you provide.
Here’s an example from my own messaging.
I don’t say:
OnRamp has been in business for 5 years.
Instead, I say:
I’ve generated hundreds of leads for creative companies (and therefore I can generate leads for you too).
Making the sale as a video company
Ok, so you’ve done your research on your client, and you’ve taken the time to position your service as an investment. What comes next?
Establishing a sales pipeline
The sales process can take months. There's at LEAST a 30 day lead time - perhaps closer to 60 - between the time you start your lead-gen efforts and the closing of the sale.
It’s important to have a sales pipeline in place to manage this process. Don’t let your contacts slip through the cracks because you forgot about them. You will inadvertently communicate that your prospect isn’t important enough to deserve your attention if you don’t follow up regularly.
I recommend using a CRM software like Hubspot or Pipedrive. Relying on a spreadsheet is problematic because it’s not standardized, it’s hard to get data out of, and there are no protections against bad data entry.
Your CRM is the backbone of your sales pipeline, but it’s only part of the whole system.
Here are a few other tools that may be useful:
Finding Email Addresses
Easily find email addresses based on domain names. I use this when I only need to find one or two addresses. There’s a free plan with a monthly limit; great for the occasional search.
Snov.io has a LinkedIn extension that integrates nicely with LinkedIn Sales Navigator for robust searching and bulk email generation. Purchase a credit bundle for best results.
Alternative to Snov.io - same principle. Browser plugin which integrates with LinkedIn and uses a credit system to find email addresses. Their pricing isn’t as cheap as Snov.io but they have additional tools for deploying email campaigns as well as discovering email addresses.
Automatically send multi-stage campaigns using LinkedIn messaging. Export prospects from LinkedIn via Zapier automation and has detailed analytics.
More robust than Albert but also more expensive. Includes a dedicated inbox for managing your LinkedIn campaigns as well as automation via Zapier and API.
Sending Sales Outreach
Best in class tool for email outreach and analytics. Their full solution contains a database of leads AND an email outreach tool. Integrates with Hubspot and other CRM, auto-categorizes responses and auto-reschedules any Out of Office replies.
Best of both worlds, mid-range pricing and solid feature set. Fantastic support, and friendly for agencies or multiple users. I used Smartreach for years before I switched to get access to the Growbots leads database.
Nice tool, but also quite expensive. Good UI and good integrations. I haven’t used this for clients because of the price, but I’d recommend over Yesware because of the additional features.
This is my least favorite tool, but it’s quite popular. Their UI is hard to navigate, but the tool itself isn’t bad. You don’t get multi-stage campaigns unless you pay for the mid-range package. I used to use this for OnRamp and it was a nightmare to manage multiple users.
A good option for infrequent outreach. If you’re sending emails to an internal list and you don’t want to use Mailchimp, I’d use Gmass on their $12/month plan. It’s all built into your Google inbox, and there’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s a useful tool for mail merge campaigns.
Upload your media projects and share a custom reel. I have clients that use both Simian and Wiredrive, and the main difference seems to be pricing and scale.
Wiredrive seems to have a few more integrations with Premier, After Effects and Photoshop. Both Wiredrive and Simian are built for sharing video clips on a private URL and analyzing the viewer behavior.
Frame.io has a collaborative component for presenting your work in progress. Clients can comment on your video and approve or request revisions.
Another tool worth mentioning is Zapier - an app that you can use to create automations and workflows. You can save a bunch of time and busywork if you put in some time up-front to set up the connections.
Sample Zapier Automation, known as a “Zap”. This Zap is transferring data between Hubspot and MailerLite - but there are many services that can be integrated for maximum efficiency.
Bring supporting material
Purchasing is an emotional decision.
The logical brain looks for ways to justify AFTER the decision has been made.
I buy a high-end smartphone not because I need the features but because I like the status of “having the newest tech.” I tell myself (and my wife) that I need the slightly bigger battery or faster speed but it’s because I’m justifying an emotional decision with rational reasons.
Your clients do the same thing.
When you’re selling video production services, you’re selling a feeling. You want your customers to feel excited to work with you, and to be afraid of missing out if they pass on your offer.
This is the part of the process where the creatives on your team usually excel! Like I said earlier, it’s easier to impress someone when you’re in the room with them... But how many times have you thought that the client was excited after the meeting, only to have the interest die down and the communication dry up?
To help those positive vibes stick around and solidify into a project, you need more than just a few conversations.
People like to feel like they’ve done their research - it validates their emotions and helps them be more confident in their decisions. Make sure there’s enough material available for them to feel comfortable trusting you.
My number one recommendation here is to put some case studies on your website.
Case studies should do the following:
- Give your clients an idea of what it would be like to work with you;
- Explain what decisions you made along the way, and why you chose that option, and;
- Prove that you can create a quality result.
If you’re going to talk about your studio, do your best to be unique.
Here’s an example of one of my favorite “About Us” pages: ToyFight.
Who would you rather work with?
ToyFight, or one of the many studios that sound like this:
Vanilla Studios is an award-winning, multi-disciplinary collective of creative storytellers who are passionate about collaborating with our clients to create stunning visual experiences.
Everything that you say about yourself should either inspire confidence in your ability, or let the clients know that you understand their problem.
Leaving a good impression: next steps
Clients can tell if you’re just interested in closing the sale or if you care about a long-term relationship. If you hope to be a valuable partner over multiple projects, here are some things to remember:
» Be a giver
In his book, Give & Take, Adam Grant describes three kinds of people:
- Givers: Givers are others-focused, and they pay attention to what others need from them. A giver doesn’t keep score of who owes them a favor, and they tend to put the needs of others ahead of their own interest.
- Takers: Takers like to get more than they give. They want to “win,” even when it’s not a competition. Takers watch out for themselves and put their own interests ahead of others.
- Matchers: Matchers want to preserve the balance between giving and receiving. “If you do a favor for me, I’ll do one for you.”
In professional settings, most people behave like matchers or takers.
However, according to a study that Grant performed in North Carolina, salespeople who were givers brought in an average of 50% more revenue than takers and matchers.
Being a giver means potentially giving up short-term gains in favor of long-term advantages. In my business, I’ve refunded people’s money or given discounts if a client isn’t satisfied with my performance. This earns goodwill and loyalty, and it proves to my clients that I care more about the relationship than the cash.
Again, who would you rather work with? A studio that is desperate to “win” the sale, or a studio that wants to find the best solution for YOU, even if it means they don’t win the pitch?
» People buy from people
Ultimately, people don’t buy from brands, they buy from other people.
The best sales tool is a good reputation.
It’s likely that you’ll need to build a relationship with your customers for a long period of time before they trust you enough to hand you a project. “Nurturing” a lead means checking in with the prospect every so often and offering them valuable bits of information, like useful articles or relevant information.
Make yourself available!
Be visible on social networks like LinkedIn or Twitter.
This goes hand-in-hand with the case studies that I mentioned earlier.
Your prospect should feel like they’re getting to know YOU over time as well.
Selling Video is About Solving Problems
Selling your video services can be complicated, but breaking the process down into steps can help. The big picture is that you’re trying to help your clients solve THEIR problems, not yours.
Do your homework, have a system, and approach the sales pitch with a generous attitude. Make it as easy as possible for your clients to see the benefit of your service, and the value of investing their dollars with you.