EPISODE 640: Deep Dive into How Group Management Services is Using Covideo Tools in Their Sales Process

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Today’s show featured an interview with Covideo sales leader John Simpson and his customer, Group Management Services Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) David Swift.

Find John on LinkedIn. Find David on LinkedIn.

JOHN’S ADVICE:  “Don’t be afraid of the phone. Don’t be afraid of texting. Don’t be afraid of video. Don’t be afraid. You’re just a human trying to sell their stuff. The other thing I would say is something that I had an epiphany on recently, is don’t chase a title. Chase what you want your results to be.”

DAVID’S ADVICE:  “Spend time in execution. It comes down to can you execute the plans in front of you? You don’t need to spend time in the areas to recreate the wheel as they say. There are people who’ve been in front of you, you just dive in and don’t accept mediocrity when you go do those things.”


Fred Diamond: We’ve talked frequently on the Sales Game Changers Podcast about using video in the sales process. We’ve had video consultants, we’ve had sales trainers come on. I’m excited today because we’ve got John Simpson with Covideo, and we’ve got David Swift, who is the VP of Sales andmMarketing at Group Management Services, GMS. John’s company, Covideo, offers a solution which we’re going to be talking about, and I’m excited because David’s company is using Covideo in their various sales processes. We’re going to get deep here, sales and service I presume, and probably marketing, we’ll talk about that. We’re going to get deep into how GMS is using the technology from Covideo, but not just that, but also how they’re using video, some of the successes, some of the lessons that they’ve learned. I’m excited to get deep into that.

John, when your team reached out to suggest having you on the show, I said, “If John wants to bring on a customer who’s using it, who can talk about that,” they quickly responded with David and then how they’re using it, and went to your site, saw some of the case study examples, which were great. Tell us a little bit about Covideo, tell us what you do, and then I want to start talking to David about how they’re using the technology.

John Simpson: Covideo, we’ve been around since ‘04. We are a video communication tool. As you mentioned earlier, you’ve talked about video in the past from sales coaches and whatnot, but I’m excited today to be here with David, has been a long-time customer of ours. I was originally in the sales spot when I spoke to the team over at GMS, and it’s expanded throughout all their locations. What we do is we make a simple, easy way to send videos to your clients and prospects. It’s been around for quite some time, and it’s extremely effective. There’s a lot of places and things that you need to do in the sales process. Video is not a magic wand. You still have to pick up that phone and send those emails and do your research and make sure you’re doing everything. But it is a game changer, and I’m sure David will be talking to that today.

Fred Diamond: Tell us a little bit more about how people are using it, and we’ll get to David and the specific uses at GMS. But people use it via text, via email, via social media. What are some of the applications most commonly used by sales professionals of the Covideo technology?

John Simpson: Through all three of those platforms, when you have a client or prospect’s cell phone number, if you can text them, that’s great. It’s a simple, “Hey, this is John. Can I send you a quick video? I want to show you what we do.” Maybe they’re going to do a product demo, whether it’s on the computer, if they’re selling SaaS. Maybe they go through their services, maybe it’s a walk around of some luxury piece of furniture, or a car, or something like that. As far as email goes, it’s usually the second, third, or fourth touch that you’re doing that, “Hey, I just left you a voicemail. I just wanted to show you who I am and tell you a little bit about what we do and see if we might be able to help you.” Then the social media goes.

What I really like the best about this platform is within LinkedIn, you can send it directly as a message. If you’ve connected with somebody, maybe you’ve reached out to them and say, “Hey, here’s a 15-second video, hear me out and let’s see if it makes sense for us to jump on a phone call.” But as far as social media goes, if you’re posting and you’re wanting a lot of those views and clicks, you’re still going to do directly on that source.

Fred Diamond: David Swift, tell us a little bit about GMS. Tell us what you all do, and then we’re going to talk about the process that you went through to bring a solution in place.

David Swift: We’re what’s known as a professional employer organization, or PEO. At the end of the day, we help business owners sleep better at night, as I’ve always described it. What that ends up entailing is all their core functions for having employees. When you think of having a staff from going from one employee up to let’s just say 5, to 10, to 200, you end up having things you work with with business owners. You have payroll, you have benefits, you have worker’s comp, unemployment needs. Then you think of the life cycle of an employee, from hiring to really retiring. We’re managing that whole process for our small to midsize companies that work with GMS. Again, I think business owners sleep better at night.

Fred Diamond: Let’s start from the beginning. Covideo, first of all, is that the only video solution you’ve had in place? Tell us when you brought them in, and let’s talk a little bit about the process, the decision to bring in Covideo as the solution.

David Swift: To date, it is the only video solution that we have, and we did explore a couple others. Covideo came in the fold, probably about three years ago with GMS. As an organization, our owner, his name’s Mike Kahoe, he has always invested in the sales team with any form of technology. We don’t want to be behind the curve. We want to lead the group, or lead an organization from a sales group. He’s been willing to always invest in those ways. We met with Covideo. We were pretty much wowed, is what I would describe it, with the capabilities that they provided. Also, the simplicity. It’s one thing to have these technologies, but are they simple? They increase adoption. We found that to be the same when we went through the buying cycle with those guys.

Fred Diamond: Tell us about your sales organization. You’re in a very competitive space. I’m not going to mention some of your competitors, but we know who they are. It’s a tough space. You got to educate a lot of your customers too, of course, on the value of bringing on a PEO. How many sales professionals, or ballpark, are using the technology? And tell us also, is it just used for sales? Do you use it for other applications, customer service, vendor communications? How are you using the technology in addition to sales?

David Swift: The sales organization is about 220 sales reps and leaders. Across the organization, we have a total of over 600 employees here at GMS. This technology is used in a couple of other areas today, so we’ll utilize it with our implementation team. When we onboard a client, at that point, they’re going to have some engagement. Our client service team, they’ve seen the success that we’ve used with it, so then they want to get into the fold, and our benefits sales team as well will utilize this technology. So, yes.

Fred Diamond: How much training goes into play to have a sales professional feel comfortable? David, tell us how that worked at GMS. Then, John, from your perspective, do people pick up on this right away? Are people apprehensive? One reason why people haven’t used video most likely on social or communications is they’re just nervous about being on the camera. They just think they’ll come across not looking good. They’re going to say the wrong things. David, talk a little bit about the adoption. Is everybody on board? Was there a lot of training that was required? John, from your perspective as an industry best practice, how easy is it for people to adopt and why would people be resistant?

David Swift: I would say that it isn’t too hard to get up and going. It is just taking our LMS course that we’ve developed around this. It is some doing the job, because there’s a lot of different learning styles for people that they go through. After really a couple of sessions, meaning sessions, just a couple of attempts of sending them out, they’re pretty much off and running for the basic level of how to utilize it. Where the sales management team really aids them is the strategy. When do you utilize it? Some of that comes in later in the life cycle of the employee, but it’s pretty clear and pretty easy to get them going.

Overall adoption, it’s like the fire of anything. When someone gets fired up about something and they’re the change champion to it, they push it to the others, then it becomes a FOMO. Like, “Well, they’re using it.” Then someone else wants to use it. We utilize the tagline of, it doesn’t need to be perfection. It just needs to be done. The sale of it is it’s the human part of what we do. We’re selling outsourced HR, so making ourselves seem human to our prospects and then clients at that point, goes a long way. This allows us to do that through the video.

Fred Diamond: You used the word strategic usage of this. John, what advice does Covideo give to its customers about the strategic use? Is it like, instead of making a phone call every time, just pop a video? Is it best used at this part of the sales process? I’m curious, John, from your perspective as the vendor, and then also, David, from your perspective, what have you learned where it works and where it really may not be the best use of the deployment?

John Simpson: That’s a great question. To David’s point, when it does catch fire, that’s when it spreads. When people are successful, they want to know what they’re doing. As far as strategy goes, it really depends on the clientele. David and his team work with at least one, if not two of our account managers, Christie and Caitlin, who have been an integral part of their business. They understand their business, they’ve learned what they do in their competitive markets and where that comes in. We really create a game plan for them. From an outbound perspective, from an inbound nurturing perspective, all the way up to retention and things like that. We really sit down with our clients and get to know their business and help them out through that process.

A quick example would be, one of my first questions I say, “Do you guys make phone calls?” You’ll be surprised how many people say no. We’ll say, “Okay. Well, let’s start at where are your numbers at? Let’s start adding that in.” Because when you just send somebody a video and they aren’t expecting it, a prospect, they might be thrown off a little bit. Well, a lot of people don’t answer their phone, but everybody checks their voicemails, or at least they can see the text, they read it. “Hey, this is David. I’m with GMS. I’m going to send you a quick video showing you what we do. Keep an eye out for that in your inbox.” They’re aware it’s going to come, and then it eventually comes. Then David will get a notification when that gets opened, we’ll see how much of it they viewed, and then he’s got the opportunity to pick up the phone and call them right away. It gives you some good insight there. That’s one of the small strategies we share with our teams, but there’s a lot more that goes into it.

Fred Diamond: David, for you, where have you found that it’s really worked well? Where has the video really been an advantage to helping you? At the end of the day, you’re trying to get more sales and retain customers. Where has it really been successful that might have caught you by surprise, and then where has it really not worked? Let’s start with the good stuff. Where has it really kicked in where it just surpassed your expectations and it’s really been just a tool that’s been beyond your realm of expectation?

David Swift: I’ll give you the history of our sales org too. We’re a bunch of cold callers. Our sales reps are making 75 dials a day, and we know that we can be efficient with those things to get a certain percentage that will meet with us, and to introduce the concept of a professional employee organization to them. Where we’ve found it to be successful is when we’ve played a little bit of the phone game of leaving messages, leaving messages, and then we institute into that cadence, if you will, “Hey, let’s institute a Covideo.” Then it becomes, “Hey, I’m not just a cold caller. I’m a real human being,” that they see it. Again, it’s not much of the video, it’s very quick, but again, it tells us what we’re trying to achieve within that setting. That’s been where it’s really aided us in increasing appointments and activity for sales reps.

Where it’s also aided is when we’re in the sales process of the PEO. Where we’re in between things, everybody’s had the ghosting prospect, they’ve left you. We’re able to do now and institute, “Hey, there’s the video.” “Hey, I’ve missed you for a few times. Don’t forget about me.” Also just the collection of our data. There are things that we need to obtain from our prospects to quote. We’re able to even put into our Covideo of the items that need to gain so it helps us expedite the sales process, which again, that’s helped us a ton.

Fred Diamond: Has it become just a normal part of your process? Again, a lot of people are nervous, we found, about using video because they think they have to have the lighting correct, and they have to be dressed, and they have to be prepared, and scripted, and all those things. From your perspective, has it become just a normal thing? It’s like, “All right, we did three phone calls, we didn’t get through. I’m just going to click on the Covideo to get that and we have a higher level of confidence that that’ll get some type of response.” Then you go to lunch. Is it just a normal thing, or is it like, “Okay. At 12:52, I’m going to sit in front of my computer, going to make sure the lights are good, I’m going to make sure it’s quiet.” Talk a little bit about the actual part of that. Is it just normal thing or is it something that you have to process to make it work?

David Swift: We’ve really normalized it as part of our sales process, because we’ve bought in as a company. Even to when a new hire joins, they get the little whiteboard, they get a little, not sharpie, but ability to write on the thing that describes, “Hey, again, this is part of our sales cadence that we utilize this technology and we’re going to continue to utilize it.” We give that to all of our new hires so they get that taste of it right away.

There are some folks that are sales reps, they may have a little bit of a rhythm with it where they use it for their thank yous. They’ll be more, like what you’re describing, towards the end of the day, instead of doing the handwritten thank you or the email thank you, they’re now doing the video thank you. The cool part about that is it’s a differentiator, because not a lot of people are doing that in the sales process for items so that they get the even chance to reply back within the video. There’s been many times where we’ve had our sales reps tell us, “Hey, my prospect loved it.” They were touched that we had recapped the meeting to them and they were able to move forward in the quoting process and eventually a sales process.

Fred Diamond: How do you recommend that your sales team transmit the video? Is it usually via email or text, or how does that work? How do you recommend that your people transmit the videos?

David Swift: I would say 90% of them are just emails at this moment.

Fred Diamond: John, talk about some of the other surprises, some of the other value of using a solution like Covideo that a sales leader like David may discover that they didn’t expect. Maybe somebody just said, “You know what? We need to employ video because I see it all over the place,” or someone used it somewhere else. What might be some other benefits that come that they don’t understand or they don’t expect?

John Simpson: I think one of the things that David said earlier is taking the customer through that purchasing process. We want to make it easy on the consumer no matter what you’re selling. If you make it difficult, that’s when we lose interest. One thing that a lot of our customers really like to do is, I won’t get too technical, but we have calls to action clickable links. I think you have up to seven of those below your video. What you can actually do is add forms that they need to fill out, or guide them to where they need to go, and, “By the way, we missed this.” Things like that, it does tend to make the buying process easier. From an implementation standpoint, just probably surprised sometimes they don’t really think about that from a customer/client success standpoint. They don’t think of this, because we always start with sales no matter who our clients are. That’s usually who we start with. Then again, it flows like wildfires as people start seeing other benefits to it.

Fred Diamond: David, let’s talk about customers. Again, you said your people or your guys, your team, your salespeople, guys and girls, they’re making 75 dials a day. Talk about the response and the reception from customers. You implemented Covideo, you said about three years ago. Has it helped, has it increased your customer engagement? Do customers like getting videos from salespeople? Do any of them reach out and say, “I never want to hear from you again”? Talk a little bit about what the response is from your target and how that has helped improve the sales process.

David Swift: I’ll think about one of our success stories of our biggest clients that we have. It was a 150-employee manufacturing organization and we’ve called them multitude of times, played the phone tree to get to the right individual, owner or CFO at the organization, and did the right things of what we did in the cadence. When this was new, when we bought Covideo, we instituted it into the process at that time, and immediately the CFO gave a response back to the sales rep and said, “Wow, I’ve never had one of these done to me. When can you come see me?” If you think of the mindset of a CFO, of how they operate, it was pretty profound that this person was so excited about having a sales rep come into them to hear our parts of the business. If you called them today, they would tell you the reason why they met with us is because we utilized this technology to get us in the door.

Fred Diamond: Now, that’s a great point and excited CFO I guess is an oxymoron. I’m glad you were able to get through. John, do you want to comment on that?

John Simpson: I think that’s a great story, but one of the things that you have to give credit to is David and his team, of course, because at the end of the day, this got him in the door. But at the end of the day, his sales team still sold the product. You want more opportunities, to knock on more doors, but you still have to have a quality sales team and you still have to know the skills inside and out just like David’s team does.

Fred Diamond: We’re doing today’s interview in June of 2023. A lot of sales organizations are still challenged with the whole hybrid world. How often do we bring our people to the office? Do we require them to come to the office? Global sales organizations, et cetera. People are still working in a lot of cases from home, they may not be showing up in suit and tie, obviously in a lot of cases from home. Have you had to implement any standards? Meaning, you got to be shaved when you make a video, or ladies, you have to have makeup on, or your hair has to be right, or you have to have your background set. Have you had to implement any things like that over the course of the last couple of years?

David Swift: As a whole, no. We’re a sales organization that has always been in the office. We are dressed for success every day in our environment. There hasn’t been that many conversations, at least from our group, in regards to that. But we do find that it is, again, to be a natural to who you are. You don’t need to put on the extra stuff, just be who you are. That resonates the most with people.

Fred Diamond: John, where do people go wrong with using video? Do they talk too long? Do they say the wrong things? Do they accidentally say words that they shouldn’t have said? That could be the same thing too. Someone accidentally says the wrong thing and the customer takes it the wrong way. Even though you got through and they watched the video, that in theory could screw things up. Talk a little bit about where you’ve seen some people go wrong with video. Again, we’ve got people all over the world who are listening to today’s podcast, reading the transcripts, what might be some of your words of advice on ensuring that the use of video, in this case Covideo, will be successful?

John Simpson: Back to what David said. Be yourself. Be confident. Be honest. That’s really what it comes down to. Use it, use it for success. You’re using it to win. You’ve invested in these tools and other tools, and you’re listening to this podcast because you believe in yourself and you’re always looking to get better. Could it be too long? Who cares? Is it too short? Doesn’t matter. You’ll see that they watched it. You’re going to get notifications, and you’re just engaging. That’s all it really comes down to. We have best practices. 20 to 40 seconds if you’re trying to get their attention. But don’t make your pitch about your product. Make your pitch about why we can help you. It’s the same thing. “Hey, I’ve done my research, I’ve looked at your company. This is where we can possibly come in as a PEO firm and help you guys out. By the way, I’m just down the road just south of Cleveland. I’d love to swing by your office.” It’s just about being honest and being authentic.

Fred Diamond: David, last question before I ask you for your final thoughts. Has it been adopted by everybody? Of all 200 of your salespeople, has everyone adopted it? I’m sure there are some who are using it more than less, or some who have just said, “This just doesn’t work for me, boss. I ain’t going to use it.” Has it been pretty much across the board widely accepted by the entire sales organization?

David Swift: I think we have a small population, maybe less than 10%, that until they see the success themselves, they haven’t fully bought in on it. But as a whole, we feel really strong about it. Just to clarify one other point you mentioned earlier, I didn’t answer your question, about what were we surprised about a little bit of this system, and how it tied in. We’ve seen such victories in this from an internal use. Meaning even teaching of a technology, of a functionality within the organization, outbound recruiting, our recruiters have used it. Our sales managers recruit sales reps, our business development managers recruit business development reps, and they’re making that touch. It’s a separator. We’ve seen those successes both internally and externally in those manners. I want to make sure I clarified that for you.

Fred Diamond: John, before I ask you both for your final action steps for the sales professionals listening around the globe, is there anything else that we missed that you definitely want bring up that sales VPs like David who are listening to today’s show should know about implementing a video solution like this, how it will help them that we haven’t brought up today?

John Simpson: Again, I don’t want to get too technical. If people want to check us out, they know where to go. But as sales VPs, and as sales leaders, invest in your team, not only with your time, but also with your dollars. Marketing always has a very, very large budget to spend, spend, spend. Spend on your guys. Whether that’s Covideo, whether it’s other tools, invest in them and they will show results.

Fred Diamond: One thing we offer at the Institute for Excellence in Sales, we have our Premier Women in Sales Employer designation and our Premier Sales Employer designation. What always comes up is that the companies are equipping their sales professionals for success. Salespeople will decide, we found, to go work for companies that they see are investing in their success, they’re giving them the tools to be successful. Just want to applaud you both, David, on the implementation. Like I said, we’ve seen every tool, we’ve evaluated hundreds of tools that vendors want to provide to guys like you to help their sales organizations and a lot of them get looked at and then they get tried, and then just get shoved off to the curb. I encourage people to go to the Covideo site and look at what GMS is doing, the various examples.

As we end today’s show, I want to ask you both for your final action step. You’ve given us a lot of great ideas on how sales organizations can implement video for success. Give us your final thought, something the listeners should do right now after listening to the show or reading the transcript to take their sales career to the next level. David, why don’t you go first? Give us your bit of advice and action step that our listeners should do right now to take their sales career to the next level.

David Swift: As a whole, the sales career, everybody I’m sure has their foundation of how they need to build it. Spend time in execution. It comes down to, can you execute the plans in front of you? You don’t need to spend time in the areas to recreate the wheel as they say. There’s people who’ve been in front of you, you just dive in and don’t accept mediocrity when you go do those things. That’s what I would recommend to you.

Fred Diamond: John, bring us home. Give us a bit of advice salespeople should implement right now to take their sales career to the next level.

John Simpson: I’m going to go real simple here on two things. One, do what David’s team does and pick up that phone and dial 75 times a day. Don’t be afraid of the phone. Don’t be afraid of texting. Don’t be afraid of video. Don’t be afraid. You’re just a human trying to sell their stuff. The other thing I would say is something that I had an epiphany on recently, is don’t chase a title. Chase what you want your results to be. I’ve recently changed my title on LinkedIn to sales team guy. I don’t get solicited as much, but you know what? It’s a good thing because you get into that mindset. Now I know my day in and day out is just to be a part of the team. Those are my ideas. Pick up the phone, though. Pick up the phone.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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