SalesTechStar Interview with Justin Swain, VP Strategic Partnerships at OpenReel
The future of SaaS solutions will center around videos feels Justin Swain, VP Strategic Partnerships at OpenReel. Justin takes us through his biggest sales (and salestech!) learnings and experiences in this quick chat while commenting on the impact of video in marketing and sales:
Hi Justin, we’d love to hear about your journey in sales through the years…tell us about your role at OpenReel?
I came to OpenReel with over fifteen years of experience in business development and enterprise sales, most recently working as Director of Sales at Giant Street, a dynamic marketing company. Now, as VP of Strategic Partnerships at OpenReel, I’m responsible for enterprise-level strategic partnerships and overall company growth.
OpenReel was originally founded as a video Marketing company working with medical professionals. We had to pivot for an extremely large project that had a short production timeline. We identified that this was a problem that would continue: video would evolve into a more crucial part of enterprises and media companies’ business plans — and the ability to flexibly and affordably creating scalable video without sacrificing quality would be essential. Remote video production eliminates the time-intensive constraints of traditional video shoots, making it easier to scale; utilizing technology, like phones and webcams, that people already own and have the capability to capture 4K/HD footage preserves flexibility, while introducing affordability.
A few years later and our innovation has proven itself as groundbreaking: video is now a day-to-day part of life, with every social platform focusing on video. That’s why it’s not shocking that, according to Wyzowl, 95% of viewers claim they retain a message better when obtained via video. Or why, according to Ragan Insider, 75% of employees are more likely to watch a video than read text.
We built a tool that empowers businesses to meet those demands. The OpenReel Remote Capture platform maintains 4K/HD quality by filming locally on a device, while removing the logistical and financial issues of a traditional shoot. No more worrying about aligning schedules or coordinating logistically with stakeholders. No traveling on-location with cumbersome equipment. No wondering if we got the right shot before overnighting storage devices, or trying to securely share large files on-line. OpenReel promotes scale, without expense or loss of quality.
During the pandemic, video teams weren’t able to travel to film content needed for broadcast segments, marketing campaigns, and internal comms. OpenReel removed uncertainty and unnecessary friction, offering global access in over 125 countries and production savings of up to 90% to ensure seamless content creation for distributed teams.
At the same time, we’ve all experienced Zoom fatigue during this past year. By offering pre-recorded video, OpenReel has reimagined onboarding and internal comms for enterprises, offering deeper flexibility for viewers and allowing them to soak in high-quality content at their own pace.
During the pandemic, it’s been exciting to see other companies catching onto the benefits of remote video creation. As we move towards a distributed, hybrid world, this technology is here to stay. I’m humbled to be part of the video production revolution and give creators the collaborative tools and flexibility needed to make inspiring content.
Take us through some of your biggest sales learnings from your time in tech: a few biggest moments that drove key sales learnings during the pandemic as well?
The pandemic has been a crazy time for developing a personal understanding with people at other companies. Because people were at home, I was seeing a window into people’s worlds on a human level, as they wrestled with these massive changes in their own personal way, integrating kids, pets, what have you into their work.
I have a background in production so these are my industry peers that I was reaching out to, knowing how the inability to be in-person was impacting their work. But the pandemic forced innovation and shined a huge light on what we had been doing at OpenReel for years. I was excited to share a pre-pandemic tool that could truly help them during this crisis and beyond.
The first thing I say to people in conversations now — whether it’s an enterprise or a small two-person team — is “How are you doing and what have you been doing and how can we make your future productions more efficient?”. The outreach simply became a peer-to-peer conversation and a transfer of knowledge. That is really what these conversations around innovation should be in the first place.
The technology doesn’t matter as much as the person sitting across from me and their needs at a turbulent time. I am helping them see how a piece of technology fits into their life, their organization, and the world around them. I am sensitive to the fact that OpenReel is a solution to help them navigate this crisis but also the new normal going forward. Our technology not only keeps them operational today, but will fundamentally change the way that companies create video going forward. We are the leader in this critical paradigm shift of video production. We figure out what people need in order to help them strive for their goals in the most efficient way possible, and then provide a solution that can help them in a scalable and sustainable way.
How do you feel today’s sales leaders need to revisit their sales processes and choice of salestech to empower their teams more while being remote?
In an increasingly distributed workforce, the key to success is often slowing down, evaluating, and then iterating on the processes that are in place. Often, we’re so used to our routines that we take them for granted, and we don’t challenge ourselves to take a critical look at how things are done and work to make them even better. Sales leaders should take time to review their sales processes and salestech, then talk to their teams about what is and isn’t working. Then they should simplify. The simpler, the better. If a tool or way of doing things isn’t serving the team anymore for whatever reason — whether it’s the business scaling, or the remote nature of today’s work, or even just that a process or tool is outdated — it’s important to dig in and consider solutions that further elevate the business and streamline processes. From there, it’s much easier to implement a new workflow or piece of technology that will solve the heart of the problem, rather than putting a bandaid on a deeper issue. This review cycle will keep businesses sharp and performing at their best, removing unnecessary friction along the way.
Can you talk about some of the top sales solutions over the years (sales technologies!) that have helped you drive better business outcomes? Also, closer home at OpenReel, a few top salestech tools that help drive business outcomes?
My approach to sales is focused around creating personalization and driving authentic conversations. That starts internally, before we ever speak with a customer. Especially today, as teams are more distributed and remote, sales and marketing alignment has never been more critical. Sales no longer lives in a bubble, but must be in total lockstep with Marketing, with Customer Success, and with Account Management. We are all on the same revenue team. The customer experience cannot be siloed into categories; by working together internally, we ensure a holistic, meaningful, engaging, and educational user experience at all stages of the funnel.
Obviously, as a video company, we understand the importance and efficacy of video. We also love using short, personalized, engaging videos in lieu of sales emails whenever possible, as well as sharing relevant customer testimonials and sample use case videos that are pertinent to the prospect’s business needs. Video is 100% more effective than a written paragraph, and this is where I’m seeing a lot of change and traction.
Additionally, we use Outreach, Drift, Salesforce, Hubspot, and Chili Piper because each enables us to create personalization at scale and reach an extended audience in a way that begins authentic conversations. These tools in our tech stack allow our team to put enough personalization in the message that the prospect can see that we are human, with a helpful solution.
I also love using LinkedIn to personalize 1:1 messaging for peer-to-peer conversations. Similarly to the tech tools, LinkedIn messages, when done right, enable you to develop a more meaningful connection with another human being working as hard as they can to do a great job at another company and humanize the conversation, rather than taking a more sales-first, self-serving approach. It’s always time well spent to speak with other peers in your industry who are experts at what they do. That exchange of information and ideas is critical when everyone is innovating at one hundred miles per hour in an increasingly distributed, digital world.
How according to you will the future of sales engagement in a digital buying world start evolving…to change the face of customer engagements as we see it today?
When it comes to the future of SaaS solutions, I believe we are at a major and lasting change point — and video lies at the crux of it. Customers crave creative and strategic conversations so they can understand how a solution plug gaps in their collaboration and content. At the same time, the human exchange you used to get — the old way of developing those strategic human connections — is just not going to happen moving forward. Going to an event, cold-calling, even knocking on doors: those were sales tactics that we are evolving from. New digital tools, where you can easily drop in a link to a video meeting, or chat, more easily fits into your day than trying to talk to 1000 people at an event.
We can’t go backwards; we have to go forwards and continue on the path to efficiency. Just as we stopped sending messengers to deliver contracts, opting instead for DocuSign, communicating via asynchronous video is the key to maintaining productizing, while also forging authentic connections. Companies who realize and adopt this mindset will continue to be the winners in our business ecosystem.
A few thoughts on what you feel today’s sales leaders need to do to motivate, train and uplift their teams to optimize business and sales performance, and the sales technologies you feel sales teams should have more of (implementation / better training) to drive goals (for instance, clean data in the CRM, call dialers, etc)?
Teams can no longer exist in a bubble. A healthy company has Account Managers providing clear and informative client information to Customer Success Specialists; Marketers are creating dynamic brand assets for Business Development Representatives and building campaigns around Product Managers new innovations. We are all part of the same company, and ensuring interdependence and clear communication is essential for both team and brand successes. Establishing workflows and building teams to foster transparency, accountability, and empathy for teammates prevents individuals or teams from working in a silo.
To set individuals up for success, they must be trained from even before their first day. Strong onboarding focused on the company’s history, its value-add, the separate teams and their purposes, even just the general ins and outs of where to find brand assets, creates a solid foundation for new hires to execute on their goals. That is also the starting point for continuous learning & development programs, which foster growth, excitement, and curiosity within individuals and teams.
Additionally, by investing in the top-of-the-line enterprise technology and tools, even before they are needed, we are future-proofing ourselves, as new hires can learn and grow into the solutions, increasing performance and productivity, in order to scale more efficiently. We are constantly leveling up our tech stack, but Chorus.ai and Drift are two important solutions we have deployed in the last year. Both enable our revenue teams to be hyper-focused on the customer by allowing teams to capture critical information.
OpenReel™ is a leading Remote Video Creatio platform that empowers enterprises, consumer brands, media companies, and agencies
Justin Swain is the VP of Strategic Accounts at OpenReel and is responsible for enterprise-level strategic partnerships and company growth. He comes to OpenReel with over 15 years of enterprise sales and business development experience. Prior to OpenReel Justin ran business development for GiantStreet where he formed partnerships with Dow Jones and grew company revenue by 75% in just over 6 months.