How to Look Professional During an Online Sales Call

By Geoffrey James

Smile! You’re on TV! Software firms are increasingly using Webinar and Webcast technology for online sales calls. Not only do such sales calls cost far less than traveling to customer sites, they also provide the capability of giving a live software demonstration on the customer’s screen.

Many sales professionals are under the naïve impression that being on a Webcam is pretty much like sitting down in front of a live customer. Wrong assumption…. Online sales calls are more like television broadcasts, which means if you’re using this technology you can look like a clown if you’re not careful. This is especially true now that high-bandwidth Internet has increased the quality of Webcams so they are similar to the quality of the television broadcasts seen a few years ago.

Cameras, including Webcams, are proverbially unkind. In a Webcam environment, minor tics and habits that go completely unnoticed in real life become awkward and cartoonish. For example, if during a live sales call you have the habit of rocking slightly from side to side as you talk, the customer’s eye will simply follow you around and he or she will probably not even notice the movement. On a Webcam, though, the exact same movement, when framed by the outline of the screen, will make you look like a drunken sailor. Similarly, that $500 sport coat – the silk one with the oh-so-light checked pattern – may make you look rich and successful in person, but on Webcam the fabric is going to shimmer and shake like a 1970s Op Art exhibition.

So if you’re going to be make an online sales call, here are the rules:

  • Wear a blue or dark gray suit.
  • Wear a light blue (not white!) shirt and a red tie or scarf.
  • Empty your pockets of bulky items before going on Webcam.
  • Dust powder on your face to avoid looking sweaty or in need of a shave.
  • Don’t wear your photosensitive glasses or sunglasses.
  • Don’t scratch yourself, no matter how much or where it itches.
  • Keep your energy level high, but don’t make broad hand gestures.
  • Use facial expressions and voice inflections to communicate emotion.
  • Sit erect and lean slightly forward to look like you’re alert.
  • Don’t clasp and unclasp your hands; it makes you look worried.
  • Don’t play with pencils, water glasses, buttons or microphones.
  • Don’t drum your fingertips or tap your toes.
  • Don’t stare off camera; it makes you look shifty eyed.
  • Don’t close your eyes unless you want to look stoned.
  • Don’t swivel your chair like a little kid.

Got all that? The idea is to move the sale forward without making a fool of yourself. It really isn’t that difficult. Oh, yeah, there’s one last thing. After the online sales call is over, don’t flop back on your seat and say something such as: I hope those bozos got the message. The Webcam might still be running.