Given the effects of COVID-19, virtual communication may become the new normal in selling for a while, notes Julie Thomas, CEO of ValueSelling. Few reps may go into prospects’ offices – let alone gather 10 crucial prospect execs in boardrooms.
Even before the virus struck, many companies were moving to inside sales in call centers – and extensively using virtual techniques. As virus fears ease, the trend to virtual communication could continue because of its cost savings. And, the better reps get at it, the more prevalent it will become.
Virtual sales communication increasingly means video meetings or “telephone calls in which everyone expects a camera to be on these days,” Thomas notes. She says doing these contacts well requires “common sense, which is not always common practice.”
Here are eight things to keep in mind as you ramp up and continue your virtual meetings.
- Your Camera Sees a Lot: Pay attention to whatever is in your camera’s line of sight – keeping it clean and clear of clutter and conveying a professional atmosphere. Book shelves should be neat and orderly. Background pictures should be respectable. Some reps use Zoom’s virtual backgrounds.
- Place Your Camera Correctly: When you’re using a smartphone or tablet, make sure the camera is above or at eye level – and look into the camera, not at anything else. You don’t want the camera below you or far away if it is to present your face attractively to your meeting partner.
- Limit Distractions: If this is a group meeting, mute yourself when not talking – and try not to move around. “There are horror stories of a rep taking his phone along into the bathroom without turning the camera off,” Thomas notes. “Or having a spouse walking by.”
- Keep It Pleasant: Don’t eat or slurp drinks during calls – the sound can be annoying. And don’t forget the niceties when beginning a conversation. You can spend the first few minutes exchanging pleasantries, just as if you were meeting face-to-face.
- Stay Professional: “Have an agenda,” Thomas urges. “Sales communication is not just a howdy-doody, even if you have your PJ bottoms on.” Be prepared, on time, and professional – just as if you had driven 50 miles for the call.
- Tune Your Attitude: Remember that your face and gestures communicate over 90 percent of your message. Make sure the speed, tone, and volume of your voice reflect the message you want to send.
- Mind the Time: The length of virtual conversations should be determined by their objectives. If a talk will go on for long, arrange breaks. When Thomas does three hours of training, she always has one or two breaks. “Most people can’t do 90 minutes without a break.”
- Focus on the Task at Hand: Always avoid the temptation to multitask during a virtual meeting. Turn your phone off and silence alerts. “You don’t want Slack dinging on your PC,” Thomas notes.
In short, full attention, careful preparation, and control of appearances are the keys to successful virtual communication, just as in live meetings.
Julie Thomas is the CEO of ValueSelling. For more information go to https://www.valueselling.com.”