We may as well face it head-on: the virtual world is here to stay. Even as in-person activities and options have opened up, the virtual communications tools that we had to quickly adopt at the beginning of the pandemic are now readily available to us . . . forever.
We are finding that many companies prefer having more than one way to communicate and are frequently letting their customers decide how they want to interact. The good news is that flexibility (rather than “one size fits all”) can open up new doors, save time and even streamline previously clunky processes. Think of all the travel time to and from meetings that has now been freed up, for instance.
However, the actual selling process (unless you are an online retailer) can be difficult in a virtual situation because, for some businesses, successfully closing the sale has as much to do with intangible chemistry as it does with the actual product or service you are selling.
Additionally, today’s buyers tend to be more easily distracted and more likely to multi-task in a virtual environment. It is more difficult for the seller to gauge the amount of undivided attention on the part of the prospective buyer.
Prior to 2020, you may have found yourself in a conference room with 5-6 decision-makers to whom you’d be making your sales pitch. With everyone in the same room together (including possibly an “internal champion”), you could easily jump to the white board in order to help the prospect further visualize how your product works. An in-person environment also allows you to “read the temperature of the room” and adjust your pitch accordingly.
In virtual meetings, you’re limited to a very small box, and in many cases, your audience members have been staring at that same small box for much of their day. Zoom fatigue is real.
The key to positive engagement is to plan ahead and to arm yourself with the tools needed to make the virtual meeting collaborative, interactive and even fun! For instance:
- Always turn on the video.
- Share something interesting/informative on screen. Slides, stats and video can help augment your talking points.
- Use virtual white boards to collaborate, demonstrate ideas and take notes.
- Use “sticky notes” to capture points you want to come back to or emphasize.
- Practice in advance to be sure your technology enhancements work!
Also, remember that people pay attention to: (1) things they care about, and (2) things that are visually stimulating. Following are some tips along these lines:
- Incorporate some movement in both yourself and your content.
- Watch your facial expressions – don’t forget to make eye contact and smile!
- Use body language and hand gestures to emphasize important points.
- Be aware of timing to keep people engaged.
- Use more visuals and less text.
If you’re basically an “in-person person,” you may feel as if your main selling advantage has been removed, but hopefully, you can find your own unique ways to instill your personality into virtual meetings.