Meeting a potential new customer online is a daunting prospect for salespeople. All of the skills we have built up have been tailored and refined for the face to face environment. Being in the same room with someone allows us to really get their vibe, microscopically analyse their body language, clearly hear what they have to say and in turn, be heard by the customer. The online world negates almost all of those finely honed skills. In particular, given our usual tried, true and tested modus operandi has been vanquished, how do we build trust with people who don’t know us and can barely even see or hear us?
When we go to the reception area of a client’s office, the person we are meeting will come out and collect us and then we move to the meeting room or we may have already been shown into the meeting room by the reception staff. In both cases the first impression will be vital. If we are sitting nicely, behaving ourselves in reception and the client approaches us, we are very conscious that this first interaction has a strong bearing on how things will go. Producing a brilliant first impression is what separate the great salespeople from the rest of the punters.
The same applies when they enter the meeting room, where we have been sitting waiting for them to arrive. We look them in the eye and smile before we stand. When we do get up, we stand up straight and greet them. Things are a bit different today. Wearing a face mask puts all of the weight on your eyes, to convey that smile. When we are online we can dispense with the face mask, but we have another mask controlling us and that is the screen. The size of our face in a little box will vary depending on how many others are in the meeting and who is talking. There is also the issue of their face on screen is at least ten centimetres below our camera lens, so if we are looking at their face, it appears we are talking down to them the whole time. Also, how can we gauge their reaction to what we are saying, if we are looking at the camera lens, so that we appear to be talking directly to them?
Well we can’t see two things at once in this case, so we have to smile, talk to them through the medium of our camera lens, give up on absorbing their immediate reaction to our words and concentrate on what they say in reply and how they say it. If possible, we want a neutral background which is absolutely not fascinating at all and so won’t compete with us. The green screen backgrounds available today are pretty wonky, but may be better than the catastrophe of your home environment. We also need to make sure our face is well lit. Often, I see people attending webinars, looking like they are broadcasting from a dank dungeon, because they are hiding in the dark. Naturally we are dressed in our business battle dress, including trousers by the way, in case we have to get up. We have all seen hilarious clips of the casual bottom half, being revealed when people walked away from the camera.
Interaction online is tough. The audio systems seem designed to ensure we are often talking over each, other effectively cancelling out completely what was just offered up. Getting excited and jumping in while the client is talking, during a face to face meeting, is not the best either but in an online meeting, it is a very bad decision. We need to allow the client to finish what they are saying. We need to exhibit good listening skills. We have to make an extra effort to feed back what we heard because the audio is usually unreliable. We obviously have to be on time and we need to keep to time. Clients can still be living that meeting hell, which has now shifted online rather than when they were those meeting room nomads, wandering around the corridors from one meeting to the next. If we say we are going to do something, then we need to be delivering immediately, in order to establish that feeling of reliability and therefore trust.
If we are doing a good job, the buyer will be seeking our advice on what is possible. We are seen as potential business partners. We have to reinforce that idea by providing useful insights about the industry, the market and the competition. These pieces of analysis have to reflect a correct understanding of the client’s current situation, where they want to be and what is holding them back at the moment. This is crunch time, because this reveals whether you have been spending your Covid-19 time at home fruitfully or just watching Netflix. Normally we are pretty busy, so our study time is limited but this has been the opportunity to really gather data and information to help clients with their business. How have you been spending your time?
The ultimate objective is to become part of the client’s brain trust. We bring value to the relationship that they cannot generate from within. “Design in” in manufacturing is the sweet spot. You are incorporated into the product, before it is even launched. We want to ...
08/10/20 • 10 min
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