Updated: Dec 16, 2020
BY STEVE LESNEWICH VICE PRESIDENT, MEMBER SERVICES
Like it or not, the Zoom-type, virtual meeting is here to stay. Honestly, it’s not a bad thing. Zoom meetings are much more personal than an email, text, or even a phone call. And they have certainly cut travel expenses big time. Many customers will now choose a Zoom meeting over an in-person visit – not just because they’re safer, but because they are easy, less invasive, and typically much faster.
If we accept that Zoom meetings are here to stay, how do you, as a “Road Warrior Without Road” – or at least a road less traveled – set yourself apart in this virtual sea of virtual sales competition? The answer: Zoom 2.0.
Let’s be clear from the start. Zoom 2.0 is not about Zoom etiquette. We’ve all seen and read about proper Zoom etiquette. Even yours truly wrote a Road Warrior article on the topic. Zoom etiquette is just common sense – at least for most people. “Yikes!” at some of the things I’ve seen on Zoom! It’s simple: just dress, look, and act like you are ready to go on a sales call. Zoom etiquette is that easy.
What I’m talking about now is understanding this new media, adapting your sales techniques, and taking advantage of this new skill set. If you can do this, you will perform at a higher level than your competition, which gives you an edge they won’t have. Let’s face it: a customer buys from the salesperson he or she likes. Bill Graham, owner of Graham Corporate Communications, has spoken at many of our conferences and regional meetings, sharing his message that it’s all about “likeability.” In fact, likeability is a key part and one of the most popular components of our Manufacturing Technology Sales Fundamentals class. Think about it: how many customers do you know who have actually bought from someone they couldn’t stand? The only time that I can think of that even happening is when the price is so low, the customer has no choice but to be fiscally responsible to their business. Wow. Just think about how hard that repeat sale would be.
So let’s assume, as a successful or newly hired salesperson, that you are likeable. This means that during in-person meetings, you get along with your customers, they trust you, and they like working with you. As a successful salesperson, you are always prepared for an in-person meeting with your customer. The same holds true for a Zoom meeting – it, too, needs preparation to be successful. But it’s a very different kind of preparation.
Bill and I recently worked together on the two-part IMTS spark series, “Zoom Likeability…” Bill explained that a successful Zoom meeting is much more than just etiquette. And it’s not just about being a skilled presenter; there are critical technical components to consider. Bill explained four keys to a successful Zoom meeting:
Your face and voice matter. Treat your Zoom meeting the same as you would a customer visit. Start with the typical and proper Zoom etiquette regarding how you dress and how you are groomed. Smile. It’s ok to do so! Be open and sincere. Speak in a normal tone and volume. Keep away from the typical PowerPoint presentation voice, cadence, and tone. You want this to be just a conversation with just your customer – not a presentation to an audience of many. In short, be likeable!
Internet connection, lighting, and sound matter. Check your internet connection prior to your call. If it’s weak or inconsistent, run a line from your router to your computer. Lighting is very important. Have your main light just above your head at the minimum. If you can add fill light to reduce the shadows, it’s a big help. Whatever you do, please don’t look like the silhouette of a confidential informant from an FBI reality show. Make sure your mic doesn’t sound tinny and cheap. A lot of today’s laptop mics are of low quality. When using an external mic, double-check that your laptop mic is off. This will eliminate possible echoes.
Camera angles and backgrounds matter. Have your lens focus on the middle of your forehead. Too high, and we see just your forehead; too low, and we look up your nose. Trust me, no one wants to look up anyone’s nose. Frame your shot so that your head and chest are included. Don’t slouch. Sit up and square your shoulders like a newscaster. If your camera is too far away, your customer will think you have something to hide. Too close? Scary, and I don’t think we have to go there. Everyone needs some personal space, even on a Zoom call. Backgrounds: keep them simple and uncluttered. If you use a computer screen background, keep it low-key. Driving a power boat with the spray flying is way too distracting.
Most important: Your focus on the little white dot matters. Remember, the little white dot, the lens, is your best friend. Look at the lens when talking and listening. This, for me, is the hardest Zoom skill to master. We all have the tendency to look at the screen, which usually means you are not looking at your customer. And to your customer, it looks like you’re not making eye contact. I know it sounds wacky. Looking at the lens instead of your customer on the screen feels wrong. But trust me: what your customer sees is that you are making eye contact. And that’s what matters. This is a skill that you must master if you want to make a good connection with your customer. In sales, the very successful know that it’s the little things that matter to your customer, and it’s these little things that will give you an advantage over your competition.
Whether you like it or not, Zoom meetings are here to stay. To be really good at a Zoom meeting and create a lasting, positive impression on your customer, you must make the technology work for you. That and practice, practice, practice!