By Steve McKenzie, Executive Vice President, Troposphere
The video conference sales call: after working hard to book a meeting with a new prospect, now it’s your time to shine. But how do you engage and impress your prospect when you won’t be meeting in person?
Our agency helps clients build more productive marketing and sales programs; one area of practice focuses on obtaining “first meetings” and successfully making the initial sales presentation. The pandemic required us to quickly pivot to virtual sales pitches – and the trend continues for first meetings via video conference in the hybrid workplace.
Through this evolution, we’ve developed 11 strategies for success – hopefully, these practices will help perfect your next pitch.
#1 Prepare the basics.
Whether in-person or via video conference, key essentials are the same: research the prospect, understand their business and develop your talking points. Be on time and dress professionally. Tangibly demonstrate how your product will benefit their company.
However, there are specifics innate to video conferencing. First and foremost, be proficient with the software platform you will be using to connect; fumbling through the mechanics gives an impression of being unprepared. Be sure your virtual backgrounds are appropriate (or consider not using them at all). Close all unnecessary programs on your computer, especially email and messaging applications so incoming message tones aren’t distracting. Have your presentation and all supporting documents open and ready to go.
#2 Control the crowd.
With an in-person meeting, assuming travel expenses, you’d likely only have one, or at most two colleagues join you for a first meeting. Just because video conferencing makes it easier to invite more people, don’t overwhelm your prospect with the entire team. Case in point: one sales director working in analytics limits the first meeting to just one additional team member, their top data scientist, to add both credibility and technical perspective.
#3 Bring energy to the meeting.
In traditional sales, the travel process itself often gets you motivated: reviewing the presentation on the plane, the sights of a new city, and a jolt of caffeine right before the meeting. Sales via video conference don’t necessarily have those built-in rituals, yet it’s equally important to be ready with your best sales self. Take a short walk, do deep breathing, channel Dwight in The Office and listen to Mötley Crüe – whatever gets you mentally prepared and energized.
#4 Know your camera.
One common issue – with an easy fix – is camera positioning. If you’re using a laptop to connect, your camera is likely below eye level (nicknamed the chin-cam.) Before the presentation starts, be sure to position your camera so you’re meeting the prospect face-to-face. And then be certain to maintain good eye contact throughout the video meeting.
#5 Have a conversation.
Let’s be honest: a 30-page sales deck would likely bore them in person. And that’s doubly true when it’s during a video presentation. One long-term client notes, “The sales deck has become less important in virtual meetings; it’s better to approach these first interactions as conversations. Technical details, journeys, financials, etc. still need visualization, but they are more supportive aids.”
#6 Bring your product to life.
Talking features and benefits can fall a little flat in the online sales call. A better tactic is storytelling. Align your message with the prospect’s “pain point.” Show how other clients utilize your product or service successfully. And when possible, quantify outcomes to prove your product is worth their time and investment.
#7 Break it up.
The average attention span for adults is estimated to be 12 – 15 minutes. To keep interested, change gears every so often. Show a brief product video. Include an interactive checklist. Or save a “wow” moment for later in your pitch: one business travel client delays their marquee customer spend analysis until the middle of the presentation, after providing upfront context.
#8 Use your tools.
Most video conferencing technology today also offers some level of annotation and whiteboarding. Make use of the tools available to highlight key points, illustrate a concept and interactively capture ideas. You don’t exactly need to be Jim Kramer at his display board, but it’s a good way to keep your prospects interested and take meeting notes at the same time.
#9 Read the room.
In-person, you’d be attuned to a variety of cues regarding your prospects’ level of engagement – e.g., are they looking at their phones and not your presentation? As best as the technology will allow, do the same while video conferencing. As needed, use simple techniques, like asking a question or sharing competitive insights, to re-engage.
#10 Use gestures and expressions.
Although they may need to be adjusted for the video pitch, body language reinforces your enthusiasm. Smile. Nod to show you are listening. Use subtle hand motions to further emphasize your message; in fact, research shows that gestures can increase the value of spoken messages by more than 50%.
#11 Build genuine rapport.
In many cases, the goal for the first meeting is to simply gain a second, more detailed meeting. Be attentive and listen carefully. Focus on providing a solution more than being a salesperson. And one advantage of the video meeting, if you have permission, is the ability to record the session to capture every detail.
First meeting via video offers an efficient opportunity for meeting new prospects. And, with a little fine-tuning, you can also make it a highly effective way to start new relationships as well.
‘User Experience is a series of articles designed to discuss the tips, tricks, and challenges that come with using AV technology
Steve McKenzie is an executive at Troposphere, an independent agency specializing in digital and direct marketing, email campaigns, public relations, and go-to-market planning. Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org