In recent years, the growth of digital marketing and digital tools to market products has been huge. Using video calls and video conferencing to ‘meet’ existing and potential clients has become an essential tool for many businesses. In 2019, the value of the video conferencing market passed $14 billion and is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of over 19% between 2020 and 2026.
Most of us have access to basic video calling apps such as WhatsApp and Viber. But 2020 has seen a massive surge in the use of more complex video conferencing software which can allow multi-participant involvement and other features. By ensuring that you have installed a system that is best suited to your company’s needs, you are also ensuring that your staff will be able to communicate with clients efficiently and to share relevant materials.
With the world of business becoming more global every day, knowing who to communicate with and having the ability to communicate with them efficiently becomes crucial to not only continuing to do business but to growing your customer base. We have the technology available. How do we use that technology to not only sustain sales but to gain new ones?
1. Making it Personal
Human contact has long been the foundation of a good sales relationship. Many clients will tell you that they forge close links with their sales representative and this relationship can last many years. Opting for contact through video calls doesn’t mean that existing relationships lose value, or that building new ones will be more difficult.
The great advantage of these systems is that not only can you video call or conference with several people but you can also share visual information with your sales target. Do you want to illustrate anything about your product? A screen share is an ideal solution for this. What is a screen share? It is an easy way to share charts, diagrams, photographs, and other information.
Unlike file sharing, you don’t need to check the file type works for the person opening it – they can see it exactly how you see it. It also allows for live changes to be made to charts and diagrams to illustrate any points or changes. If you’re pitching a software product, it’s a great way to show a demonstration.
During any video calls, keep that personal connection prominent. Address them by name, maintain attention on the screen, and provide personalized information when relevant. Think of your meeting or pitch as something more than a scripted presentation. Try and bear some of the following in mind:
- Before getting down to business, have an initial conversation. Ensure everyone present introduces themselves and identifies their roles. Ask how people are. That conversation can be a good foundation for a developing relationship.
- Stay focused throughout. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by anything during the call.
- Keep the tone of your voice friendly and polite throughout the call. Even if you disagree with something that is said, address that issue in a friendly manner. Alienating anyone – whether a customer or a colleague – does not look good.
- Maintain eye contact with anyone you address directly and keep your body language neutral at all times.
TOP TIP: If you are leading the presentation, try and ensure you know everyone taking part by name and role in the company.
2. Using Videos
As well as static information, screen sharing also allows you to use video marketing when having a virtual meeting with new or existing clients. Video marketing is a great tool for initial contacts (such as when generating leads by email), but also when taking your sales pitch to a new level or closing a sale.
Marketing videos may show how your product works or even parts of the manufacturing process. This content will allow the customer to feel closer to your business and to understand more of what to expect. Video improves customer experience, and can be an important part of establishing a personal relationship and boosting sales.
TOP TIP: Do a run-through of your planned pitch and ensure all software and planned videos are ready and working. Try to keep videos to a length that will engage the customer’s interest, and always make sure that the content is relevant.
3. Working Tech
It’s not only essential to ensure that all your pitch content is perfect but also that the technology is working and up to the task ahead. There is little point in preparing the perfect pitch then being let down by a poor mobile signal.
Consider getting a VoIP number. What is a VoIP number, you ask? It means ‘Voice over Internet Protocol’, and it’s a dedicated number that relies on a virtual internet connection, not a landline. For teams who work remotely, it’s a great way to ensure a consistent connection.
Alternatively, if you have a landline, but are having trouble using it for calls, you can easily transfer the number to a cell phone, which will make it easy to have video calls or CRM-connected calls without changing your number.
Just like you’d spend time obtaining verified email leads, ensure any numbers your clients need to dial are in service and can be connected to. There’s no point in wasting valuable time on trying to get into the meeting.
TOP TIP: If working remotely, check your connectivity by placing a short call to a co-worker or friend. Include any ‘add-ons’ in this check, including things such as screen sharing and video presentation. Don’t forget to check your camera and microphone too.
4. Location, Location, Location.
So you have the perfect communications system, a well-rehearsed and targeted pitch, a stable internet connection, and all the additional tools you need to close that sale. What could go wrong? There’s one very simple factor: location.
Holding a call or conference in an open office or a location with poor light and sound means that your client will struggle to hear everything you say or even to see you clearly. Since creating a personal connection is a vital part of establishing that sales-client relationship, you need to make sure they can engage with you fully.
This is applicable whether you are based in the office or at home. Try to ensure that your location meets most if not all of the following guidelines:
- Whatever space you are using, make sure that it is well- lit. Make sure that your face, and other participants’ faces, can be clearly seen.
- Eye contact is important and part of that is having your eyes level with the camera. Adjust camera and angles prior to the call to make sure this is achieved.
- Sound is important. Avoid distracting sounds such as chatter from a busy office, radios or TVs, or other background noise that may affect the call.
- Should you sit or stand? If there are multiple participants at both ends of the call, then having everyone sitting is probably preferable. If you are pitching or presenting on your own, many people recommend using a standing or elevated desk when making a call.
- In an office setting, you do not want co-workers coming into the space and interrupting the meeting. If at home, possible distractions could be children or pets entering the room.
- While you might not need to be as formal as you would in an office, you should always be well-dressed in a video call. Avoid pajamas, and aim for at least smart-casual attire.
No matter your business – whether you sell on Amazon or to global businesses – looking professional is a must.
TOP TIP: As with other factors, prior rehearsal can ensure a smooth sales call. Use co-workers, friends, or family members to check that you can be seen and heard easily when making a call.
5. Send Material In Advance
While you can share files during a meeting, it can be useful for clients or customers to have access to certain material in advance. This will be especially true when it comes to material that involves complicated facts and figures, or with content that you think they are likely to ask questions on.
You can choose various options to pre-send material to your customer. Video files, reports, and some figures can be sent by email. If you want them to have physical copies to review – for example, a contract that they may be ready to sign at the end of your pitch – you can choose to send by computer to fax.
The importance of pre-sharing content to be used is not only important for material that contains facts and figures but also for any video content. Your videos may contain material essential to discussion or decision making and allowing the client to preview them allows them to prepare questions and comments that may help the actual call proceed more efficiently.
And it doesn’t matter what sort of computers you use in the office (or at home if working from there) as you can choose between Windows-based systems or small business software for mac.
TOP TIP: When preparing and reviewing your pitch materials, identify those parts that you feel may lead to the customer asking further questions.
6. Prepare for the Expected and the Unexpected
Even with the best preparation and rehearsal, things can go wrong. Even when a presentation goes perfectly, unexpected questions and scenarios may arise. By anticipating this you can both save on the time needed for a replacement meeting and also impress your customer with that preparedness. Have written lists of the information contained in any tools such as videos so you can continue any presentation if something goes wrong with your video or other tools.
Source: RSArmstrong, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Be prepared for questions from the client that relate to your product, your business, and the sales and delivery process. Brainstorm ideas with other members of your team who may suggest different potential problems that the client may bring up and how you would solve them. This can include factors such as your return policy or structured payments.
TOP TIP: Making checklists of the primary information you will include in your pitch/presentation but also secondary information that the customer may request after your pitch will impress clients and help to close sales.
Tying it All Together
Virtual meetings and e-commerce are things that are here to stay. Having good interactive content and using it properly is your ideal starting point but it is worth investigating whether there are more specific techniques used in your particular business sector.
It is also worth looking at ideas on how to host the ideal video conference, especially if there are multiple participants. Learning from others can help to make your own experience smoother and (hopefully!) fault-free.
Richard Conn – RingCentral US
Richard Conn is the Senior Director, Search Marketing for RingCentral, a global leader in unified communications and VoiP Phone Service.
He is passionate about connecting businesses and customers and has experience working with Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Experian, Target, Nordstrom, Kayak, Hilton, and Kia.