With the majority of sales conversations now taking place virtually, time in front of our customers has never been more precious and we need to make sure we’re getting it right. Let’s be honest; it’s far easier for our customers to cancel or cut short virtual meetings if they feel they’re not getting value from them, than it would be if we were meeting face to face. So the time you have with them must be well spent.
One element that many sales people are unfamiliar with when it comes to virtual interactions, is sales presentations. Sales people need to understand how to build powerful virtual presentations that engage their audience and motivate them into action. Here are my top tips:
Before the Presentation
- Know your audience – Just because you’re not meeting your audience in person, does not mean you can get away with not knowing who will be ‘in the room’. Understanding who your key stakeholders are and what each of them wants should determine how you structure your presentation.
- Prepare and practice – Because a virtual conversation requires less commitment from your customer, your presentation must engage from the outset, inform and very clearly demonstrate the value you can bring. This takes preparation and practice. In fact, virtual presentations, arguably, take more preparation than face to face. You also need to practice using the technology. The more adept you are at using the technology platform, the greater your perceived credibility. Which leads me nicely to….
- Agree on the technology platform – Ahead of the meeting, ensure you have agreed upon which technology platform you will be using. If you can encourage your customer to download any required software ahead of the call, it will save time on the day (make it as easy as possible for your customer by sending them the link to download the software). You also need to check security restrictions, as some company’s IT departments restrict them from using certain pieces of software.
- Be clear on time – Before the call, clarify the time your customer has available and ensure your presentation fits into the allotted time, allowing extra for questions, etc. Then, just reiterate the time available at the start of your call, so you’re not caught off-guard by somebody leaving the meeting early.
- Create your virtual office environment – Whether or not you choose to use a backdrop on your virtual meetings, is dependent on both personal choice and the environment you’re working in. If the space you’re calling from looks professional and is free from background distractions, you may choose to stick with. If you’re calling from your bedroom, use a backdrop! Apply a bit of common sense and think about the image you’re trying to project. Turn off phones and notifications and, as far as possible, put measures in place that will prevent you from being disturbed by other members of your household. Whilst a t-shirt might be acceptable for a video call with a colleague, when speaking to your customers you should be dressed as you would be if you were heading for a face to face meeting – from the waist up, at least!
During the Presentation
- Position your opening hook – The effects of primacy and recency teach us that people are most likely to remember those things shared at the beginning and end of a presentation. A great opening hook is not only more likely to be remembered because it comes first, but has the ability to instantly engage and excite your audience.
- End with a bang! – And so it follows, that the effect of recency requires us to end with a bang. Leave your customers with something impactful, that they won’t forget.
- Tell a story – Virtual presentations do not afford you with the same level of attention you might automatically receive in a face to face environment – it’s far easier for your customers to be distracted and lose focus. To heighten engagement and drive emotional responses to your proposition, use storytelling to take your customer on their own ‘journey’.
For tips on how to turn your proposition into a story, see ‘Top 5 Storytelling Tips for Sales People‘.
- Get your audience to ‘do’ something – Asking your customers to actually do something, whether it be write something down, type a response to a question, or something else, it actively engages them in the process and makes them more likely to remember what you’re telling them and to respond positively. It also provides a natural break and helps to avoid just talking at your customer for the entirety.
- Don’t forget your enthusiasm – It is harder to convey energy and enthusiasm virtually. Think about body language and tone of voice, in particular. A monotone delivery is hardly likely to drive your customer into action, at least not in your favour, anyway. Be conscious that things like yawning are amplified in a virtual meeting and can make you look disinterested. If it’s an option for you, I’d highly recommend a stand-up desk. I use one for all my video calls and virtual training sessions and it helps to keep my energy levels up. Even when you’re sharing slides, if you have the option, ensure your audience can also see your face on video at the same time. Not only will it help to keep your energy level high, but it helps to strengthen the level of human interaction that can be somewhat weakened in a virtual environment.
- Avoid reading – One of the advantages of virtual presentations is that you can more easily take advantage of prompts and notes. However, do not fall into the trap of reading all, or even part, of your presentation. Your natural conversational tone will be instantly replaced by a more monotone one. If you don’t believe me, give it a try. Actually, I’d recommend this exercise anyway – record yourself delivering your presentation and try throwing in a bit of read text – you’ll hear the difference.
- Listen back – Recording your virtual meetings and presentations and watching them back (as uncomfortable as that may be) is the best way of identifying how and where your virtual interactions could be improved.
There are advantages to virtual customer meetings and presentations – most notably that less time on the road gives you more time with your customers and for often neglected activities, like prospecting. However, you cannot hide from the fact that you will have to work even harder to engage your customers and convey the value you can bring on virtual calls.
Our Virtual Presentations and Impact for Sales People training workshop is designed to help sales people accelerate their ability to deliver engaging, impactful sales presentations and project them selves in a way that inspires confidence, heightens credibility and drives commitment to action. Click here to read more, or contact us for more information.