Many sales teams rose to the challenge of selling on video over the last few months. But let’s be honest, initially that bar was pretty low:
“Got a decent background? Camera on? Know your platform?”
But customers today are being bombarded with vendor video calls – a never-ending parade of missed connections, bad lighting, worse eye contact, extreme close-ups, and awkward pauses/talk overs. The result? Many sellers are losing deals they would have won months ago, simply because they do not have the specific skills required to connect with customers effectively on video.
The bar has been raised. Will your sales team make the cut?
These otherwise good sellers lack the virtual screen presence and know how required to project confidence, credibility and empathy on video – leaving the door wide open to competitors who do. So how do you ensure your team makes the cut?
Stop practicing on customers.
Providing sellers with the tools, technology and messaging to succeed virtually is table stakes. The sad truth is that most sellers are left on their own to figure out the finer art of how to communicate and connect successfully on video. In other words, they are practicing on customers. The most costly training you will ever purchase.
Speaking On-Camera is a Learned Skill
Many film actors who appear natural and compelling in front of the camera were confronted with the same struggles sellers are experiencing today. How do you speak convincingly and naturally on-camera in a way that connects you with your audience and makes an impact on them?
Most actors (myself included) take specialized on-camera training to learn virtual screen presence and the techniques necessary to win a role in film or television. Selling on video is no different. These same techniques can also help your team win a role in your customer’s business.
Here are a few of those techniques I teach sales teams from my Selling On-Camera Master Class:
1. Being “natural” on video (It’s not what you think it is )
“Just be natural!” is one of the well-meaning but ultimately bad pieces of advice about speaking on video being given to salespeople. Here’s why it’s flawed: Most people associate being natural with being comfortable and relaxed – and that state does NOT read well on-camera. When your salesperson is comfortable they tend to lean back, their energy drops, their voice becomes softer and flatter, and they are less expressive. So while your salesperson might indeed feel “comfortable,” to a customer this looks like a lack of interest or attention!
Being natural on camera is much more complex. There’s a certain amount of relaxation involved along with a positive tension. It really is your salesperson at their most engaged state – as if they are in the middle of a conversation about something they’re really passionate about. Once sellers know what this “natural” state looks and feels like for them – and how to achieve it on-demand – their virtual engagement with customers will soar.
2. Master eye contact
I think we can all agree that eye contact is abysmal on most video sales calls. One reason is the powerful temptation the salesperson feels to look at the customer’s image. Unfortunately, the customer’s image rarely lines up with the seller’s camera. So while your seller may feel like he’s being attentive and engaged, the customer feels like he’s being ignored! A total disconnect.
One of the first lessons an actor learns is how to make natural eye contact with someone on-camera – even when they can’t see the other person. Sellers also need to know how to make eye contact when the camera doesn’t line up with the customer’s image (or they don’t have their video on), as well as how to read body language without appearing shifty-eyed or distracted.
Like being natural on-camera, eye contact techniques on video are also counter-intuitive and require practice and reinforcement. But once your salespeople master them the payoff is huge: Customers feel as if they are engaging in an in-person conversation.
3. Setting the Stage
The importance of a salesperson setting a good virtual “stage” cannot be overstated. The stage is everything the customer sees, i.e., their background, clothing, lighting, even hair and makeup. Your customer forms a first impression of your salesperson, your company, and even your product or service based on this. What impression is your sales team making? Is it consistent? Does it vary by salesperson, by day, by customer? Is it appropriate? Does it pull attention away from their message or support it?
A consistent staging plan for virtual sellers can be difficult to achieve and monitor until seller’s understand the significance it plays in their results. Creating staging guidelines that take into consideration the company brand, as well as each individual seller’s brand and personal office space is vital.
4. Communicate emotion
Why turn on a camera in the first place if your face has nothing to say? You might as well send your customer to your website!
The beauty of selling on video is that it allows your salesperson to communicate emotions like passion about your product or empathy for your customer with their eyes, expression, and body language. This can strengthen your seller’s connection with a customer and reinforce their message.
Being authentically expressive on video is difficult for many salespeople, especially if they are uncomfortable on-camera anyway. Learning how to warm-up and make friends with the camera is a vital first step toward natural expression, along with self-awareness and intention.
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