There is no doubt about it, virtual meetings are part of the “new normal”.
I am a big advocate of the virtual sales meeting, as it is a highly efficient use of our time compared with the alternative. Nevertheless, I recently stumbled across a big downside of the virtual sales meeting, which I feel compelled to share with you.
I work with a number of different clients and am often asked to watch recordings of meetings when I wasn’t in attendance. This is a huge advantage of the recorded meeting, meaning we only have to have the conversation ONCE and those who could not make it, can simply catch up.
It was during one of these recorded meetings, where I observed the following behaviour:
The supplier had asked the client to expand on a point he was making. The answer was long and detailed. Part way through the client's explanation, the supplier's shared screen changed to the chat window where he was having a conversation with some colleagues. This stopped the client mid flow, and he asked "is that view intended for me?" The supplier, embarrassed, apologised and stopped the screen share immediately.
Some may argue this is a typical occurence in a virtual meeting.
Of course, it is, we are all human after all!
This seemingly innocent error could, however, have enormous repercussions in the supplier / client relationship and here is why:
Psychology 101 teaches us that we need to “build rapport” with our clients to earn trust so a buying relationship can develop.
One of the fundamentals of building that rapport is to show your opposite your utmost regard or appreciation, which positively influences their own subconscious self-esteem, which in turn gives them a more positive purchasing experience.
Mistakes like the above happen, but they subconsciously indicate to the client that they are not being listened to.
This has a negative effect on the client’s own self-esteem, telling their subconscious that the relationship is not as valuable to you, hence, making the building of rapport that bit more difficult.
“So what has all this got to do with recording a meeting?” I hear you ask…
When we record, we know we can come back and listen again, which removes our need to be in the moment and focus purely on the conversation we are having.
- Be INTENTIONAL and PRESENT when you are in your online meetings ESPECIALLY when they are being recorded.
- Switch off all possible distractions including phones, chat programs and email.
- Show ACTIVE listening by responding to the client with “uh huh” or nodding for example.
- Ask questions to dig deeper, for example “that’s an interesting point, can you explain that in some more detail?”
- Use SUMMARIES at the end of discussion topics to show you have listened and to check understanding.
How about you? How do you ensure you are PRESENT in your virtual meetings?
Mills, I., Ridley, M., Laker, B., and Chapman, T. (2018). The Salesperson’s Secret Code. LID Publishing Limited. Severn, Gloucester.
Psychology Today (2022) Locus of Control.
Rotter, J.B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs, (1), 1-28.