Zoom & Teams have quickly become the number one way we communicate with customers. Whether it’s the first meeting or maintaining an ongoing relationship, Zoom is an essential tool for salespeople in 2021. Whether it’s a in person meeting or on zoom it’s crucial for you to blitz that first meeting.
The following are some key tips and tricks to maintaining professional communications online. I reference Zoom a lot in this post, but the same principles and tips apply for other video conferencing applications such as Teams, Webex etc.
The first six tips are not strictly related to using Zoom. These are crucial “ticket of entry” things to do if you want to be playing on a level field when you rock up to your next sales call.
Tip #1 Desktop & Browser Hygiene
This may seem trivial but maintaining a clean desktop is essential for Zoom meetings if you are sharing your screen. There is nothing worse than accidentally sharing your screen when your desktop is a mess and your browser is filled with personal tabs that do not need to be shared.
Before hopping onto a zoom session, clean up your desktop and close all the irrelevant tabs. This is best practice in a hybrid working world where there is a blurring of personal and professional tasks in the home office.
Oh, and turn off those notifications. You don’t wan’t messages flashing up on your screen. For example, your sales engineer sending snarky messages about your customer. Yes, it can happen! Simplest thing to do is to set your computer to “Do not Disturb”.
Tip #2 Use a fresh browser window for your meeting
For example, in Chrome, select File / New Window to set up a fresh new window and set up a tab(s) as needed for the actual meeting.
It helps if ALL your exhibits and screens are within the one browser window. For example, you could have a Slide show as well as excel sheets in your Gsuite displayed in Chrome.
Tip #3 - Get the highest bandwidth internet connection possible
It’s super annoying when someone has crappy internet; they are constantly dropping out and the audio quality is garbage. You think to yourself that “it’s not their fault”. But let’s be honest, they get marked down for it.
The sales game is tough enough as it is without raising the bar with lousy internet. Sure, you can’t change the quality of the internet in your local area. But you can make sure you are connected on the highest bandwidth plan available in your area. Then ask your employer to pay for it.
Any sales manager that refuses to pay for the best internet for their salespeople is a bum!
Tip #4 - Know how to tether to your phone
Regardless of internet quality – outages can happen. Again, as the salesperson – your prospective customer isn’t going to give you any sympathy. Make sure you are ready to use your phone as a backup in case there is an outage in your area.
Tip #5 - Lobby for the latest hardware
You shouldn’t be using a computer that was purchased before 2020.
Sure, an iMac from 2018 is fine for video conferencing. But in a remote working world, you should be aiming for the very best experience possible. The video resolution on the new model iMac is insanely good. The cost of a new computer is around $2,000. It’s a trivial cost in the world of remote sales and hybrid selling when you consider how integral your computer hardware is to your work environment and productivity.
I haven’t used a PC for a long time – but I’d expect the same advances in video quality are ramping up on the PC font.
Tip #6 - Don’t use a laptop - literally.
Working with a computer on your lap is bad ergonomics. It also makes for very poor optics on a sales call. Just don’t do it.
A best practice is to have a desktop on your desk so that the camera is at your eye level. Since COVID, I have moved to owning an iMac for the desktop and a Macbook pro for when I am outside the office – pretty rare these days, unfortunately.
I notice a lot of people will have a laptop connected to a monitor on their desk. This is better than using a laptop only – but it can give the impression that you are not paying attention on the call. Again, these appear to be relatively minor points – but the main game for sales people is that you need to be giving yourself every possible opportunity in the remote selling world. There’s no need and there’s no excuse for starting from a behind position.
Tip #7 - Make sure your audio is right
To prepare for your zoom meeting the following settings will ensure that you are sounding your best as well as avoiding any mishaps in the meeting
- Open your settings in the Zoom client
- Test your speaker and microphone and use the “suppress background noise” feature. You could also use an external microphone that blocks out background noise.
- Using a headset or “over the ear” headphones will also help block out any excess noise
Tip #8 Have a purposeful background (real or imagined)
Consider using a virtual background. This doesn’t have to be studio quality but using a stock office image or an inbuilt zoom background such as the blur filter will help make your online space look professional.
Personalise this to your own brand by adding a logo to an office stock image. Many people also use this as an opportunity to show off a glimpse of their personality. It might be a photo or one of your favourite locations.
If you’re using your own space as a real background, think about how it’ll come across. This gives you an opportunity to put yourself forward in the best light. Consider how people will be seeing it – they will make judgments on what they can see in the background.
Another good idea I have seen is to have a branded pull up banner in the background to add a corporate look to your personal backdrop.
So, now that you are ready to rumble like a sales pro on Zoom…. here’s some tips on using Zoom during the meeting.
Tip #9 Start with your courtesies and housekeeping
As a starting principle for sales, consider a Zoom meeting as “virtually” the same as an in-person meeting. Things can be awkward at the start when you have people late to the meeting. You should try to engage your guests as you would if you were in their boardroom waiting for a couple of stragglers to start the meeting.
Naturally, you wouldn’t rock up to an in-person meeting wearing a balaclava – so you should always have your video ON for meetings. Obviously, but amazing how often this isn’t the case.
Finally, you should kick off with some housekeeping matters on how you would like to run the meeting including points such as using the mute button, recordings and using chat as per tips #10, #11 and #15.
Tip #10 Use the Mute button properly
If you are the star of the show, there will be long periods in the meeting where you are talking and you will have the mute button turned off.
For all other times, you should place yourself on mute. Using your mute button will not only improve the quality of the call for everyone else but it will save you from the embarrassing moment when someone walks in talking, your phone rings, your dog barks or an alert goes off on your computer.
To avoid that awkward silence when talking on mute, be sure to use the space bar. Hold down the space bar to talk and you will be unmuted until you release the space bar.
Tip #11 Recording meetings
Recording your meeting is one of the big wins with remote selling. The feature gives you the ability to come back and review the meeting, take notes and perfect your online meeting or demo. It also gives you the opportunity to show new salespeople how you like your meetings to be conducted and see real conversations with real prospects.
It is very important that you let the other participants in the call know you are recording the meeting, and that they give permission for this to happen. Zoom will announce that you are recording if you are using their inbuilt feature. But it’s important to give the other participants a heads up.
Tip #12 Be very deliberate about how and when you share screen
Zoom allows you to select what tab or screen you want to share. Choosing the single application or window that is relevant to your presentation ensures that there are no embarrassing slip-ups in the middle of your presentation.
The only problem with this technique is that you can make the mistake of selecting another application later in the meeting forgetting that everyone is still looking at the previous window.
Also, remember screen sharing isn’t just for you. Ask your customer to walk you through their website or any issues they’re facing. The screen sharing feature gives you an opportunity to be interactive.
Once again, think of a Zoom meeting as a virtual version of a real meeting. Back in the old days pre covid, the best sales meetings involved interaction with the customer using paper, whiteboards etc. Zoom includes features that allow you to mimic this interactivity. Don’t fall into the trap of seeing Zoom as a one way tool to broadcast your sales message with some perfunctory two way communication.
Also, remember to turn off sharing when it is not needed. For example, you should turn off screen sharing at the conclusion of your presentation unless you purposefully want the audience to be looking at the last slide. It’s no different to an in-person presentation – there’s a time when you want everyone’s eyes on you! (or on the customer) That’s when you turn off screen sharing.
Tip #13 Learn how to use the Pause Button
Using the pause button is often overlooked. Next to the “stop sharing’ button is a ‘pause sharing’ option. It makes sure that whatever you have on your screen is frozen. This allows for you to pause your screen on the presentation and look something else up, get a document or check information from an email without everyone watching you hunt around your computer or see your own emails (a definite no no).
When you unpause your screen they’ll catch up with where you are. This is an ideal way to hide the various things you may have open on your screen while presenting a professional face to your audience.
The only trick with the Pause button is to remember you are paused!
Else, you might find yourself talking for a while to a new exhibit and not realising you are paused on an old one.
Tip #14 Immersive mode
Immersive mode is a new feature in zoom that allows you to add all meeting participants into one virtual background. This setting helps to stimulate the feeling of an in-person meeting. The feature can accommodate up to 25 people. Using this feature also gives a cohesive feeling to a sales meeting. Follow this link to learn how to set it up.
Tip #15 Use the chat feature
During a product demo or sales pitch to a group of stakeholders or decision-makers you may be wanting to provide quick answers to basic questions. Don’t waste time by having everyone unmute themselves.
Indicate at the start of the meeting that simple questions throughout the sales demo can be answered in the chatbox. This also keeps participants engaged throughout the call, giving them the ability to be a part of the conversation through the chatbox.
Ideally you will have a dedicated sales support person or people on your side who can monitor the chat box. They can also call out questions that are more complex and require you to comment in real time.
And look out for our new upcoming feature – SalesGRID in Zoom App
Think of remote selling as a virtual case of the real thing. Zoom and other applications are now so feature rich that you can mimick a lot of the characteristics of an in person meeting. Don’t be lazy and treat it as a teleconference with some video.
Finally, your prospective customers are not going to cut you slack if you have technical difficulties. Make sure you are doing everything right (tips 1-6) to set yourself up to shine.
If you have any of your own tips to share – we would love to hear from you! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org