As more and more people are working remotely, the use of virtual communication tools has skyrocketed. For example, Logitech reports that video conferencing has increased 880% over the past four years. Companies are using video conferencing for important tasks like selling, training, and recruitment.
Negotiations can be nerve-racking, and the awkwardness of video calls can make the process even more stressful. This article shares some practical tips from both in-person and online sales training to help avoid common pitfalls.
Make a great first expression
In sales, first impressions matter. Studies show that initial gut feelings can make or break a deal, and may even impact future discussions. One way to get your call off to a positive start is to show up on time and be ready for a vibrant discussion.
It’s also important to pay attention to what you wear. When on a video call at home, it’s easy to take a more casual approach. However, you’ll tend to make a better impression when you look polished and professional.
Also, research shows that what you wear can affect your performance. For instance, many recent studies reveal that formal wear can boost your confidence. Confident negotiations are more likely to achieve a successful outcome.
Test your equipment ahead of time
Video calls can experience issues like grainy visuals, muffled audio, and dropped connections. Those technical glitches can make it tough to communicate effectively, which can impact the outcome of your negotiations.
To avoid potential technical issues, install and test your equipment well before a scheduled call. Check your microphone for crisp audio and your camera for clear visuals. You may want to do a test run with a coworker or friend to be sure. Also, verify that your Internet connection is strong and stable.
Ensure that you test the software you’ll be using. Just because your camera and sound works well on MS Teams doesn’t mean that it’ll be as smooth sailing on Zoom, Webex, or BlueJeans.
Start with small talk
Top sales trainers often start their online programs with small talk. This isn’t because they’re nervous, but because a quick casual conversation can help build rapport. Building rapport can help to build trust, which is a key ingredient of a successful negotiation.
Small talk tends to be more effective when it’s genuine. So, approach the conversation like you’re talking with a friend. However, remember to keep the discussion professional. An inappropriate remark could ruin a sale before it even begins, so err on the side of caution and take your lead from the other side.
Minimize potential distractions
Distractions can be costly when you’re trying to make a deal. For one, you may miss critical information that you could use to increase the value of the deal. Also, when you’re not paying attention, others may feel disrespected and not want to engage further.
During a call, minimize distractions and interruptions by silencing notifications. Also, display the call in full-screen mode, so you’re not tempted to click on other tabs.
Your environment could also be a distraction to you and others. So, pay attention to what’s in your background as well as to what’s in your line of sight.
Practice active listing
Active listening skills can have a positive impact on negotiation outcomes, says top sales expert Brian Tracy. In his training sessions, Tracy explains that strong listening skills can help you distil the most crucial information, as well as build relationships and ease tensions.
Here are tips on how to be a better listener on video calls:
Make eye contact: Making eye contact with the person speaking shows that you are focused and paying attention. To make eye contact on a video call, focus on your camera lens, not on the image of the person speaking.
Use non-verbal cues: Actions like nodding, smiling, and leaning forward show that you’re paying attention.
Mute your audio when you’re not speaking: This helps to avoid background noise from disrupting the call.
Have a structure for the negotiation
Online and in-person sales training programs often recommend following a set structure during video calls. Video calls tend to be more draining than in-person meetings. One top reason for this fatigue, according to researchers at Stanford University, is that video calls often require more intense focus.
When sales professionals are fatigued, they may rush through the meeting and leave value on the table. The risk of losing control of the discussion may also be higher. Following a set structure can help you maintain control of the sale and steer toward securing better deals. A clear structure for the calls can also be a plus when the deal is complex or challenging.