As I write this blog towards the end of March 2020 the world is closing down. People are working from home, and not meeting others, in order to protect themselves from the challenges of coronavirus. Yet if part of our role in business is selling, then we all know the value of building rapport. How do we do that when our sales meetings are suddenly with people in a different place, using video?
Selling over video, meeting virtually, is different, it’s not just a digital way to meet. We are more static, we’re focused on a screen and a camera, not a human being. The attention you pay shifts to different things. Most people I know report that it is more tiring.
So we need to think about what is needed in slightly different ways to help to keep the value of what we do and to ensure we protect our mental and physical health in tip-top condition.
In my experience, there needs to be a little bit more structure and preparation for meetings to keep them on track. Here are my tips for building sales rapport when you are working from home:
- If you are using zoom or other similar video technology it’s worth starting the technology early giving time for you to get used to the environment and set up your workplace to look professional.
- Better to have a few short meetings than one long one.
- Run the meeting with a structure, I use “P.O.S.T” to remind me of this. I confirm the (P)urpose, agree what the (O)utput will be, confirm the (S)tructure of the conversation and the (T)iming for it.
- Transparency builds trust, if something needs to be changed talk about it, involve others. explain what isn’t working, and seek ideas. We aren’t all in this together unless we are all fixing the holes in the boat as well as inspiring others with stories of its final destination.
- Make social calls as well as sales calls. Check-in with the person, rather than check up on the deal. Ask them the questions that you would ask them at the watercooler. Share your fears and concerns and tell them how you are finding the days and the work as well. They are feeling vulnerable, and that’s a feeling they need to know is shared.
- Whilst we should all stay business-like, be relaxed and humourous too, the more we can begin to enjoy a situation that none of us would ever choose the more your customer will welcome your calls.
- Recognise that decisions will be taken differently. Other decision-makers may not be available, or it may be easier to reach them. Understanding empathetically the changes others are feeling will encourage them to resonate with your approach.
These are different times, but there is a constant too. People buy from people, they always have and I suspect that they always will. Whatever else has changed, that hasn’t.