Virtual business meetings have now already become a well-established new normal.
digital meetings pose a number of technical difficulties that meeting in person doesn’t – difficulties often beyond your control.
The global Covid-19 pandemic has effectively only accelerated the inevitable, as one of the major outcomes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution was always going to be an increase in meeting online, especially for business purposes. Virtual business meetings have now already become a well-established new normal. However, managing, facilitating and controlling Zoom meetings with (potential) clients, especially if you are in sales, can be a whole different ballgame altogether.
Even with the virtualization of client meetings, most of the well-known and established rules of conduct still apply, however. For example, preparation is still of paramount importance. But ultimately in sales meetings with clients it is especially essential to create a good first impression and engender memorable presence. Unfortunately, digital meetings pose a number of technical difficulties that meeting in person doesn’t – difficulties often beyond your control. This of course necessitates a unique set of management and facilitation skills relating to maintaining a professional virtual appearance, relating to clients and being concise yet also informative and engaging.
- Maintain a professional appearance
First and foremost, remember that when hosting or facilitating zoom meetings, you are acting as a brand representative, and open closets or stuff lying on the floor will do your prospects of sealing the deal no favours. Also, avoid any background noise. Whenever meeting from home, this is always a potential drawback. So be well-prepared and make sure others in your household realise the importance of the meeting so they can accommodate you accordingly.
This does not of course entail making your surroundings dull and boring. In addition to being neat, it also needs to be interesting. Depending on your product, you can put appropriate books or samples in your vicinity to show that you are comfortable and familiar with whatever you have to offer the clients.
Of equal importance to how your background appears, is your own appearance. Studies have repeatedly found that people with a smile on their face are instantly more attractive. Smiling naturally at exactly the right time during the meeting increases your likability instantly. To dress and groom the same way as you would when seeing a client in person goes without saying. In Zoom meetings, however, appearance pertains to not only how you look, but how you sound, so make sure you have a high-quality microphone so you sound as smooth as silk. This is especially important since, as a facilitator, you’d have to guide the discussion and communicate with clarity to all participants.
- Relating to Clients
One particular challenge associated with client zoom meetings, is establishing that crucial initial familiarity and association, which is much more difficult to manage virtually than in person. During virtual meetings that you’re facilitating, clients can easily feel isolated. Effectively relating to your clients might entail doing extra research as part of the preparation for the meeting, and also adapting your narrative when introducing yourself or incorporating an icebreaker. Tell a short story or mention something that will make them feel comfortable instantly, like “If you’ve been attending a whole bunch of Zoom meetings and webinars and find most of them are boring and bad, this is for you.” Then back that up with content and presentations that are nothing short of awesome.
Creating an environment in which clients feel comfortable to engage with you is of the utmost importance in terms of controlling the meeting and ensuring that it goes the way you want it to. When facilitating, it is important that you ensure that all voices are heard and that everyone is not only comfortable engaging but actually have the opportunity to do so. After all, clients who aren’t comfortable engaging during the meeting are highly unlikely to purchase your product.
- Being concise, yet informative and engaging
Finally, while presenting, maintain a balance between being as informative and being as concise and to the point of possible. Maintaining the interest and attention of clients during Zoom meetings may prove to be a bigger challenge than when meeting in person, so you really do need to go the extra mile to keep your audience engaged. Doing this would entail giving clients the opportunity to engage with your presentation or ask questions at regular intervals.
There are of course many other guidelines to consider when managing or facilitating Zoom meetings, but these three tips will go a long way to helping you, as a sales representative, have the most productive, smoothest and most enjoyable virtual client meetings.
Paul Russell is co-founder of Luxury Academy London, a multi-national training company with offices in London, Mumbai and Visakhapatnam. Luxury Academy London specialise exclusively in the luxury industry and deliver training in leadership, communication and business etiquette training for companies and private clients across the globe.
Prior to founding Luxury Academy London, Paul worked in senior leadership roles within luxury hospitality. A dynamic trainer and seminar leader, Paul has designed and taught courses, workshops and seminars worldwide on a wide variety of soft skills.