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3 Tips to Make Your Virtual Sales Conversations More Interactive

Updated: Jan 8


Image by @Bleuxwolf

Does trying to get your prospects and customers engaged during virtual sales calls leave you feeling like you are having a conversation with yourself? Being cheery and upbeat on screen might not be enough to create the levels of interaction required for active and engaged evaluation of the current state. Without engagement, our well-meaning pitch or presentation may have little impact towards changing a buyer’s mindset.


Here are three best practices that you can deploy to increase the level of engagement and interaction during your customer and prospect virtual meetings.


1. Anchor the conversation with a clear purpose:


Every day, people are faced with countless bits of information while making decisions that range from simple tasks to the more complex. In order to process all this information our brains need to be able to organize it, understand it and act upon it. This process takes energy and focus. Our brains are fortunately designed with powerful hacks to do this in a way that is as efficient as possible. One technique our brain uses is the deployment of a powerful subconscious information filtering system that allows it to mentally focus its attention on that which it calculates to have value for us. This built-in selective processing mechanism provides the ability to concentrate and conserve our mental energy on what is most critical or perceived as immediate needs and requirements. Think of it as the brain’s evolutionary built-in on/off switch for processing information. For example, if I looked up a tree, my brain doesn’t need to process all the branches and leaves. But if there is something moving in the tree my brain should (hopefully) pick it up right away and evaluate this as food or danger (risk or reward) and then decide what interactions I will take.


That’s cool but what’s this got to do with selling?


During the first several minutes of any sales meeting your prospect is going through this exact same process in their head!!


They are subconsciously evaluating the relevance of the meeting that is about to happen. Once the initial rapport establishing phase is over (which is much shorter than we think it is) they’re mental focus turns to calculating the purpose of the meeting and if it has perceived value.


This moment of evaluation provides us with a great window of opportunity to anchor the purpose and a positive outcome of the meeting, by providing a common focal point for the interaction or conversation to follow. Your goal is to flip the “on” switch, that will allow for increased interaction in the conversation or discovery to follow.


If we leave them to fill in their own purpose and outcome then they may find one which will leave your discovery or solution presentation falling on an unengaged recipient.


Please note that this does not preclude the fact that the buyer has a preconceived bias towards the status quo but knowing the purpose of the conversation and a possible positive outcome for them should create a substantially increased level of interaction in the conversations to follow.


2. Establish a collaborative dialogue:


Once the participation switch is turned “on” you need to keep it active or it will turn itself back off.


Engaging your prospect or customer in the conversation will keep their mental focus from dissipating. Research has also shown that collaborative participation in the conversation is very important part of the buying process, as it will help to generate self-persuasion momentum.


Think of collaborative dialogue as a two-way communication, or conversation that goes back and forth, allowing evaluation on a topic of interest. In addition to facilitating self persuasion, doing this can ensure several important conditions for making our sales efforts more interactive:


· We are more likely to keep centred on our audience by knowing where they are coming from, not on what we think, and not just what we want to get across.


· We allow sufficient input from the prospect or client to adjust our vantage point and fine tune our questions or presentation delivery, based on their feedback and interest. Our goal should always be to listen as much or sometimes even more than we speak.


· We regularly check for understanding to confirm a shared meaning and that our audience is still with us. This is a very important part of collaborative communications to remain purposeful and increase our chances of achieving our targeted outcome.


· Improvement of recall of core message discussed - Good sales meetings should leave the customer with a reason to change or buy.


If you're driving your customer meeting, you may have to speak a lot. To keep your customers interactive, make sure your ask relevant and on topic questions. If more than a minute goes by where you haven't stopped talking, your customer may become bored and tune out.


3. Focus your message:


Have you ever listened to a talk show where a caller is trying to make seven points at once and their message (if there is one) becomes incoherent causing you to tune out and wait for the next caller?


A single theme or core message can generate a far deeper and interactive connection and conversation then multiple themed sale meetings. If you feel you are losing your audience, then keeping your conversation (or presentation) focused on one potential issue or topic of interest may help.


If buyers cannot extract a compelling reason to change from your message, they won’t bother to learn more. This becomes harder the more messages they have to remember and evaluate and the more mental processing that is required.


Don’t let your conversations or presentations drift aimlessly. One clear message or topic of interest is always better to drive interaction, consensus and change, than many scattered thoughts.


Summary:

Having the attention and focus of the buyer is not only important to good communication but is almost always necessary if a prospect is to seriously contemplate making a change from the status quo. We must work a little harder at this when we are virtual.


Evaluation of change needs active thinking. Seldom do people change their current perception unless required to. Make it easier for prospects and customers to evaluate your solution and collaboratively find a better way. As well intentioned as our pitch may be, if our message does not grab the buyer’s attention and stimulate mental interaction, we may quickly be left feeling like we are having a conversation with ourselves.

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