Creating and Building Relationships Virtually
Virtual relationships, whether professional or personal, aren’t new. What is new are the expectations and the tools. Instead of in-person meetings, we are now expected to meet via Zoom, GoToMeeting, Facebook Live, etc. Technology is consistently providing us with more and better ways to connect.
We must now:
- Become comfortable with virtual relationships through platforms (social networking) as opposed to in person
- Transition from traditional to virtual relationship-building habits and platforms
- Learn and master the art and science of virtual relationship creation and development
- Have a strong grasp of our current strengths and weaknesses in relationship-building so we can better understand what we need to improve upon in virtual relationship-building
- Understand that the advent of pandemic(s) may greatly alter the willingness of prospects to meet person-to-person, thus changing the landscape of prospecting and selling forever
According to a Youth Incorporated article, “A virtual relationship literally means having a relationship with someone in the world that physically does not exist but is made to appear so by a software.”
Additionally, William Arruda, senior contributor at Forbes, says in an article, “The web has one big drawback: It’s harder to connect on a human level with people when they exist in two dimensions on your computer screen or mobile device. You need to work extra hard to make sure you’re interacting in a way that allows you to build genuine, meaningful relationships.” He continues, “People want to work with colleagues they know, like and trust. When building professional relationships with people online, consider the intersection of these three qualities: transparency, likability and credibility. Transparency lets people get to know you, while likability reflects their interest in you and credibility builds trust.”
These two segments lay the groundwork for our approach to help sales organizations succeed during an unprecedented time in our history — unprecedented in that our normal personal and professional everyday behaviors have changed radically. And maybe forever. Some social distancing will fade away, masks may or may not disappear and we will return to our restaurants, sporting events, airports and cruise ships.
But we have adopted different, warier and less intimate behaviors…
This shift in the way we conduct business may have changed permanently and we must change with it. We need to understand and adapt to this cataclysmic shift so that we may be successful in this volatile new environment.
Here are the key concepts, practices and skills that should be considered and employed as you move forward growing your sales.
- Prepare Yourself
- It will be easier for people to ignore you. It will take longer to connect.
- “Don’t look, act or sound like every other salesperson.”
- Develop a tenacious Will to Sell to be successful.
- Overcome any negative beliefs you have about virtual relationships: e.g. “I can’t sell virtually.”
- Whatever challenges you have in the normal course of selling, be prepared for those challenges to be magnified.
- You Must Have a Set of Best Practices for Connecting
- Have a checklist for each meeting.
- Rehearse prior to the meeting. Have any presentation pre-loaded and ready to show.
- Check that lighting, audio and video are all in good working condition.
- In advance, share your agenda.
- Be yourself, be vulnerable, be transparent. Don’t dominate the conversation to fill space. Ask questions and listen intently.
- Use virtual backgrounds if necessary.
- Dress appropriately for the meeting.
- Know what your competition is doing virtually. While you don’t necessarily have to compete, you should understand how your virtual room will be evaluated.
- Finish each meeting with a clear next step.
- Common Issues to Avoid:
- Unpleasant Camera Angle and Distance: Spend time to view how others will see you. Eliminate distractions and “nose shots.”
- Fumbling to find and load a source or presentation.
- Not finding a good tempo; find one that will hold audience attention.
- Any weakness you have in personal meetings will be magnified on camera. Your desire, commitment and outlook must be strong. Your Sales DNA must support building and selling relationships in a virtual model.
- Hone your sales process and approach. Because so much at the beginning of the sales cycle/buying cycle lays the groundwork for the proceeding steps, gaining trust and confidence while operating virtually might take longer. For example, you might have to do a better job with Proof of Concept. Or Qualifying might require different questions. Remember to Qualify for Budget and Decision-Making.