Some got, hopes and dreams, we got, ways and means,
The supreme dream team always up with the schemes.
Pras, “Ghetto Supastar”
I have to be upfront with you; I hate being on video. I am uncomfortable on video calls. I feel awkward on webinars. I really dislike even seeing myself in photos. As the great Jerry Springer once said, “Somebody once said I had a face for radio.”
One might say my fear of video is an occupational hazard. I am in a role at AWS where I have to do a lot of stuff that goes on video. With the pandemic shutting down travel and events, this has forced all talks and content to move to video. I cannot say I am enjoying this.
Despite my discomfort though, I have made peace with video. Resigned to the fact that video is going to forever be part of how we sell, market, and communicate, I decided it was important to at least make an attempt to upgrade my video skills and presence.
Let’s face it, how you look in the online world matters just as much as in real life. We might forgive the kids running in the background of your Zoom call or your spouse laughing loudly off camera at the exact wrong point during a sales pitch. We are not so forgiving if your video presence is a disaster.
Think I am wrong? One of the most popular Twitter accounts to emerge during the pandemic is Room Rater, an account dedicated to rating (and in some cases mocking) your video background. Now people are frantically switching up the wall art and bookshelves, buying plants, and fixing their lighting.
For those of us not well-known enough to be seen by critical eye of the Room Rater, we are still being judged. Every sales call we are on, every video email you send, every demo we present, our audience is making assumptions about us and our credibility.
A huge part of our success in sales comes down to establishing trust, credibility, and rapport. While the product needs to solve the customer problem at the right price point, given a number of comparable products to choose from, customers will choose to buy from the company they trust. This means how we present ourselves over video matters more than ever before.
How do you come across as credible and professional then over video? You need to bring your authentic self, upgrade your video setup, and be prepared. Let me dive deep in each one.
Being Your Authentic Self
I already shared about how to be more authentic in your professional life. This also should be reflected in your online presence, especially on LinkedIn. I do not believe you need to have a “personal brand”. You just need to have an online presence that represents who you are in a way that is professional, relevant, and current.
Upgrade Your Video Setup
The biggest distraction on video calls is poor audio. Second biggest distraction is bad video. Fortunately, you do not have to spend a lot to fix either of these or the other fixes I share below:
Use a wired headset for calls. Wireless sets might be fancy, but they also introduce interference and noise. The mic for your headset should be between 6 to 12 inches from your mouth for optimal clarity of your voice.
Buy a proper webcam. I use the Logitech C922 which does HD video and clips easily to a laptop. Any HD webcam however will work. You can use your laptop webcam, but be aware that the specs are likely not as good as a dedicated webcam and the positioning will not be ideal.
Position your webcam at eye level. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been looking up into nostrils and double chins. Avoid embarrassment and place your camera so that attendees are looking into your eyes.
Fix your room lighting. If the light is not strong enough, your video will look grainy. Get yourself a ring light and position it in front of you as you are on video. Also, never sit behind a window, outside daylight will drown you out and make you look like a dark shadow.
Find a plain wall or greenscreen. You want an uncluttered, distraction free background. A plain wall allows you to use virtual backgrounds, which work better against solid color backgrounds. If neither is an option, clean up your background to at least be more presentable.
Improve the acoustics of your room. Hard surfaces create echoes, so use carpeting, drapes, and wall hangings to dampen any bouncing sound waves. You can also buy cheap acoustic sound wedges to hang on the walls to minimize echoes.
This is a huge pet peeve of mine, salespeople that are not prepared for their meetings. This is table stakes people. No amount of good video and audio will recover a poorly prepared for meeting, much like wearing a nice suit does not cover over incompetence. There are four things you are preparing for any meeting:
The attendees – Do you know who is attending the meeting? What are their names, titles, and reporting lines? Are you facing friends or foes? What is their relation to the problem to solve? Research the list of attendees before the call. Also ask your sponsor on the prospect side to provide insight into the attendees and coach you on how best to engage.
The pitch / demo – This should be down cold. Practice, practice, practice. Do this on video and record yourself (Zoom has a handy way to record yourself). Also realize though that the practice is not just to give a flawless demo or presentation, but to also enable you to respond faster if you need to jump around the presentation to answer a question. Practice allows you to more easily change the script and think on your toes.
The talking points – What are your meeting goals? What are your prospect’s goals? Make sure you clearly articulate these goals by writing them down and having them in front of you during the meeting. It is easy to forget what you want to get across in a meeting, and writing it down ensures you do not forget to mention critical points.
The questions – What are the unknown unknowns? Prospects are rarely ever fully upfront about their situation. Have open-ended questions available to ask (preferably in the beginning of the meeting) so that you clarify goals, raise any issues, and uncover roadblocks early on. Write these down as well so you do not forget to ask these questions and get the answers you need.
If you bring your authentic-self, improve your video setup, and come prepared, you will have a solid meeting and a higher likelihood of moving the sale forward!
Mark Birch, Founder of the Enterprise Sales Forum
Since we are talking about selling over video, I asked my friend Rachel Shi of Vidyard to share a few thoughts about the power of video for sales professionals…
Did you know your buyers are receiving twice the emails they did pre-COVID? They’re also responding 30% of the time less based on HubSpot data. Since we can’t meet with buyers face to face, we must adapt to 100% virtual selling, or risk getting left behind.
Video selling isn’t new, but it’s certainly gained greater urgency this year. Going on camera can seem daunting, but it humanizes business conversations. People buy from people.
I’ve personally seen Vidyard videos achieve a significantly higher engagement rate than email or calling alone. It’s not only prospecting where video excels. Think about mini-demos, proposal walkthroughs, and customer testimonials. When you get video selling right, hitting sales goals and standing out in our new virtual world becomes a whole lot easier.
Rachel Shi, Senior Partner Manager, Vidyard
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