By now we all know that traditional face to face practices do not necessarily translate to good online meeting practices. Clients behave differently online, and time passes more quickly, that's also not to mention the technical challenges that can disrupt your conversation.
Your ability to be present in the meeting and to listen attentively has never been more important to the success of your online engagements. Of course, any professional seller worth their salt knows that listening is vital, and if possible – it has become even more important than ever before, the consequences of multitasking during online meetings have become far more devastating.
Active listening. In face-to-face meetings, it was easier to zone out mentally only to find that we had missed important information and now needed to catch up by listening to someone else in the room's response or trying to catch cues from body language or facial expression changes.
However, in online meetings this is virtually impossible, the cues of body language are almost impossible to catch, as all you can see on the screen is the person’s face, so we need to look at finding other ways to read cues and pick up on things like someone contributing less to the discussion than before etc.
Building rapport is challenging online, we all know this. However, if your customer feels that they have not been heard or understood, it becomes impossible to build rapport. Truly listening, and listening to be able to not only answer, but also to understand the message behind what the customer is saying becomes an important skill to have in your online meeting artillery.
Listen using your eyes. Watch for the subtle cues that your customer wants to be heard, for example, someone who may begin to look like they are wanting to speak by leaning forward, or for someone that takes themselves on and off mute during the meeting might be indicating that they want to contribute.
Wait for a gap, and as soon as you are able, call on them by name and invite them to engage by saying something along the lines of “John, I saw that you took yourself off mute, did you have something that you would like to add?” which allows them an opportunity to then engage and share their point of view.
When you listen, try to make a note of the vocabulary that the customer uses, specific words or terminology, and make sure to incorporate those words or phrases back into your response. That way not only do you demonstrate as having listened to them, but also that you are speaking their ‘language’. This is possibly one of the best and easiest ways to build that much sought-after rapport with customers, whether current or potential.
Humans feel heard when they are seen. This is a fact that is inescapable, we all in some way or other need to be acknowledged and recognised to make us feel that our point was heard.
I have sat through so many Zoom meetings with people that refuse to switch their camera on, and it leaves me with a weird feeling afterwards, like, was what I shared actually heard by anyone, was anyone even there or was I just talking into a void?
So, pop on that lipstick and formal shirt, get that video on and get ready to listen to your clients and engage with them. Nod, smile, ask questions using their language and prepare to take the time required to build that all-important rapport and engagement.