Would you please look at me?! So much is left said, even when it is unsaid…


A recent survey conducted by Corporate Executive Board (CEB) shows that when B2B buyers were asked what caused them to repeat buy from an organization, 53 % of the reason that they buy and buy again is because of the sales experience.

Another current survey done by Sales Force showed that 50% of companies stopped buying from their supplier because their competitor provided a better experience. That is right, you read that correctly, they lost existing customers because a competitor offered a better sales experience.

That loss of customers, while entirely unnecessary, can be avoided by anyone who is willing to make the effort to provide a seamless sales experience, and with sales now being online and digital – the playing field is becoming even more level than it has been in recent years.

However, if we hope to excel in this area, we must first understand the challenges, and determine how we will respond to these challenges. Our response to these buying and selling challenges can be the differentiation that our customers are looking for, and what sets us apart.

A unique set of challenges

  1. There are altered dynamics - face to face interactions have always been the first prize in sales and is part of the reason why we would invest so much time, effort and money, sometimes even travelling great distances to meet with our customers. All of that is gone, and now we must figure out how to achieve similar connections using remote tools.
  2. People do not really want to be on camera, sellers and buyers alike. Whereas in the old world we would move heaven and earth to connect face to face, now we do not even want to click the button to turn our camera on.
  3. Time also seems to feel and operate differently online - meetings often start late, participants are distracted by other things going on around them, and sellers have to multi-task if they are to listen to their customer, manage technology, take notes and provide a clear and assistive solution.
  4. We cannot use our senses to their fullest potential, as we would in the old world. I can’t read your body language; I can’t see in your eyes if you have drifted off and I can’t hear if there is something else vying for your attention in your environment – and this is a certainly a challenge that we are all facing with our customer meetings right now.

My top 5 body language tips to make you more effective online

  1. Try not to swivel in your chair – it can be distracting and can also be construed as a sign of nerves. Put a bell on it if you must or use a chair that does not swivel for your meetings, just stay still, no jiggling, and no wiggling!
  2. Sit up straight to communicate your attention and presence, and lean in (slightly) when you want to demonstrate interest or show that you are engaging and involved in the conversation or the point that the client is making.
  3. Look directly at the camera – this is where you can make eye contact the best. Now, you don’t need to stare at the camera, but periodically keep glancing at the camera to connect more meaningfully, and of course when you are speaking look directly at it, so that it appears as if you are speaking directly to each person.
  4. Smile and look approachable – be careful that your facial expressions do not ‘give away that you are distracted’ opening your WhatsApp’s and messaging your partner about what to bring home for dinner. It is clear to see when someone is distracted, they frown or smile when it is not appropriate and this would be a very clear signal to your savvy customers that you are distracted from what is happening on the screen.
  5. Try not to touch your face, play with your hair, or pull your earlobes or any other distracting small habits that we can have. Do also try not to cover your mouth when speaking, as not only can this dull what you are saying but can also serve to make you look like you are mumbling or yawning.

Even though we are on camera, connecting through a thumbnail on a screen, your brain’s mirror neurons are still firing as they would in a real-life face to face meeting, and you can still strike rapport and resonance with your customers if you make take the time and make the effort.

It may take some practice, but your customers are worth it – and practising control and usage of your body language is a skill that will not only serve you in your online meetings but also in real life in the future, too.