For many, the transition to virtual selling went something like this: one minute you were a basketball superstar with pretty good moves and a decent field goal percentage. Then you were thrust into a baseball game, handed a glove, and told to win. On a completely different field. Requiring a completely different skillset.
Where you may have succeeded in person before, buyers are now harder to connect with, more easily distracted, and more likely to multitask in a virtual environment.
In fact, 91% of sellers say "gaining a buyer's attention and keeping them engaged virtually" is challenging.
Here we share 4 ideas for keeping buyers engaged during virtual sales meetings.
4 Ways to Capture Buyer Attention
1. Use Available Tools
Prior to 2020, you would’ve found yourself in a conference room with 5-10 people. A few represent your sales team, including subject matter, technical, and industry experts. The rest are with the prospective client, including your internal champion and the decision makers.
With all of you in the room together, you could jump up to the white board at a moment’s notice, engage and collaborate, bounce ideas off your team, and remain fairly agile as you reacted to questions.
In virtual meetings, we’re limited to a very small box. And, in many cases, buyers have already been focused on this small box for much of their day. It’s also much easier for people to opt not to attend virtual meetings or even duck out early. Zoom fatigue is real.
You must be much more deliberate in how you show up, capture attention, and ignite engagement in virtual meetings.
The key here is to plan ahead. Arm yourself with the tools needed to make the meeting collaborative, interactive, and fun (yes, sales can be fun!). You can:
- Turn on video: Using video in virtual meetings helps create a personal connection, deepen relationships, and build trust.
- Share something on screen: From slides to stats to video, there are a number of supporting materials you can use to demonstrate your talking points.
- Collaborate with virtual white boards: Use virtual white boards to take notes, collaborate, demonstrate ideas, and more.
- Use digital sticky notes: Sticky notes can be used to list agenda points, as a way to remember to go back to questions/topics, or for something else entirely.
- Launch surveys and polls: Especially if you have several buyers in the virtual meeting, anonymous polls and surveys are a great way to get a pulse on what’s really happening at the organization.
The tools to increase engagement virtually are limited only by a seller’s imagination. If you feel intimidated by any of these, ask a colleague to help you practice.
Takeaway: Practice with and plan ahead to use available tools. Doing so on the fly increases the chances of tech issues, awkward silences, and poor buyer experiences.
2. Use Visuals
Adult attention spans are shrinking. Keep videos to less than 30 seconds. You must capture attention in the first 8 seconds of an email.
Most of us have heard these ideas in some form in the last several years.
But as Spencer Waldron, Director of Global Brand Communications at Prezi, pointed out in our recent webinar, most of us have also personally experienced this:
The truth is that people pay attention to 1) things they care about, and 2) things that are visually stimulating. Think along the lines of action movies, scrolling through social media, the opening ceremony at the Olympics, etc.
Your goal is to manufacture this in virtual sales meetings.
We cover the first point in the second half of this article. For now, let’s focus on visuals.
In virtual sales meetings, the easiest way to use visuals is by illustrating your talking points. But this isn't limited to the design-savvy. Spencer suggests considering:
- Movement: Incorporate movement in both yourself and your content (e.g., animation in PowerPoint or on-screen annotation)
- Face: Watch your facial expressions and don’t forget to smile
- Body: Use body language to signal interest (sitting up and forward) and use your hands to talk naturally
- Space: Use the available space in both your video and on your screen
- Timing: Frequent screen movement spikes dopamine and keeps people engaged
Most importantly, don’t overcomplicate it.
Takeaway: Keep things simple by stripping back text and increasing visuals and the frequency at which visuals move on screen to keep buyers engaged.
3. Use Templates
When selling in person, you’re typically sitting in a controlled environment with your buyer. You don’t have to worry about your internet connection, video and audio quality, the tidiness of your background, and more. You can keep a list of the questions you want to tackle at the ready in your head.
But when there are already so many things to focus on in a virtual meeting, it’s in your best interest to keep talking points, questions, slides to present, etc. at the ready in a pre-made template.
RAIN Group’s Buyer Change Blueprint, for instance, is easy to pop onto the screen and fill out live while you’re discussing each area with the buyer.
Even if you use a different template, the goal is to learn everything you need to create a differentiated solution. It’s even better if you can use a platform that allows the buyer to add their own ideas directly to the template. For example, you could share a list of common needs and have buyers put check marks and x’s next to their needs.
After the meeting, you can clean up any documents shared and send them to the buyer. It’s then easy for them to share with their team or to generate additional questions for your next conversation.
Takeaway: Use a template to ensure you capture all necessary information, collaborating when possible.
4. Use Collaboration
As noted earlier, people pay attention to things they care about. That’s where collaboration comes in. Seven out of 10 buyers are open to collaborating, yet only 34% of buyers say sellers are effective at it.
When sellers don’t collaborate, they diminish their opportunity to:
- Build rapport and relationships
- Discover and solve needs
- Inspire buyers with new ideas
- Change buyer perceptions
- Gain and maintain the engagement threshold
- Win more deals
As suggested in the previous point, one way to collaborate, drive attention, and maintain engagement is to use templates during needs discovery.
Think about it: In person, you’d be having a conversation, making eye contact, signaling with visual and verbal cues (nodding, making affirmative sounds, etc.), but now you’re limited to your little black box, listening to what your buyer is saying, and taking diligent notes on the notepad in front of you—while the buyer looks at the top of your head. In person, they’d know you’re taking notes. But in a virtual meeting, they have no idea what you’re doing.
Use this opportunity to collaborate. Open your template, Word doc, text pad, or virtual whiteboard, and write on the screen in real time so buyers:
- See what they’re sharing is being captured accurately
- Remain engaged by reading the screen and making sure how you describe what they’re saying captures what they mean and how they feel about it
- Collaborate, as you can go back and forth, addressing deeper questions and bringing new information to light
Takeaway: Be mindful of the buyer’s experience and look for ways to collaborate at all stages of the buying process.
If you’re looking for additional ways to capture attention and keep buyers engaged, watch my webinar with Spencer from Prezi, How to Capture Attention & Engage Buyers in Virtual Sales Meetings.
- How to keep buyers above the engagement threshold
- The 4 Virtual Selling Imperatives
- How to lead a thorough needs discovery with buyers online
- The 30+3 rule to maintain buyers’ attention
- 7 keys to effective use of graphics
- The 3 pillars of virtual presentations