The in-person buying and selling experience usually goes something like this:
You show up to your buyer's office, where they greet you and offer you coffee. You accept, and walk together to the kitchen, discussing your trip in and how the day's going. You chat around the coffee pot for a few minutes about the local restaurant you visited last night. You walk to the conference room together, chatting about the scores from the big game last week.
During your meeting, you're able to gauge the buyer's interest and match their energy and intent. After your meeting, you head to lunch, where you chat about your plans for the upcoming weekend. By the time you're on your way home, you know your prospect's favorite sports teams, number of kids, food preferences, and you've built a solid foundation for your relationship and future conversations.
But none of these opportunities exist in the virtual world.
You have to manufacture them.
Below, we've listed 5 ways to influence and build relationships virtually when organic opportunities are more difficult to come by.
Turn Your Video On
People like to talk to people, not to faceless voices. Turn your video on for every call and encourage your buyers to do the same. Being able to see the other person gives important cues like body language, possible distractions, confusion, etc. Plus, a recent Zoom survey found 82% of respondents said there was a greater sense of trust with video. Just make sure you give your buyers a courtesy heads up that you'll be using video in your calendar invitation and invite them to join you.
Now that you have your video turned on, don't let it be a distraction. Bad quality video, lighting, sound, and backgrounds can all pull attention away from your conversation. You should have a high-quality webcam and mic, a suitable microphone (likely not the one built into your computer!), and purpose-built lighting to manage light changes in your space. And, perhaps most importantly, ensure you, and your background, are just as well kept as if you were meeting in person.
Create the Space
You're ready for the meeting! But remember: it's up to you to create the opportunities to connect and build rapport. In virtual meetings, once everyone is connected, people are inclined to dive right into the agenda. Resist this!
Have a few open-ended questions on-hand to create conversation and find common ground. And once the meeting starts, make sure you pause every few minutes to get the buyer's reaction, ask for questions, and get buyer engagement.
Rapport goes beyond engagement, though. People love to talk about themselves; the more questions you ask, the more opportunities you'll have to learn about your buyer, their perspective, and their goals. Which leads us to our next point...
Ask Strong Questions
Asking great questions is the crux of every sales meeting. Good questions help you, the seller, understand buyer needs, avoid pitfalls that can derail the sale, change buyer perception, and drive the sale forward.
Powerful follow-up questions allow you to dive deeper and demonstrate that you're listening and you want to know more. These types of questions help you suss out the details that will allow you to make the best recommendation, and we all know there's nothing more off-putting than a proposal that completely misses the mark.
Build your repertoire of revealing questions, and you'll build greater rapport.
Build a Solid Reputation Online
According to our Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research, 82% of buyers look up sellers on LinkedIn before replying to outreach efforts. This is your first stop in developing relationships with buyers: you can't get a seat at the table if your social profiles don't reflect well on you or your company.
In addition to ensuring your LinkedIn profile is squared away, ensure your other social profiles, such as Facebook and Instagram, have the correct privacy settings if they're not for professional use.
There are a lot of obstacles when it comes to developing relationships virtually. In fact, developing rapport is one of the top three virtual selling challenges uncovered in our research. But when you build rapport following these five tips, you'll be well on your way to creating opportunities that pave the way for stronger connections and lasting relationships.