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Want to Build Greater Rapport Virtually? Do This One Thing

Want to Build Greater Rapport Virtually? Do This One Thing

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Written by Erica Schultz
Chief Marketing Officer, RAIN Group

88% of sellers find developing relationships virtually challenging. It’s one of the biggest challenges sellers face today.

Many sellers lament that it’s just not the same as meeting someone face-to-face. They struggle to connect and build trust.

Fortunately, it’s possible to develop strong relationships even when you can't connect with buyers in person. 

One of the easiest ways?

Turn your video on!

That is, turn your video on if you want to succeed in the new world of virtual selling.

Make Video the Norm Rather Than the Exception

In your meeting invites, and in pre-meeting agendas, let all participants know your video will be on and give clear instructions for how they can turn theirs on.

When the meeting begins, keep your video on, even if your buyer’s is not. When you stay on video, eventually some people just turn themselves on, or join via video in subsequent meetings. If you leave your video off, you don’t give that possibility a chance.

Some people are either uncomfortable with video or haven’t become used to it as the norm. If you're in this group, it's time to step out of your comfort zone. Try sticking a mirror or a picture of someone you love behind your camera as a reminder to smile and remain conversational while your video is on. You can also turn your video on for lower pressure calls, such as with a trusted colleague, to get into the habit and become more relaxed on screen (this helps build rapport with them, too!). 

What Video Allows You to Do

When video is on, here’s what happens:

  • People see and like you! People make deeper connections with others when they can see them. Your job is building rapport. Seeing your face allows them to develop a greater connection.
  • Meetings become more personal. Authenticity is one of the 4 principles of rapport. It grows when people see you are a real human being. This is an important victory in virtual selling where everything, by definition, is more impersonal.
  • Greater trust is built. A recent Zoom survey found 82% of respondents said there was a greater sense of trust with video. Trust is essential for sales and turning your video on is an easy way to move the trust meter forward.
  • Mirroring. When you and the buyer both have your video on, you can more easily match buyer energy and body language. Mirroring is a way to build stronger connections and trust.
  • Monitor engagement. The same Zoom survey referenced above also found that 91% of users said there was greater engagement with video, leading to better understanding through nonverbal communication. On video you can see when buyers are zoning out, distracted, or looking at other screens. It gives you the opportunity to stop and check in to keep engagement high.

The Drawbacks of Video

There are also downsides of video you need to be aware of and attend to:

  • Your energy. Zoom fatigue is real. Do your best to spread calls out so you're not on back-to-back-to-back video calls. It can take a lot out of you so be sure to recharge in between. You can also use asynchronous (or pre-recorded) videos to maintain a face-to-face connection while cutting back on meetings. Vidyard offers 12 tips to combat Zoom fatigue
  • Mistakes are magnified. How often during a face-to-face meeting do you sit three feet from the other person and stare only at them for an hour? It doesn’t happen. There are other things going on in the room. Other people. Background noises. When you're on video, you can't hide. Any mistakes you make are magnified because all eyes are up close and on you.
  • Your background is your brand. Be conscious of your background. No one wants to see a pile of boxes, dirty dishes, your headboard, or anything else unprofessional. If you don't have a professional background, use a well-chosen, not-cliché digital one (with a green screen). Follow these tips for projecting a professional image online.
  • How you look. While yoga pants may be my go-to for work attire these days, if you’re on video, the athleisure look might not be the way to go. Show up in professional attire. Do your hair. Don’t slump in your chair. These are all commonsense things you’d do if you were attending a face-to-face sales meeting. You must do them on your virtual meetings as well.

Relationships matter in sales. It is true that building rapport virtually is more challenging than meeting face-to-face, but it’s not impossible. You can get started by simply turning your video on!

Download: Virtual Selling Skills & Challenges Report
Last Updated September 24, 2021

Topics: Sales Performance Improvement Virtual Selling