HOW TO BECOME A MORE EFFECTIVE VIRTUAL COMMUNICATOR
By Marty D. Blake, Chief Operating Officer, Optimé International Inc.
This is an amazing time we are living full of so many changes, adjustments, compromises and is truly a shared global experience. At no other time in my memory have we shared across borders, oceans and cultures the same concerns in such an immediate way. This came into fine focus this past week as I met virtually with clients, colleagues and business partners in Sao Paolo, Helsinki, Vancouver, Montreal, Dallas, Vienna, New York, Toronto, Ottawa, Melbourne and the list goes on, we all were having a similar experience….it is amazing. Each of us is likely adjusting to new ways of communicating with our clients and customers and that can cause some anxiety and uncertainty. So how can we all become more effective ‘virtual communicators’? Here are a few thoughts to incorporate into your practices going forward.
The first is empathy; great communicators and therefore high-performing salespeople score high on empathy as they truly care about their customers and it shows. In times of crisis being empathetic is even more important, being able to listen and understand the fears, desires and pain points of your customers at this time will help you be a better business partner. A key to this is that you cannot fake authenticity, you need to be yourself, you have fears as well and being able to expose your own will not make you vulnerable, in fact it will make you stronger. Remember we are all in this together.
Meet face to face….no I don’t mean ignore social distancing mandates – that is an all-important solution to us getting through this faster and together. I mean use video conferencing as much as possible. People feel more connected when they can see each other and tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, FaceTime and a multitude of others will allow you to communicate more seamlessly with your customers, colleagues and business partners. If you aren’t comfortable or are a newbie at using these tools then scour the web for some best practices from some reputable sources to help you become more comfortable and pay special attention to my next point!
Prepare your environment….many of you are working from places that were not originally planned to be workspaces, you are at home in a spare bedroom, at the dining room table, or a desk next to the sofa in the TV room and some of you are sharing this space with others who are also working or going to school. All said this can make for some strange and unexpected outcomes because we are now inviting our customers, colleagues and business partners into our homes, unexpectedly! Limit distractions around you be they visual or audible…check out this article for some tips.
Be focused…although across the board most industries have had a marked decrease in productivity and output over the last few weeks due to lack of demand for their products and services it doesn’t mean people are not busy. So even in this time where it may seem like each day just runs into the next you must respect people’s time. This is a great opportunity to hone your call planning, such an important skill for salespeople and people managers. Have an objective for your call as well as an agenda. This does not have to be overly formal to be effective.
Listen…I realize this goes hand in hand with empathy, but it cannot be stressed enough, listening is a top skill in business in normal times and is of even greater importance now. To be of help to your customers, your employees and your business partners you truly need to invest in the ability to hear what they are saying. It is very easy to be distracted by our own situation right now and with the lack of true face:face contact we can easily gloss over and miss really important pieces of information or queues. Listening with intent is a critical need to creating better conversations.
Check out www.optime.com to find more tools and tips to take your sales organization from good to outstanding.
Good luck and good selling!