We’re constantly providing sales tips to our sales training colleagues in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto. We’re happy to pass many of them on to our blog readers. Here’s one of the most important. Face to face meetings are always the best way to establish strong relationships with buyers. Shaking your buyer’s hand and attaching a face to his or her voice always makes a difference no matter how many years you’ve known them. What do you do when distance doesn’t make that possible? Web conferencing is a great solution.
Most of our sales training is done remotely across Canada. Living on Vancouver Island, we serve a client base that extends to most major Canadian cities. While Group Sales Training often is done on-site, our sales coaching is exclusively done via web conferencing. In fact, many of our clients see the benefit of this and soon adopt this form of technology in their own customer relationship management.
The Benefits of Web Conferencing
- Web-conferencing has come a long way in the past few years. With the technological advances made, it’s almost as good as being in your client’s office across from their desk. High definition video and audio options can make web sessions a pleasure. You can take your buyer through a presentation, share your screen with them and even make them the presenter to have all same privileges applied in reverse.
- Based on which platform and options you select, you can invite groups of people and even have them join the session via laptop, tablet or cell phone providing they have a high-speed internet connection. While you should be aware that data charges may apply via cell, asking someone to use headphones in a quiet area offering free wi-fi is a good solution.
- Some plans even offer the option to record the meeting. Keep in mind that the audio will be recorded with any screen sharing done. The actual images of everyone’s faces is a feature that I’m sure is being worked on.
Convenience and Practicality
- These benefits are obvious. Not only can you now see your client, you are able to have a meaningful conversation with them and observe their facial expressions and body language. Consider that this form of communication comes with a view from the shoulders up with an occasional hand gesture that’s thrown in for emphasis.
- Web-conferencing means that you will drastically reduce your amount of time spent in cars, taxis, subways, airports, hotels, traffic jams, parking lots and on your cellular phone using navigation to find your client’s office. While you may elect to take the occasion trip to meet your client in person, no longer will you have to be the road warrior of days gone by where a Salesperson’s success required such extensive travel. You’ll be able to see your family more and be at important events instead of having to explain your absence to your kids.
- Once everyone is accustomed to this form of meeting, there will be very little difference than being in front of them. Admittedly, tech-friendly people adapt quicker, however, once you do a brief tutorial for your clients and explain how to use the technology associated, even the most reluctant buyers will adjust eventually. In fact, I often opt for a web-conference over a phone call when trying to provide a detailed explanation or when I think it’s important to see my client’s reaction to what I’m saying.
- Make it easy for buyers who might be reluctant to web-conference by giving them a step by step tutorial in advance. Take a picture of the web session menu when connecting online and attach it to your instructions. Encourage them that it’s easy to use and the benefits are worth it. Know that you’re helping your buyers embrace technology and stay current.
- This is the biggest benefit to web conferencing. While there are some free services, be aware that you get what you pay for. Professional Salespeople should choose a provider that gives them the best experience with their client. This is not an area to cut corners. Considering that business travel can cost thousands of dollars per year, choose wisely with a supplier that has the tools, resources and customer support to assist you in making great impressions.
- Many plans start for less than $30 per month depending on your needs. As Sales Trainers conducting over 200 web-conferences per year with several people per session, we pay about $50 per month Canadian.
- Please be aware that there is no one perfect provider. In a web-conferencing, you’re leveraging several tools together in one stream of communication. This includes the internet connection for you and your guests, the devices and technology being used by everyone participating and the software of your supplier. Get the best high-speed internet and the right tools required to accomplish your goals. Even then, you will occasionally experience the web session from hell where everything goes wrong. Try to keep your cool and work through the challenges.
- Make a list of your needs before investigating suppliers. What will you specifically be doing with your clients? A simple conversation is one thing. Sharing a content rich PowerPoint presentation is another. How many guests will you have in a web conference? Do you need to record the meeting?
- Consider emailing participants attachments in advance versus using screen sharing to view them online. Screen sharing with multi-users can slow down the timing of the session resulting in lag time between video and audio which can be frustrating. Sometimes it/s easier and more effective to have everyone go through your presentation on their desktop by simply minimizing the web-conference while still listening to everyone online. Printing the presentation and following along avoids all potential issues.
- Consider having everyone call in on the provided phone number for the audio of the web-conference. Just like a conference call, you’ll be connected via landline or cellular phone versus using the VoIP (voice over internet protocol). Using the internet provides a much clearer signal and sound, however, it can be subject to lag time as well. While frustrating, video lag time can be dealt with. Audio lag time or poor reception is a much different story. It can also result in you being off your game to make the best presentation possible.
- Buy the proper equipment based on your web-conferencing strategy. The same factors apply when considering suppliers. Consider the amount of web-conferencing you plan to do, content you’d like to share and number of participants you plan to schedule. As Sales Trainers using an online format, we have sophisticated needs.
- Dual screens make PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets much easier to work with. They allow us to maintain eye contact with participants on one screen while going through a shared document on another. A high-quality webcam with 1080-pixel capability, webcasting microphone for voice clarity, proper lighting, quality audio speaker as well as conference phone for calling in give us the tools to be professional. Keep in mind, multi-components mean you will have to use a self-powered docking station to have the power and USB capability to ensure you can route everything required. Most Salespeople could do great web conferencing with their clients with a quality laptop and riser, a good headset or headphones and land line with speakerphone capabilities.
- As the host, always start the session early. Salespeople should be online well in advance of clients to be able to work out any challenges that might come up with new users. Starting 10 minutes early also means that you will be able to solve any challenges you may be having with a faulty connection or hardware issue.
- Be aware of Windows Updates. Every time Windows does an update, it may cause your hardware to suddenly have issues that require you to disconnect a USB cable, restart your meeting or reboot your computer. Schedule updates at the end of the day and start your computer at least an hour before a web session.
- If connecting with many attendees, ask them to mute their microphone until they wish to talk. This will cut down on background noise and distractions. Consider asking the more tech-friendly guests to opt-in and out of their video connection if they’re comfortable with it.
Web Conferencing Options
There are many choices of supplier to consider. Wading through the hype, bells and whistles of which provider is best for you takes an investment of time. Once again, don’t just settle for the free option because the price is right. Look for a quality provider that has the online tools and support in place to help you. Those resources are worth paying for when it comes to using web conferencing for client relationship management.
Here’s a great article from the G2 Crowd that shows all of the providers, their customer ratings and where they stand on a 4-quadrant grid.
Do you have any questions? Feel free to use the comments section below. We always answer every question and reply to all comments. When we considered web-conferencing for our clients many years ago, we found very few articles online. Hopefully, this will help you make the right decisions in furthering relationships with clients while utilizing the benefits of using current web conferencing technology.
Are you a salesperson who believes in continuous self-improvement? Check out our book SHUT UP! Stop Talking and Start Making Money available on Kindle and paperback on Amazon or our online sales training program The Sales Skills Incubator. Take the free trial on Chapter 1 – The Stigma of Sales. Next week, we’ll be offering September specials to help you drive sales into the Fall quarter.
Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY