Creative Virtual Strategies to Engage with Clients

Author: 
Lauren Breslin

The implications of COVID-19 have changed how businesses run forever. However, organizations are continuing to grow their business despite the pandemic. In order to do that, salespeople need to be aware of how selling has changed and what they need to focus on when approaching clients. Here are three important factors to consider:   

Communication Methods 

It has been a major theme of the pandemic to get in front of clients in a face-to-face way, leading to a rise in usage of video chat services like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype, among others.  When setting a client meeting, always propose to have a face-to-face virtual meeting first. They may not choose to do a video call but put your best foot forward by offering it.  

When communicating with clients over video, be sure to treat your preparation as you would a typical meeting. Have marketing materials prepared, an engaging sales deck and any other collateral to help convey your message and show the most value to your clients. Proper sales materials will make the difference between a good and great sales call.  

Lastly, don’t be afraid to abandon the typical meeting style to create experiences with clients. Many organizations will usually take clients to sports games, dinners, or happy hours to build rapport. While some of these activities are impossible in today’s times, virtual experiences can bring a lot of value to your clients. Invite them to a virtual happy hour, an online fitness class, or an exclusive webinar they’d enjoy. Finding creative opportunities will help clients learn and interact with you while strengthening the business relationship.

Communication Topics

During challenging times, a common theme among salespeople is selling with empathy. Show clients you are cognizant of the situation at hand, while continuing to do your job. Selling with empathy can present itself in different ways. Clients might respond better to a more consultative salesperson over an overzealous one who is pushing the sell very hard.  

Be clear and concise with clients and show them the value of your product or service. Use your best judgement and determine what your communication strategy should be. Call them and ask them how they are doing, how their employees are coping, or what has changed about their business since lockdown. People are generally curious about what other businesses are doing and your clients will easily talk to you if you show genuine interest. While the topic of conversation is key when working with clients, half of all successful communication is in the follow up. We recommend adopting a three-week follow-up process. Reach out to clients every three weeks and have different conversations each time. This cadence won’t overwhelm your clients and will keep your organization top of mind for them. 

Meeting Etiquette  

The transition from in-person meetings to exclusively virtual meetings was a jarring change to salespeople and clients alike. While some may think it’s easy to translate typical meeting demeanor to a virtual platform, it's not quite that simple. There are easy mistakes people make in virtual meetings that can be avoided with preparation. For instance, while you of course need to consider how you present yourself, also consider how your new “office space” represents you, too. Ensure you turn your camera on and look at what’s surrounding you in the frame. Also, adjust your camera so that you are eye-level just as you’d be in an office setting. If your chair swivels, lock it so you’re not swinging back and forth unconsciously.

Before the meeting begins, create and share an agenda with your client. Make the agenda organized by time blocks and easy to read. Sharing an agenda and any sales materials with your contact ahead of time can help keep a meeting on track and engaging. Not only will an agenda help you stay on track, it will also impress your clients with preparedness and consideration of their time. An agenda will also help keep meeting brief and help avoid meeting fatigue for both you and your clients.

Once the meeting begins, remember to turn off your self-view on the video call. You do not want to be staring at yourself for the entire meeting. Look into the camera to focus on what your client is saying. Again, not at their face on your screen but into the actual camera lens. This might feel unnatural at first but will make the difference in your meetings and help you have a more engaging presence.  

To further engage your client, you need to ask the right questions to fully understand what a client's needs are. To figure out what questions to ask your client, think about who your clients’ customers are. Their customer is the ticket into their business. Is your client’s customer doing well through this time? Understanding this will be critical in helping your client. Once you find out what your client needs to be successful through asking the right questions, it will help you sell with more effectively and offer better solutions.   
 
The adaptations businesses have had to make due to COVID-19 have been difficult to say the least; however, salespeople must consider the new ways they can successfully service their customers, as well as how they will prospect new business, to help keep their organizations afloat during these immensely challenging times. 

Lauren Breslin is vice president of sales at LaSalle Network, a national staffing, recruiting and culture firm.