With business travel and face-to-face meetings limited as a result of the ongoing pandemic, the negotiation process has changed completely in the past year. The sales process has faced a new challenge in closing deals without human interaction. Virtual negotiations have made it more challenging to connect with customers in a way that builds trust and rapport. After all, it’s not easy to strike a huge deal with someone you have never met in person. Research has even shown that people are more likely to walk away from a deal when they don’t connect with the other person. Thus, the current remote working environment has left many sales professionals seeking new ways to connect with their clients virtually. The good news is that you can take practical steps to increase engagement and make your virtual presentations feel more personal.
Always Use Video
One of the most critical components of any negotiation is the ability to connect with the other person. There is no question that video conferencing greatly enhances that human connection far better than email or chat correspondence. It is vital that both parties be able to see each other in real-time, make eye contact, and conduct an actual conversation versus an email negotiation. In addition, it is worthwhile to invest in an HD quality web camera so that people can see yours clearly.
Acknowledge the Attendees
Just as you would shake everyone’s hands and introduce yourself upon entering a face-to-face meeting, you want to formally acknowledge each person attending the virtual meeting. Greet each person by name and thank them for attending. Throughout the meeting, it is also important to call on each person by name and set the tone for others to do so as well.
Make Eye Contact
Eye contact is extremely important in any conversation and it allows you to connect with those around you. This is no different in a virtual setting. Make sure that your camera is angled appropriately so that you can look directly into the lens. This helps the recipient feel like you are looking directly at them. Always look right at the camera, and avoid looking up, down, or at something on your desk while you are speaking. Just as you would in person, you want to maintain eye contact whenever you are speaking in a virtual negotiation.
You want to be sure your virtual setting is just as professional as an in-person setting would be. For example, make sure your room is well lit so that your screen does not appear dark. You would never turn the lights off in a meeting room so make sure your screen looks the same. Likewise, turn off the self-view feature, as it is too tempting to want to look at yourself to see how you look on screen. You would never look at yourself in a mirror in a physical meeting, so there is no need to be distracted by self-view on your computer. Finally, avoid cheesy backgrounds and choose a space in your home that is free of distractions in the background.
Pay More Attention to Tone and Inflection
Since body language is taken out of the equation in a virtual environment, people are only left with tone and inflection by which to judge a person’s emotions. Make sure you are speaking clearly and using a tone and inflection that is confident and warm.