Online Sales Meetings: How Can They Be More Effective?
During the last few months, not only did we have to adapt to the format of online sales meetings, we also started to live with a greater number of interactions of this type in our daily work.
According to a survey conducted by professors from Harvard and New York University, the average number of daily meetings increased by 12.9% compared to the pre-pandemic period.
In other words, in order for us to perform all the necessary tasks in our business routine, these meetings need to be more efficient, right?
For that, the main thing is not to try to transport the experience from the face-to-face to the virtual, but to actually build an online experience for meetings with clients and team members.
In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to do this. Check out!
From face-to-face to virtual meetings: what has changed?
If the idea is to develop meetings that are effectively designed for the virtual environment, it is interesting to talk first about the main differences between online and face-to-face sales meetings:
Straight to the point
In face-to-face meetings, we have more clearly the “coffee moment”, when we break the ice and set the mood for a meeting.
In videoconferencing, the natural thing is to get straight to the point. This means that it is more difficult to get everyone on the same page – both when the subject is more serious, and when the objective is to relax and integrate the participants.
Lack of feedback
It is also more difficult to have a perception of how people are reacting to messages in videoconferences, as many choose not to turn on the camera or there is instability in the connection for this.
Thus, for the meeting leader, there is a greater challenge than face-to-face “eye to eye” meetings.
Let’s be honest, many of us take advantage of videoconferences where we are not presenters to catch up on WhatsApp messages, emails and even to organize the home office drawers.
With this, whoever is leading, faces greater difficulty in engaging and, consequently, in delivering the desired message for the meeting.
11 Steps to Make Online Sales Meetings More Effective
Considering these three challenges we’ve listed, regardless of whether your meeting is with customers, staff or other areas of the company, our recommendation is that you focus on overcoming these barriers.
Remembering that, both in the virtual and in-person environment, efficient and productive meetings need to have some main elements:
- Purpose – why the meeting takes place
- Preparation – planning for the meeting
- Participation – engagement of gifts
- Process – the content, format and flow of information to be passed
- Continuity – the post-meeting, with concrete actions
How, then, do you target these elements for the quality of your online sales meetings? We apply them in 11 steps to successful videoconferencing:
1. Be clear about when a meeting is really needed
Have you ever seen that meme of “I survived yet another meeting that could have been an email?” Well, it doesn’t exist by chance.
In fact, many of them happen for no reason that justifies putting everyone in a room, even a virtual one. So, the first step is to understand if your videoconference really needs to exist, or if an email or WhatsApp audio could resolve the issue much more quickly.
Also think about who is a mandatory or optional presence in the videoconference, so you start off on the right foot in the goal of engaging who really matters.
2. Keep fixed schedules for recurring agendas
When a meeting is recurring – or if there is a need to review points frequently, the ideal is to create these fixed appointments. In this way, a culture of updating on a given agenda or for a given issue is developed.
This type of meeting is particularly useful for periodic updates with customers or the team. Also, because this moment centers all interactions with these audiences on a specific topic.
3. Choose the most suitable technology
In these last few months, we had the opportunity to test and learn more about features of different videoconferencing tools. The most common are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Whereby and Google Meet.
Which one does your company already use?
The ideal is to know that some of them have different functions that can be very useful to improve the experience of your meeting.
Therefore, it is always worth exploring possibilities such as recording, division into rooms, questions & answers, surveys, among others.
And be open to changing your preferred tool according to the focus of your videoconference!
4. Prepare an agenda for each meeting – and share it with everyone in advance
The meeting agenda is part of the preparation stage. It is the planning of how your message will be transmitted in order to achieve the desired goals.
To do this, always prepare the theme of the meeting and the materials you will present in advance. And preferably share with all participants at the time of the invitation. We recommend following a structure such as:
- Purpose of the meeting;
- Who should participate;
- What must be taken or prepared by the participants;
- What will be the impact of video conferencing?
This way, not only do you have the chance to prepare a better meeting, you get everyone on the same page.
5. Establish agreements
It is common for any meeting to lose focus or even have inappropriate behaviors for its continuity – such as the participant who continuously interrupts, for example.
Therefore, it is interesting to establish the rules of the game, whether at the briefing of the meeting or in the opening minutes.
You can define, for example, if the camera should be turned on or off or when the ideal time for the questions and if they should be asked by microphone or chat.
6. Avoid home office interruptions
We know that it is very difficult to separate your personal and professional life when you are in the home office, especially for those who have children and pets. However, as much as possible, try to avoid interruptions that could affect the flow of meetings.
7. Start with the goals
We’ve already talked about preparing the meeting agenda and sending it to participants beforehand, right?
And it is this agenda that should be the first topic of your videoconference.
This way, all participants can really be on the same page and know what to expect from this meeting.
8. Close with the next steps
Afterwards, at the end of the meeting, it is important to return to this agenda, checking what was achieved and what should be left for a new conversation – including respecting everyone’s time, to end the call on time.
Also leave the final 5 minutes to define the next steps, as well as the responsibilities of each one.
9. Send a minute to those involved
Simply summarizing the next steps at the end of online sales meetings is not enough for them to be followed. Therefore, it is necessary to send minutes to all participants.
No, it doesn’t have to be super formal like it used to be. A simple email or task distribution in the CRM system or project management application solves the problem!
10. Evaluate format and results
The evaluation of the main meetings is also important to incorporate improvements in those that lie ahead. You can either ask for more formal feedback (especially from customers) or assess over time your own achievement of defined goals.
And, whenever there is an opportunity, improve!
11. Beware of video conference fatigue
In closing, pay close attention to avoiding what is being called “video conference fatigue”.
Yes, they can be really exhausting, for several reasons, such as the high stimulation of the brain and the permanence for a long time in front of the screens.
In other words, once again it is necessary to assess when a meeting is really necessary and how long it should be. We are moving towards greater efficiency in sales, optimized meetings are part of that.
Don’t run away from them, online meetings are here to stay!
We’ve been talking for a few months about home office, remote sales, video conferencing… And, more and more, what we’re realizing is: even with the “back to normal”, many of our current habits will remain.
Being able to easily bring together people from different locations or being able to find a customer without wasting time on the road are certainly examples that are part of this list. So, as with other practices, the path is to embrace change at once and make the best of it!