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Sales is among the most challenging of occupations, even during the best of times. Toss in a global pandemic, and now we have to switch gears to remote selling.

Countless hours and resources are spent identifying potential customers, nurturing leads, and closing deals. Much of the working world in a time of pandemic is living through the awkwardness and frustration that can come with remote work in 2021. That is the exact reason we are bringing the next Master Sales Series of 10 Tips for Remote Selling. George Lieth wants to share his knowledge with what has worked with his sales teams and pass them along in hopes Conquerors can leverage them.

  1. Join early
  2. Share an agenda
  3. Dress for success
  4. Be aware of your surroundings
  5. Become the master of mute
  6. Stay seated, stay in frame
  7. Minimize distractions
  8. Have empathy
  9. Plan for an effective kick-off and wrap up
  10. Shutdown other programs.

Join the conversation in the Conquer Local Community and keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy.

Introduction to Remote Selling

George: Welcome to this week’s edition of the Conquer Local podcast, we’re continuing a series we started over three and a half years ago called the Master Sales training series. This episode is very poignant because all of us are dealing with remote selling. Some of us have dealt with remote selling for quite some time, and I have 10 hardening tips on how you could do remote selling better. We’re gonna cover that next of the Conquer Local podcast.

Well, here they come, the 10 tips for improving your remote selling motions, and you’ve gotta be doing them. I find when I’m talking to sales professionals and I get a chance to do that, not as much as I would like, but I do it quite often, they’re saying, boy, this is new. I’ve never even done this before. I’ve used Microsoft Teams maybe because that’s what our company uses for meetings but when it comes to face-to-face talking to that customer, we’ve gotta take a look at how we could improve that experience because let me tell you, I’ve been in some really bad meetings in the last 12 months.

Join early

So number one, join early, treat an online meeting like it’s a meeting that you’re showing up to at a business. I don’t think it’s going to work out for you very well if you always show up 10 minutes late. The other thing is, if you are already having anxiety around the technology and is it gonna work and is my background right and, how do I look? And all those sorts of things, joining a little bit early will give you the ability to make sure that the screen is set up properly. You have your visual presentation ready to go, whether that’s a sales deck or maybe you’re going to go through a live demo or something like that.

So joining early is one of the great ways to reduce the level of anxiety you’re going to have, because we’re dealing with technology and sometimes, and it’s not just you, you may do everything right on your end, but there’s someone else on the other end that’s dealing with technology and you might be at, at their mercy when it comes to, you’re gonna have to download the thing and you have to click this button and you gotta to get the settings and, you got something over top of your camera. So number one, join early.

Share an agenda

Number two, I have found that sharing an agenda in advance is always a great way to make the meeting matter. Especially if you’re doing some sort of a team-based meeting, they go down rabbit holes like crazy. As much as it’s nice to have somebody chair the meeting when you’re doing it face to face, also when you’re doing a meeting and you’ve got all the tiles up there and you’ve got all the people, having someone chair that meeting really important, but then having the agenda inside the notes and you book the meeting two weeks down the road gives you a place to put some things, a place to maybe ask some questions of the other folks that are gonna be on the call. So it is a way to kind of set the stage as to what’s going to happen and make that meeting matter.

Dress for success

Number three, dress for success. Well, I think there’s been enough memes and there’s been enough, little videos online that are quite comical sometimes about the fact that a lot of us have not worn pants, since March, but that also does not give you the excuse to do the meeting in your underwear or in your pajamas or in something that does not look professional, you are still carrying on a professional meeting. It is still a business meeting. So, you might wanna wash your hair. You might wanna comb it, you might wanna… I’ve found that this whole thing of, I’m remote I don’t need to try anymore, it actually is a thing. I’m hearing from people, lemme tell you, if you get on a call trying to sell me something and look like you just rolled out of bed, it’s not gonna work out for you.

The same way as it wouldn’t work out for you if I was in your business, trying to buy something from you and you look like that. So I think that, remember this is business to business selling a lot of times it’s a commercial sale. So you need to be dressed for success. If you don’t wanna wear pants that’s fine but just be really careful that you don’t get scared and stand up during the meeting ’cause it might not go so well for you. Or if you forget to turn off your camera.

Be aware of your surroundings

Number four, be aware of your surroundings. I can’t talk enough about this. I have never, in my 31 years of sales been invited into more bedrooms to do presentations than in the last 12 months. Now, I have empathy for people that are working from home that don’t have an office or they have, an area where they could have an office but there’s three kids running around because they don’t have daycare.

So, I get all of those items, but thank goodness technology companies have given you a way to solve this. You can get a background and just put it behind you and it can be professional looking, you could have your logo there. I have one of my colleagues that has a screen up in the corner of his room. It’s just a white wall with a screen he’s got the logo of the company up there. It should look clean and tidy. It should be exactly the way you want people when they come into your office. Now, another thing that I would like to say is put some things into the background that are your personality. The same way if I go into a business owner’s office they might have a plaque on the wall or a photo that matters to them or something like that. You wanna have that same level of personality when you were doing the Zoom call. The more that we can make the experience online as much like you’re just being invited into a virtual office to do it, I think the more that it keeps it to be a very professional meeting.

Become the master of mute

Number five, become the master of mute. You have to have seen the meme. Top quote of 2020, “you’re on mute.” You can see somebody who’s making a presentation, they’re very passionate. You’d see they’re waving their hands, they’re going crazy, but no one on the call has a clue what they’re saying because they’re on mute. It’s okay to jump in and say, Colleen, you’re on mute. In fact it helps the presenter because the last thing you want is for them to go on for five minutes with a very passionate delivery and then they gotta go back and redo it. It’s never going to be as good as it was the first time. But also the thing that I liked about mastering the mute button is when the grandson comes in with a little plastic bat and wants to smack you in the head with it or yell at you, you hit the mute button, you get really good at muting, you can kind of get rid of some of the distractions that may be happening around you. It also is really good if, got somebody beside you that you’re having a conversation with, but, like really keep an eye on the mute button.

We’re here in studio with my colleague, Brent Blazieko and we worked in the radio business for a long time. Radio announcers are experts at the mute button. They know how to turn it on if they’re gonna cough so that you don’t even hear the cough online. If they wanna say a bad word, they can mute that thing out. But, the thing that we’ve learned in a long running career of being on the air, you never wanna say anything in the control room that you wouldn’t want to be said on air. So if you can’t drop an F-bomb, don’t say it. Just don’t say it in the area that you’re having the meeting, like just don’t even do it. Then it doesn’t have a chance of leaking out. The other thing is always assume that the mic is on. Unless you look at the mute button to see that it’s muted, your mic is on, so just keep your mouth shut. Another thing on the mute button. If you’ve gotta do a heavy sigh, ’cause you don’t like something or you wanna like take a deep breath, just mute it. Nobody on the call wants to hear you heavy sigh or deep breath or cough or whatever is going on. So become the master of the mute button. I wish they would just mandate that it was in the same place on every platform too, wouldn’t that be nice? But they’re all over the place.

Stay seated, stay in frame

Number six, stay seated and stay in frame. I know that that kind of goes against what you’re being told by your trainer who’s saying stand during the day, sitting is the new smoking, but it’s super annoying when you leave the camera on and you’re walking from your truck through the parking lot and the person is watching, you can’t help but watch it because it’s right there on the meeting and, you’re kind of getting, vertigo because you’re watching the screen. So if you’re going to be doing the meeting, it’s okay to just turn that off, turn the camera off. Say I’m on my way to my office, traffic was bad, but I’m listening to your part of the presentation. Just turn the camera off. Then when you get into the meeting, you wanna make sure that you stay in frame and the best way to test this is to set up your meeting and then maybe even put like some tape on the desk where you set your laptop every single time, because then you know that what’s happening behind you is in frame.

I can’t tell you the number of meetings that I’ve had where I’m talking to somebody’s forehead, or worse yet I’m talking to just like from the nose down and I can see what they had for lunch in their teeth, because they’re really not paying attention to how far they are away from the microphone and what the audience is seeing. So stay seated, stay in frame or if you have to stand make sure that you’re taking into account that now you need to tilt the camera up a little bit so that you’re still in frame. Smile, you could still use your hands. You could still do the things that you do live in front of a group of people, but just make sure the camera’s on, game on.

Minimize distractions

Number seven, minimize distractions when working from home. I’ll tell you I’ve been on a lot of these meetings over the last year and listen, all of these 10, I could take these tips too, because I’m sure that tomorrow I’ll probably screw some of them up. It’s an ongoing challenge, but the more that we can do to minimize distractions, like to tell our family members, I’m about to go on a call, so don’t come out to get something out of the freezer because maybe your office is your garage. Use noise canceling headphones. That could help you to focus on the conversation while something might be happening over on the side. Turn off your social alerts in your cell phones. Practice active listening. I find that active listening is hard. I love multitasking, turns out I’m bad at it. My colleagues tell me that all the time. Active listening is key when you’re dealing with one of these meetings. You can’t be over here on LinkedIn or Facebook. You can’t be over here responding to an email. You need to be focused on the listener the same way, would you really be on Facebook or responding to an email if you were in a face-to-face meeting? God, I hope not. So the same type of thing, minimize those distractions.

Have empathy

Then number eight, have some empathy for others in the meeting. So this goes together with number seven. It also goes up here with number six. You’re like, you’ve got all these rules. They’re great. We love rules. Then the next meeting you’re gonna be on, somebody’s gonna have a toddler beating them with a plastic bat and screaming at them. You’re gonna say, well, that’s not professional. George has these 10 rules I heard in the Conquer Local podcast, but we don’t really know what’s going on in that individual’s life. COVID has done crazy things to all sorts of families. They may not have daycare. They may have a studio, in a downtown of a large metropolitan area and they were never set up to work from home, but they’re now forced to work from home. They may not have the proper gear to make it work like the lighting and things like that. So having a little bit of empathy around this, and maybe if it’s something that is on your team, you might wanna say to them after a call, there’s some tips on how to have some of these better meetings, because maybe they just don’t know. So having a little bit of empathy I think is pretty important because we’re dealing with something we’ve never had to deal with before.

Plan for an effective kick-off and wrap up

Number nine, plan for an effective kickoff and wrap up to the meeting. This comes from, even doing this in an in-person meeting. So you’re going to talk about, here’s what we’re gonna try and accomplish in the meeting. Does anyone wanna add anything to the agenda? We’ve had the agenda in the meeting notes since our last meeting. We have a few takeaways from the last meeting. We’re gonna cover those first and then we’ll go into the agenda items. We have a 55-minute time limit on this meeting, I’m gonna time box it. I’m gonna hold people accountable to the agenda and then at 50 minutes, we’re going to do a wrap-up so that we can lay out what the next steps are going to be. Someone has to chair the meeting. Someone has to keep the meeting on track and we don’t really have the ability to reach across the counter and grab the person by the throat to get them in line. So we have to do it virtually and by just laying out those simple ground rules, I think you’ll find that these online meetings become more effective and then what you’re going to find when you get back into the office eventually, you’re going to have even more effective meeting habits face-to-face.

Shutdown other programs.

Number 10, shut down everything else. I think it just protects you on the meeting. We live in this world of always on constant notification. You just don’t want something bad to come up on the screen. The other thing that I’m bad at is I do a lot of screenshots. Sometimes I’m doing screenshots of things that I wanna fix and sometimes I’m doing screenshots of things that I wanna, maybe use as a guide to build out other items, but you just don’t want something on there that, you can’t explain, like, why do you have that on the screen? So sometimes I find it to be more effective to just share one tab so that you’re not sharing the desktop and bouncing between tabs, but shutting down all of the other programs on your device gives you the ability to really stay focused when you come to that meeting.

Conclusion

10 tips for remote selling is our topic on this week’s Master Sales Series so let’s look at them, I’ll run them down for you. Number one, join early. Number two, share a proposed agenda in advance. Number three, dress for success. Number four, be aware of your surroundings. Number five, become a master of the mute button. Number six, stay in frame. Number seven, work to minimize distractions. Number eight, have some empathy. Number nine, plan for an effective kickoff and wrap up to every meeting. Number 10, shut down all the programs so that you can stay focused on your message.

With a little bit of practice, I think that we can polish our appearance and have better online remote selling motions as we move forward in this new normal of 2021. Thanks for joining me on this edition of the Master Sales Series, a part of the Conquer Local podcast. My name is George Leith, I’ll see you when I see you.