Lunches, conferences, and sometimes just a smiling face and a kind demeanor were once ways of sealing the deal with potential sales. Then the pandemic hit, and face-to-face interactions evoked feelings of unease and risk more than companionship. While it’s easy to conduct virtual meetings with familiar clients, forming good first impressions are far more difficult online. Since bonding is an important aspect of any sales opportunity, let’s review the keys to building virtual customer rapport.
What is Virtual Selling?
The concept of virtual selling isn’t new. It’s performing conversations digitally to try to sell a product or service – namely via video conferencing apps like Zoom or Skype. This sales method has been around for years, but COVID-19 transformed it from a convenience to a necessity. Closing deals via video and opening up text channels with clients is now the norm, and it has been a dramatic shift from how some entrepreneurs and small businesses once performed selling. However, no longer meeting in person can understandably present some challenges when it comes to building rapport.
What are the Difficulties of Building Virtual Customer Rapport?
Salespeople face a high level of skepticism, which can lead some to become uncomfortable committing to the sales process. As such, you must focus more on building a relationship and confidence in your product or service and less so on the transactional nature of the meeting. However, there are new and unfamiliar hurdles inherent in virtual selling, including:
- Unreadable Body Language: When meeting buyers face-to-face, it’s easier to alter your tone, pace, and interaction based on visual cues. However, in virtual environments, a delay in one’s feed or lack of visuals can make this difficult.
- Static Time and Space: Virtual meetings start at a designated time and usually launch straight into business. There’s less opportunity for natural occurrences and chitchat.
- No Wining and Dining: Meeting in a coffee shop or grabbing a meal to connect with a buyer is a thing of the past. Casually meeting with prospective customers is more difficult virtually.
- Canceled Industry Events: In-person events were a great way to network and form partnerships. While online conferences are valuable, it’s difficult to build rapport without human interaction.
Fortunately, in marketing, face-to-face selling is not your only avenue. With the expansion of the digital world, pivoting your marketing strategy can lead to more rapport-building opportunities.
How Can You Build Virtual Customer Rapport?
Building rapport in a virtual world can seem difficult, but it’s no less important to the sales process. The public’s perception of sales hasn’t changed just because it’s being performed differently than before. Here are a few tips that can help you establish a relationship:
- Keep Your Camera On: Keep your video on, even if your customer keeps theirs off. If your buyers can see you, it makes the virtual meeting more personal and helps build trust.
- Make Time for Small Talk: You may be tempted to jump straight into the sales agenda, but simply asking about the buyer’s week can immediately improve the tenor of the meeting. Ending the meeting on a high personal note can also make a lasting impact.
- Be Proactive In-Between Meetings: Reach out to customers and connect for short meetings, or build rapport around meetings by messaging them via email, text, or social media. Let them know they’re not just another sales opportunity by adding personality to your messages.
Remember, people buy from people. Adding a human element to your conversations will earn their trust, allowing them to make informed purchasing decisions. It’s also important to maintain a relationship beyond the sale to reassure them that they’re more than just a source of income.
By applying these keys to building virtual customer rapport to your sales process, you’ll begin to lay the groundwork for consumers to recognize the solutions to their problems. With machine learning and artificial intelligence leading the sales world, a humanizing sales process can be a breath of fresh air to seasoned buyers. At Vision Advertising, providing personalized business consultations and designing marketing strategies based on building relationships comes naturally to us. If you need help connecting with your consumers digitally, contact us today.