We’ve all heard the adage: Listen more than you speak. It’s good advice—particularly if you’re in sales. Listening to your prospect’s needs and desires not only allows you to understand how your offering solves their problem, it also allows them to sell themselves on your offering. All you have to do is engage and ask the right questions.
“When you ask a powerful question, the person sitting across from you uses their imagination to come up with a thoughtful answer,” writes Bill Carmody for Inc.com. “The real value of the meeting is contained within these answers, and the best salespeople know how to extract the right information to help the prospect come to their own conclusions and talk themselves into the product or service that you’re offering.”
The bigger or more complex the deal or the longer the sales cycle, the more valuable it is to ask your prospects questions that make them think about using your product. But it’s going to take more than one meeting. Once you’ve established a rapport in person, video conferencing can be used to meet with prospects face-to-face regardless of location and maybe even close a sale sooner than you would otherwise.
The power of video conferencing lies in the very fact that it allows prospects and salespeople to see each other. Everyone is busy these days, and taking a sales call may not be a top priority for your prospect. On a video call, however, you can rest assured that you have your prospect’s full attention. And if you don’t—because someone walks into the room or they start to multi-task—you can call them on it, politely asking if there’s a better time to have the discussion since you can see they’re busy.
Video also changes the nature of the discussion. You can connect with prospects on a more personal level and more effectively engage with them by creating a safe space in which they can think and speak freely. “Before you can respond to a question with words, you first must think of your answer and in doing so your mind paints a mental picture that changes the focus of the conversation,” writes Carmody.
This can be difficult on a voice-only call, where prolonged silence can be misinterpreted. If you can see that the prospect is considering an answer before speaking, you won’t be tempted to interrupt their train of thought to confirm they’re still on the line. Instead, you can permit the natural pause, thus eliminating presence disparity that could disrupt the client’s thought processes and emotional connections he/she is forming in the process.
Face-to-face sales calls over video conferencing also allow you to read the prospect’s body language and use that information to ask more effective questions. “When someone strongly opposes what you are saying, the most powerful way to turn around an objection is to turn their statement back around into a question,” says Carmody. Sometimes strong opposition is audible, but other times it’s the silent folding of arms and leaning back in one’s chair—something completely lost on the person at the other end of a phone line.
Finally, video conferencing provides additional opportunities to ask questions that can help prospects “[bond] a powerful emotion onto their interaction with you.” Ideally, you want to ask questions that allow prospects to think about their personal experiences in relation to your offering. But when that’s not possible, you can also use items in your prospect’s environments to kick start a discussion about those things that are (literally) near and dear to him/her–a family portrait, sports paraphernalia, or a piece of artwork—that’s in the frame of the video call.
By engaging with prospects and asking the right questions, you encourage prospects to draw connections between their problem and your offering. In-person meetings establish rapport while video conferencing can build off that foundation. In effect, by answering questions, your prospects do the hard work of “making the sale” while you carefully lead them to the desired conclusion.