8 Tips to Get the Small Talk Right in Your Virtual Client Meetings
Pitching your product to prospects can be hard during such unprecedented times. We are all adjusting to the shift from the physical world to the virtual world. Pitching over video calls can be challenging and at the same time very different from what you have been doing for years. There’s a weird space-time continuum between the point you start the video call and the point you actually start pitching your product. This is considered to be the time where you are supposed to make small talk with the client.
Even though it is called small talk, it can be very important as it sets the tone for the entire meeting. And you know what they say about these meetings…
Well nobody says that, but it does make sense if you ask me.
So here are a few things you need to keep in mind when you enter a video call with your prospect.
Address the Elephant
Address the Elephant that is COVID. There is no point pretending that everything is normal and you like to organise meetings over zoom instead of meeting in person.
So don’t run away from the topic of COVID. Talking about it makes you appear human and my best guess would be that most of your clients are humans too. So unless you are a part of SpaceX’s intergalactic marketing team, in which case, your prospects, aliens from Mars, won’t really be aware of COVID. Talk about issues you care about as a human and currently COVID happens to be one of them.
Another thing to make sure is that you don’t talk too much about COVID cause then your meeting would be about COVID and not your product. We don’t want that.
Be optimistic and avoid playing the victim card
Look, we all know that business is not operating as usual, these times have been hard on you. However, your client doesn’t need to know about it. When you’re trying to make small talk or talking about COVID for that matter. Try and be optimistic rather than playing the victim card.
Let’s be honest, when you play the victim card you come off as a loser and nobody likes to do business with a loser.
So make sure that your glass is half full and not half empty.
When I was young, my parents told me to always enter a room with a smile. It doesn’t seem like a game-changer, but believe me, it is.
When you smile, you subconsciously deliver your optimism across the table…well across the screen in this case. Your smile would show that you are really confident and pleasant as a person. A smile is also contagious and unlike COVID, it’s actually something you should infect your clients with 😉
Science suggests that humans actually convey more through their body language than through their words. Now, since we are seeing each other through our screens, it is important to make sure that we give off physical cues through our facial expressions. On a virtual meeting, your facial expressions need to do all the talking. So don’t just sit there with a poker face, enter the (virtual) room with a smile on your face and spread that contagious smile of yours.
Talk about the challenges you have been facing
Your business and more importantly you personally must have faced some challenges in the recent past due to the lockdown.
It is safe to say that some of these will overlap with the challenges your clients must be facing. So talk about your challenges and ask your clients about their challenges.
This will help build trust not just on an organisational level but also on a human level. I feel it’s not stated enough that building trust is perhaps the most important aspect of a business deal.
Congratulate them on their accomplishment
If your client recently achieved something, that could be a topic for you to start off with. Congratulate them on this achievement.
This means that you need to do your homework and keep a track of what your client is up to. These can even be personal achievements of the person you are interacting with. A great source for knowing what people are up to is Linkedin. So make sure that you follow the people you are meeting with on Linkedin.
This often makes for a great conversation starter if you are meeting your client for the first time.
Get them to talk about something they like
According to human psychology, an easy way to get people to like you is not by talking about yourself, rather by getting them to talk about themselves.
The first meeting with a client is like a first date, your goal should be to have a good time and get to the second date.
Let’s be honest here, no one is going around sealing the deal in their first meeting.
When you get people talking about what they like, they feel good. Later when they look back on the conversation, they associate that feeling with you.
Next time, remember that the more you listen, the more your client will like you.
Get comfortable and familiar with each other’s workflow/systems
You should use the stating 5 minutes of the meeting getting familiar with the system and each other’s workflow.
This could be getting familiar with the app/software you are using to connect. You can also use this time to explain how you usually proceed with your pitch, for example, let’s say you like to take questions after the pitch. If that’s the case, you should let your client know that and they can do the same from their side.
Getting done with this in the initial few minutes will reduce the interruptions and confusion later on.
Stalk your client
Remember when we said that a client meeting is like a date?
It’s usually better to know what your date likes or dislikes before actually showing up for the date.
The best way to know this is by looking at what your client talks about on social media. Knowing such information will give you conversation topics to go for when the awkward silence starts to settle in.
This will also bring out certain areas of common interest between you and your client. It’s a match!
These are the topics you definitely want to use to warm up your client. Talking about topics that are of mutual interest will build trust and make both the parties more comfortable with each other.
Bonus Tip: Make it more of a conversation
When you are meeting with your clients physically, you tend to pick on physical cues to make sure that your message is getting across. These could be head nods, shoulder shrugging, raising of eyebrows among many.
However, over a video call, it is difficult to spot these physical cues. Therefore it is a good practice to engage your client as much as possible.
Ask them questions, make your pitch more interactive. Throw in a few jokes here and there to lighten them up a bit. (They don’t need to know that your jokes are carefully planned and planted 😛 ).
Interested in reading about how to further talk to your potential customers? read our blog and find out!
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