An often-quoted adage in the sales world goes, “People buy from people.”
Here’s another one, “Buying is an emotional process justified rationally.”
What are these proverbs trying to get at?
You could have the most amazing sales pitch in the world. But if you are unable to make the buyer connect emotionally with their pain and with you, your chances of making a sale are slim.
A low tone, a nervous demeanor, jittery hands, and lack of eye contact are a disaster for making a human connection, let alone making a sale.
Coming off as arrogant and self-centered? Same outcome.
We have written extensively about observing and interpreting your prospects' body language and facial expressions on video calls. Taking stock of how you come across to your prospects and making improvements is just as crucial.
Video sales take away a lot of non-verbal communication, but it’s wrong to assume that non-verbals don’t matter in the Zoom world. Since non-verbal cues are fewer and harder to observe, and the human brain is programmed to judge people based on their reactions and demeanor, they are even more important for your sales outcomes now.
Why does your perception matter?
Your prospect's decision to buy from you depends not only on a business case, but also on how they perceive you. Specifically, every human being looks for the following traits in the person that they are considering doing a deal with:
- Likability: People like to buy from people that they like. These could be people whose personalities appeal to them or people who are similar to them.
- Empathy: Buyers want to feel seen, heard, and understood. Your desire to help them recognize their problems and solve them shines through.
- Reliability: People buy from those who they think they can rely on over a long period of time. Your impression subconsciously extends in the buyer’s mind as an impression of the company, of the product teams, and of the customer support that they would get once they buy from you.
- Confidence: Your confidence in your product and in yourself acts as a proxy for how good the product is and how strong your company’s position in the market is. People want to buy products that excel and from companies that are market leaders.
All of these needs play into the buyer's psychology while making a purchase decision. It’s not just about the strength of your product or the features and benefits. It’s also about how you and your company are perceived, and what the long-term relationship looks like in the buyer’s mind.
Done well, being good at communicating non-verbally with your buyers could be a competitive advantage in your sales cycle.
4 communication strategies that make you likable, empathetic, reliable, and confident in sales conversations
Here are some ways in which you can establish the above traits in your prospects’ minds during video calls and improve your chances of winning deals:
Strategy 1: Maintain eye contact to build trust
Over thousands of years, we’ve evolved to view eye contact as a positive sign of communication.
Regular eye contact establishes confidence and likeability.
Lack of eye contact - looking up, down, sideways, or behind the person - establishes a lack of trust and confidence.
Maintaining eye contact over Zoom calls is easier said than done, though. For one, there are many distractions (please don’t check your phone or your CRM when engaged in a conversation with your prospect!).
Secondly, to really seem like you have eye contact, you actually need to look at the camera and not at their eyes. This comes with practice but might reap rewards in subtle ways for you.
In fact, we have a detailed post that describes some basic tips to maintain consistent eye contact with your prospects. Check it out and let us know what you think.
Strategy 2: Mirroring in words, body language, and voice
People trust others who look, speak and behave like them. Aren’t you predisposed to trust yourself more than others?
This also plays out in how we choose our friends, partners, and the companies where we want to work. At the highest level, similar values attract. At the most basic level, similar behaviors also attract.
Mirroring is about making the prospect feel at home while talking to you. When you speak fast with prospects who speak fast, and when you take a no-BS tone with prospects who don’t engage much in small talk, you are mirroring their behaviors.
Mirroring helps establish likability and empathy and makes the prospect feel that you are on the same page as them. Leaning in and gesticulating with a prospect who likes to lean in and show gestures is a good way to create rapport and cross the “this person is a stranger” barrier quickly.
Using your prospect’s words to describe their problem helps them feel that you heard them and you think like them.
Read more in-depth about mirroring and a few strategies to get better at it.
Strategy 3: Using hand gestures and posture to show openness
When you make your hands visible in a video call and use open palm gestures to support your arguments, it creates a positive impression on your prospects.
Gestures paint a visual picture along with the auditory stimulus from your words.
Open palms and visible hands communicate that you are being transparent and open. It shows confidence, reliability, and empathy.
Using gestures also makes your pitch or demo engaging and affects your voice inflection and tone. Nobody likes listening to someone who is sitting still without any variation or animation.
Mark Bowden, widely regarded as one of the top body language experts in the world, and one of our advisors, speaks extensively on this topic here:
Strategy 4: Using your tone of voice to build bridges
Your tone of voice can communicate confidence and understanding, or meekness and disregard.
Your tone could be welcoming or communicate animosity.
Interest or disinterest.
Your tone of voice can set the tone of the call, and even that of the deal. Being mindful of using tone to indicate your understanding of your prospect’s problems, confidence in your solutions and the nature of your remarks is paramount to sales success.
It's an iterative learning process
Nobody is perfect at showing their ideal self all the time.
Call after call, discovery through demo through proposal - it's not always possible to be at your best.
And that's expected. Building rapport quickly and effectively using simple techniques like mirroring and gesticulating takes time and effort before they become second nature to you.
The first step is to admit that you need to get better at it.
The next step is to consciously practice the strategies outlined above and in other blog posts on our website (or from the myriad other amazing sources on the internet that help you get better at communicating).
And then, review how well you did. Understand what went right, where you could have done better, and iterate through another loop.
That's the way to get better at non-verbal communication and rapport building.
It's not straightforward. But it's learnable. And it's worth it to learn.
Literally, worth it in dollars of commission.
Conclusion: build a relationship
Building a relationship in a call or two is a challenging task.
It’s also one that you have to master as a salesperson to achieve your goals.
Being mindful of using body language and tone of voice to your advantage would come naturally to you with practice.
The more your prospects perceive you as someone they want to buy from, the better it is for your success.
Are there other ways that you’ve used to establish likability, empathy, reliability, and confidence in sales calls over Zoom?