"The Navigator" News Blog

How to Have a Productive Video Sales Call

Full disclosure here:  I originally decided to do a demo on how to use AI to create authentic social media posts, and I had Claude create a LinkedIn post on Zoom etiquette. You can watch that sausage being made here.  After doing it, I decided that the content was good enough, and relevant enough, to expand into a full article.  When I expanded it from the original 350 word post into this 1250 word article, all of the additional work was mine – not AI.

If you’d like to have a frustrating experience, schedule a bunch of Zoom interviews for sales candidates.  If you’re like me (I just did some interviews as part of my hiring assistance program), you’ll end your day in open mouthed amazement at how many people who purport to be sales professionals still haven’t figured this technology out.  Make no mistake – mastering the tech to make video calls is mandatory to succeed in sales now and well into the future, so let’s talk about how to have a productive video sales call.

Since 2020, video sales calls have become much more common for sales meetings, client interactions, and team collaborations. Video sales calls can be a great tool – they are time efficient, and can be done at your desk – but that’s a double edged sword. Many professionals still treat Zoom calls too casually, projecting an unprofessional image that can hurt sales and business relationships. Here are some tips to be both professional and authentic, which will allow you to make a great impression in your next video meeting:

Be Technically Prepared!  This is a pet peeve of mine.  Modern salespeople must be competent in this technology – and it’s not going away.  This is the place where most Zoom calls go awry.

  • Log into the video sales call 5-10 minutes early to troubleshoot any technical issues. If you’re trying to sell to someone, they don’t want to sit there and attempt to show you how to make your microphone work, turn your video camera on, etc.  That’s just dumb.  All video technologies that I’ve used have a “test your camera and microphone” screen before you enter the meeting room.  USE THOSE TOOLS so that, at the appointed time, you’re ready to have a productive meeting.  Another reason to log on early is that these apps have a tendency to want to “download an update” at random intervals – and you don’t want to be watching an app update when your customer is waiting on you!
  • Have your video camera set up, working, and positioned properly before the meeting starts. With that said, if you’re like me, the camera is built into the top of your laptop screen, so it’s more about positioning YOU.  Bonus tip here:  When I’m doing a Zoom call with a potential client, I’ll put books under my laptop to boost it up and get the camera at eye level.  That way I don’t have “Zoom face” of looking down into the camera.
  • Close out of any unnecessary apps, browser tabs, and notifications to avoid distractions. For me, Outlook email alerts are the worst, and I have to remember to close Outlook before a Zoom call.
  • If joining from a mobile device, ensure you have a strong internet connection. Again, this is very basic stuff, but it truly amazes me how often salespeople will attempt to make a call from their car, and they’ll have bad bandwidth.

Set the Stage.

  • Find a clean, uncluttered backdrop for your camera view. Blank walls or professional virtual backgrounds work well.  HOWEVER – virtual backgrounds use bandwidth, and can be distracting.  BE VERY CAREFUL if you use them and make sure you don’t pixelate or drop. I never use virtual backgrounds for that reason – plus, there’s always that weird aura around someone’s head when they’re talking, and I find that a bit off-putting.
  • Check your lighting to avoid harsh shadows or backlighting. Natural lighting is best.
  • Minimize potential audio distractions like barking dogs or loud household members. Also, silence your phone so that it doesn’t ring or get a text alert during the call.  If it does, you will reflexively look at it, and guess what?  You’re distracted.

Mind Your Presence.

  • Dress professionally, as you would for an in-person client meeting. If you wouldn’t wear a T-shirt and shorts to a client meeting, don’t wear them on a Zoom call.  In my own experience, I’ve found that I’m more productive in my home office when I dress professionally – even if I’m not going out to any meetings that day.
  • Stay seated and avoid excessive movements that can be distracting on camera. This might be a “do as I say but not as I do” moment; I can get a bit restless on a Zoom call. But I’m aware that it can be distracting.
  • Look at the camera, not the screen, to make direct eye contact. This is both important and difficult.  It’s natural to want to look at the other person’s face when you’re speaking.  After all, that’s what we do when we’re face to face!  But when you do, they can’t make eye contact with you.  Here’s my hack:  I look at the camera when I’m talking, and at the screen (the other person’s face) when they are speaking.

Stay Engaged.

  • Don’t multitask by checking emails, messaging apps, or working on other tasks. Admittedly, this is a HUGE temptation – but you will get caught.  And you might miss something that you should have grabbed ahold of.
  • Ask questions and contribute to the discussion to show you’re actively listening. The caveat here is that, as with any “remote” technology, it’s always easy to accidentally talk over someone. Here’s a hack:  If you’re doing a video sales call as a team, have a chat set up with you and other members of your team, and coordinate (via chat) who gets to talk next.  That way the customer perceives you as a well oiled machine.
  • Avoid eating full meals during the call, which can be unsightly and create noise distractions. The spaghetti can wait. Here’s a funny thing that happened to me a few years ago:  I was doing a video presentation to a CEO group in Boston.  They were struggling with getting their monitor to show my camera, and all they had was my audio.  The problem was on their end, not mine (my camera was working fine, it was their tech that was the problem).  I could see them, but they couldn’t see me.  It was a 3 hour presentation with breaks.  So, about an hour in, we took a 15 minute break.  I got up and grabbed a protein bar.  Confident that I couldn’t be seen, I unwrapped it, took a big bite, and of course, THAT was when they got the camera to work!

I’ve put this article in the context of Zoom calls, but the techniques cross over to all technologies.  In fact, you should also be conversant and capable of operating other technologies.  Get good at Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, and Webex (those are the most common, but there are others).  It’s not that hard, nor is it particularly time consuming. But if you want to stay relevant going forward, you need to be good at it.

By being technically prepared, setting a professional stage, minding your presence, and staying engaged, you’ll project a polished virtual image and be able to have a productive video sales call. Your sales numbers and business relationships will be better for it. Even when the environment is virtual, people still want to do business with real professionals.