Nothing Beats This One Tool When You Can't Sell Face to Face

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 19, 2021 @ 10:08 AM


The "ABC's" is an alternate term for fundamentals.

Unless ABC stands for Afghanistan, the Border, and Crime. The US Government has seriously botched the ABC's in 2021 and there's no way to easily undo what's been done.

However, there are some misguided selling strategies that can be undone and in today's article we'll discuss the benefits of the single tool that is the real deal and a huge difference maker.

Email sucks for everything except sending links and attachments, confirming meetings, saying hello, catching up, and sending along meeting agendas.  You should never sell over email and you know this.  How many unsolicited emails do you delete each day with offers to generate leads, appointments, SEO, website design, IT help and more?  Would you like to know what is always more effective than email?

The Phone is a much better way to have a conversation because you simply can not have a conversation over email.  You lose context, tonality, meaning, timing, spontaneity, and all of the dynamics of a conversation!  Please choose the phone for prospecting, following up on inbound leads, making outbound calls, and for follow up conversations.  Would you like to know what is always more effective than the phone?

Video is best.  While you can have an actual conversation over the phone, you can't see how your prospects and customers are reacting and for building trust, they can't look you in the eyes.  Video solves that.  I'm going to use my dog, Dinger, as an example.  You may recall that last year I proved that Dinger has better listening skills than most salespeople.

This 14 second audio provides an example of what you might hear when asking a question over the phone.

Link to Audio 

Now listen to the audio - but WITH video and watch how vastly different it is from what you expected.

Seeing how they react, how they respond and what they do is even more important than hearing their words.  I know, my example is with a dog.  Would it be any different if you asked a person?  Suppose you asked, "Is this something you would find useful?" and the human said, "yah, sure."

Let's assume you have the ability to observe them and you see them responding to email while they absentmindedly say, "yah, sure."

It's more important than ever that you choose video over phone if you can't meet face to face.  You want to have every possible advantage, tool, weapon, strategy and tactic at your disposal and video is the closest you can get to the good old days of face to face.

One of the new competencies that Objective Management Group (OMG) now measures is Video Proficiency.

When evaluating a sales team we also capture two videos of your salespeople delivering their elevator pitches and value propositions.  When assessing sales candidates, the Video Proficient competency, while not one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies, is still very nice to know.  Check out our best-in-class, sales-specific, accurate and predictive sales candidates assessments here.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, video, selling skills, sales assessments

Selling Over Video - The Six Things You Must Do Next to Improve Your Look

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 17, 2020 @ 09:11 AM


At this point, most salespeople have accepted that the majority of their sales "calls" will take place over Zoom or similar video platform.  However, accepting the reality of video selling, and maximizing that video selling for effectiveness, are two completely different things.  In today's article, we'll discuss the next set of steps you should take so that selling over video can be as effective as possible.

I don't really care what your video looks like for internal meetings, but I care a lot about what it looks like when you are selling, selling your company and selling yourself.  There are six additional things to consider beyond the platform you choose to use and how to master that platform.  In this article we'll cover all six!

Virtual Backgrounds - Do you remember what you learned about making a good first impression back in Sales 101?  Good, because I don't ever again want to see your bedroom, kitchen, living room, basement, loft, deck, closet, office cubicle, boat, the default beach image, or any of the standard backgrounds that Zoom and others make available.  They are all unprofessional.  You can upload any image to Zoom, so upload your logo, a trade show background, the front of your building with the logo showing, or a professional photo of the product you sell.  Anything except what is actually behind you!  If you don't know how to do this, find someone who does and do it.  

Green Screen - The problem with virtual backgrounds is that because they're virtual, they tend to bleed, causing your head to look funny, your hands to disappear, and maybe your hair and ears too.  You can easily fix that with a green screen.  But don't get just any green screen.  Make sure that you seek out one that easily sets up, collapses, and is easy to move around and store.  I like this one.  Warning, you have to set up green screens immediately behind you and right up against your chair so if you choose to leave it set up I guarantee it will be in your way

Lighting - So you have your virtual background and green screen but you still don't look professional because there isn't enough lighting in enough of the right places. I get so frustrated with salespeople whose faces I can't see because there is a window behind them causing them to look as if they are in the dark, or they really are in the dark (figuratively and literally).  Instead of messing around with shades and lamps, invest in an inexpensive clip on USB LED light.  Lighting will make all the difference in the world, but once you have good lighting, you'll want to pay more attention to getting camera ready in the morning!

Camera - Your built-in camera might be fine, but if you're using a Mac, the camera is only 720p and isn't full HD.  Not only that, your built-in Mac camera lacks the settings to make adjustments.  To solve this problem you can either purchase a clip-on 1080p USB HD web camera, or download iGlasses, which works in conjunction with your cameras and allows you to adjust focus, zoom, color, brightness and more.  Stay away from the dozens of cheap Chinese-made webcams that are promoted for half the price. Connection, compatibility and quality need to be brainless.  The last thing you want to do is spend hours getting your camera to work!  

Microphone - Your built-in microphone is not fine.  Invest in a USB broadcast microphone and you'll sound better than if you were there!  This is especially important if you are going to record a video and post it, send it, or reuse it.  I like the Blue Yeti.  Just a warning, these high quality microphones pick up everything, especially the sound of you typing on your keyboards, but also barking dogs, crying babies, landscapers running their mowers and blowers, and dishes!

Wardrobe - Most of us are not locked down and we are free to leave our homes and return to our offices.  That said, there are no more excuses for how we all look when hopping on a video call.  At least from the waste up, look professional!  You don't have to wear a shirt and tie, but no more tee shirts!  In the northeast US, it's late-fall and winter is knocking on the door so a long-sleeve collared shirt and nice sweaters are good options for men, while business blouses and conservative sweaters and tops are good choices for women.  Guys - shave!  Everyone - fix your hair! 

Colors and textures are important too.  According to Jordan Stolch, Wardrobe consultant at ThriveGlobal, "Neutrals such as blue, grey, charcoal, off-white/cream, khaki and navy are your best choices for on-screen colors as they consistently register with the camera and ensure you look professional, trustworthy, and experienced."  I don't recommend that you wear solid black or white as cameras do not like those two colors.

Here are two examples:

See the difference?  On the left, long sleeve crew shirt and distractions galore but the lighting is OK.  On the right, all as it should be with green screen, virtual corporate background, good lighting, and a nice sweater.

It's time to up your game on video.  With every moment you spend on video, your prospects are judging you! 

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, video, zoom, selling over video, video tools, dressing for business video, microphone for video, lighting for video, green screen

Video Conferencing for Salespeople - To Zoom or Not to Zoom?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 06, 2019 @ 14:11 PM


No data or statistics today.  No sales training or coaching either.  This won't be a lesson for sales managers or sales leaders.  This is my rant of the day.

Netflix?  √
Blue jeans? √ 
Tee shirt? √ 
Laptop? √ 
Smartphone? √ 
Zoom Meeting room? √

Lately it seems that everyone has a Zoom room so congratulations to Zoom!  They're adding telephony so they seem to be expanding their offerings.  The question is, if everyone is rushing to Zoom for their advanced meeting platform, why aren't salespeople taking advantage of it?

Selling has generally moved from outside to inside.  The advantage of selling from ones desk or home office is that it's much more efficient and far less costly.  The disadvantage is that people still want to meet the people they are doing business with.  Enter video.  Video conferencing allows prospects and customers to see us, without us having to travel.  It's better than audio-only, otherwise known as phones.  

If video enhances our ability to sell from the comfort of wherever we are, why is it that nearly every time I join a Zoom meeting the host's video is turned off?  Doesn't that defeat the purpose?

In my opinion, the appeal of the technology has caused everyone to jump on board but the availability has moved more quickly than our readiness to adopt the technology. Many salespeople are either too embarrassed or too uncomfortable being on camera to turn on their camera.  And then there's the group who turn it on but don't center the camera on their face!  Do us a favor - you're the ones who shouldn't be turning on the cameras!

Video meetings are the future.  Video meetings are important.  The technology to sell by video conference is easy-to-use, ready-to-use, requires no training, and can help you be a trusted advisor - a status you cannot achieve as quickly by phone or in a Zoom meeting without video.

When I'm being sold to I keep my camera off - but for some reason they don't turn theirs on.  When I'm doing the selling you can bet your bottom dollar that my camera is on, I'm looking at them, I'm animated, and behaving exactly as I would if I were sitting in that prospect's conference room or office.


Come on people - turn on your video!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, video, zoom

Study Says to Highlight 3 Features in a Sales Presentation

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 25, 2013 @ 05:11 AM

A very interesting article caught my attention on Inc. Magazine's website.  You must read the article in order to understand the following questions.

The goal of this study was very cool indeed, but the study, despite being developed by two business professors from Georgetown and UCLA, was poorly designed.  For example, how would the results have differed if:

  • The students were actually going to choose, instead of answering questions,
  • The students were going to spend their own money,
  • The students were choosing between only 3 ice cream shops,
  • The study participants weren't students,
  • If we knew in advance which features were most important to the students and presented only those features, regardless of quantity, as one of the options.

In the end, we are all in search of a shorter, more effective sales cycle and any help we can get is always appreciated.  This video, posted last week at Sales2.0Circle, has a nuance that will help shorten your sales cycle.  

Dave On Selling

One thing to keep in mind about sales cycles is that everything is relative.  For example, if you are standing on the road and a car goes by at 60 miles per hour, that vehicle appears to be flying by!  On the other hand, if you are in traffic, driving 60 miles per hour and a car passes you at 65 miles per hour, that car appears to be barely moving.  So, a sales cycle length, on its own, is meaningless until compared with the cycles of your competitors, or a new, customized, staged and optimized version of your own sales cycle.  A newly designed sales cycle must have the power and nuance to significantly shorten your current sales cycle.  In my experience, most companies that reach out for help have been able to shorten their sales cycles from 1/3 to 1/2 its original length.  However, I have also witnessed companies that attempt the sales cycle redesign on their own and end up with a cycle designed by committee.  This version is usually long on steps, short on the proper staging and milestones, terribly out of sequence and no more effective than what they began with.

An effective sales cycle not only will be shorter, but opportunities will convert from stage to stage with higher frequency.  While there is an advantage to closing the same percentage of opportunities in less time, the greater benefit is closing a larger percentage of opportunities in less time.  Sales cycle redesign is a good start, but the salespeople must be able to execute on the new sales process as well.  Many sales processes die upon introduction as sales managers are unable to hold salespeople accountable for following the process and aren't able to coach to the new process either.  

Integration is key.  You can't pick one of the following from a menu.  They must be implemented together to assure success:

  • Evaluate your sales force,
  • Customize and optimize your sales process if necessary,
  • Introduce the new sales process to sales managers in a memorable, meaningful way,
  • Train your sales managers on the new process and hold them accountable for owning it,
  • Train your sales managers to coach to the process (the key to any training initiative),
  • Introduce the new process to salespeople in a memorable, meaningful way, 
  • Train salespeople to execute the new process,
  • Train your sales managers to hold salespeople accountable to the new process.
What I described above could, and should, take the better part of a year!  No, not the sales process customization - that takes 30 days - tops.  The introduction?  That's a day.  The training - prepare for a year.  Why so long?  You won't be changing  simply the stages, steps and sequence of the sales process.  You'll really be changing the way your salespeople sell and change like that takes time, especially as they learn to sell in a more consultative way - the only way for them to truly differentiate in the market place.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales cycle length, presentation tips, video

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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