How to Get Your Audience to Fall in Love With Your Virtual Event

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Apr 09, 2021 @ 07:04 AM

virtual-conference

Do you remember April 1, 2020?  The entire world was in lockdown and at Objective Management Group (OMG) we had just ten days to figure out how to convert our annual four-day international conference for sales experts to a three-day virtual event over Zoom. The 200 in attendance loved it and right after the conference I posted this article with 15 lessons we learned about the transition from a face-to-face conference to a virtual conference.  

By late last summer, we knew full well that our 2021 conference would also be virtual.  The difference was that we would have 7 months to prepare and we wanted to optimize the conference specifically for a virtual event.  How was it different from what we accomplished a year earlier?  Let me share some of the things we did that worked so well.

Shorter Days - Last year we crammed four days into three days and with nobody having anywhere else they needed to be, we presented for 8-9 hours each day!  We knew that was an awfully long time for everyone to stay engaged so this year we planned two four-hour days.  Much better!

Shorter Presentations - In prior years, including last year, conference presentations were typically 45-90 minutes each.  This year our average presentation ran just 8 minutes!  That allowed us to present on 50 topics instead of 18!

Chat Q& A - At traditional conferences, questions come up throughout the duration of most presentations and the presenter must stop to answer both the good questions and the stupid questions, those that have already been asked as well as those that should have never been asked.  Inevitably there is a person who wants to pound their chest and brag for a while.  The questions and the posturing disturbs the natural flow of presentations and makes them unnecessarily long.  This year we handled questions as they arose, in real-time, via chat and Q&A tools within Zoom.  When there was a question that required a longer answer we answered it live at the end of each presentation.  Result?  Fast-paced, uninterrupted sessions that kept everyone engaged.

More Video - Last year we learned just how much everyone loved our choice of videos.  So this year, we had PENTA Marketing produce a conference teaser, unique 5-minute openings for each day, two different versions of a 5-minute break video with product and company-specific trivia, and six segment-specific 10-second videos to introduce each session.  On top of that we carefully chose inspiring videos to play at the top of each hour as we brought the audience back from their five-minute breaks.  This is an example of a 10-second segment intro.

Better Video - Using video is one thing but getting video to play smoothly on the viewer's computer is quite another.  In the end, we settled on three hacks to make the video play beautifully:

  1. Zoom has a new video feature where you click share, then click the advanced tab, click video and select from your file folder the video you want to share.  The video opens and you click the play icon.  That's it. Regardless of the size of the window on your computer screen, it plays full screen for your audience.  But the frame rate may still be too low to eliminate the choppiness which brings us to hack #2.
  2. Zoom automatically places a checkmark in the "Optimize for Video" checkbox but OMG's COO, John Pattison, discovered that if you uncheck that box the video plays at a higher frame rate.
  3. John contributed one more hack when he discovered that if you lower your screen resolution so it's the same as the standard 720p resolution Zoom uses to stream, the frame rates are higher.

Better Backgrounds - Not everyone had a green screen, enhanced lighting, and a high-end camera so our virtual backgrounds needed to be dark enough to eliminate the swimming and bleeding that occurs when the lighting isn't good and a green screen isn't present.  In addition, we had PENTA create a common background for each presenter and they customized each background with the presenters's name, company and title as you can see below.

Better Slide Decks - To complete the professional, "optimized for virtual" look, each presenter was required to use the exact same professional slide templates that we asked PENTA to prepare for us.  Our slides rocked!

Of course, OMG introduced new features and enhancements to our already best-in-class sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments and that's one of the main reasons for us having an annual conference. 

Virtual events may be with us to stay as part of our new normal so we must step up our game and make virtual desirable, exciting and feature-rich instead of a compromise.  You may not be able to offer face-to-face networking and dinners, but you can offer your clients, customers, users and prospects an unforgettable experience.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales excellence, conference, sales assessments, zoom, virtual, event, virtual backgrounds, slide deck, video creation

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

green-screen

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

How Much Has Video Impacted the Way We Sell?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 22, 2020 @ 23:06 PM

video-call

Back in the old days, when you wanted to copy something, you would have said, "I'm going to Xerox this."  And for years when you needed a tissue you would have asked for a Kleenex.  And when you wanted to clean your ears you would have asked for a Q-Tip.  All three of these are examples where the brand and the product were one in the same.  We're getting to that same point with Zoom video, where more than half of all salespeople are now using Zoom!

Video is becoming such an important part of selling, especially during the shutdowns and quarantines, that Objective Management Group (OMG) is creating a new selling competency called Video Proficient.  As part of the development process to identify the attributes for this competency, we test various questions in advance and examine the distribution of answers to make sure that they are within the norms we need to have.  We also ask more questions than we will actually use.  In the past week, nearly 2,000 salespeople answered 10 potential questions and I thought it would be useful to share some of the data we have already collected.

In March, most salespeople were very uncomfortable conducting their business over video. Look at this article I wrote about video as recently as November!  Yet today, just three months later, 49% of salespeople prefer video to a phone call and another 28% don't have a preference.  That's quite a change!

So how do salespeople feel about video?

Video-feelings-1As you can see, 91% of salespeople now have positive feelings about using video for selling!

Are they Zooming? 

Video-platformsActually,  they are, with 56% of salespeople using Zoom.  I was surprised to see 38% still using Skype and 26% still using Facetime.  I predict that before the summer is over, most salespeople will have moved from those two platforms.

How serious are salespeople about their video and what kinds of accessories have they added to make their video more professional?  Nearly 40% are using virtual backgrounds and almost 20% have added external microphones, HD cameras, green screens and/or studio lighting.

How proficient are salespeople becoming with video?  They're doing better than I expected.  More than half consider themselves to be intermediate users, while almost 30% believe they have mastered their video platforms!

Video is here to stay and not just because so many of us will continue to work remotely.  It's here to stay because it's a far more effective tool than the phone and almost as good as being there!   

Image copyright 123RF          

Topics: Dave Kurlan, salespeople, zoom, remote selling, video conferencing

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

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

zoom

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

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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