How is your business growing during quarantine? Growth during what’s being called the “new normal” is on every one of the partners I work with’s minds – and I’m sure it’s on yours too. The pandemic has forever changed the way we and our clients will do business in the future – and that’s a good thing, as it has forced all business owners (including MSPs) to re-evaluate their comfort level with “work from anywhere” strategies, the cloud and security. It’s now suddenly completely acceptable to hold sales meetings and QBRs without setting foot in a client’s offices, and in fact makes these meetings more effective and less prone to rescheduling, according to the partners I work with.
I’ve been championing and training partners on the use of virtual, collaborative and video and desktop-sharing platforms since the middle of 2020; when it became apparent that Covid-19 wasn’t going away anytime soon, as a proactive strategy to get MSPs and their business clients back to collaborating on business growth strategies, once the transition to remote workforces was behind us.
Here are 10 strategies I’ve developed as a result of the work and feedback I’ve documented helping MSPs succeed in selling virtually:
1. Know your virtual platform like the back of your hand. The key to success in leveraging virtual platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and others is to not make the platform a distraction from the meeting flow. If it appears you’re just learning how to use the platform during your sales or QBR meeting, your odds of success will be stacked against you.
2. Adjust your presentation approach to leverage your platform’s full capabilities. One of the aspects I like best about using virtual video and collaboration platforms is the ability they afford you to have all of your presentation material prepared and ready to share precisely when the moment is right. You can share data, testimonials, slides, proposals, agreements and more with complete control of the client experience, allowing you to build urgency and accelerate sales velocity in a carefully planned sequence, and avoid distractions or interruptions. A great contrast to this point is when you are delivering an in-person sales presentation and the client immediately begins skimming through your proposal or any other handouts you may have provided in advance, interrupting your flow and value-building opportunities as they flip to the last page of your documents in search of pricing. When you control the platform, you will reveal your budget and investment requirements at the exact point in time that provides you the best advantage to build the value in your offering.
3. Let your prospects and clients know your meeting will be virtual with details. Let’s not assume every prospect knows how to navigate a virtual meeting if you haven’t conducted one with them yet. And even if you have, it’s important to reinforce the details of how to connect to the meeting, any requirements needed, (like a video camera) and ways to reach you if they have a problem signing on the the meeting. And if you are presenting to a high-value prospect, consider investing $50 or so to get them a high-quality Webcam – it’s a great tactic to secure your appointment.
4. Include an Agenda to your meeting invitation. Increase the effectiveness of your virtual meetings and elevate your audience’s perspective of your professionalism and leadership by always including an Agenda with your meeting invitations, and ask your prospect or client if they would like to add anything to the meeting Agenda. You’ll be surprised how many additional opportunities are uncovered simply by asking for additional discussion topics ahead of your scheduled meetings.
5. Send a customized reminder the day before your scheduled virtual meeting. Many of the virtual platforms in use today have a built-in feature that does this for you, but the guidance here is to customize the branding and content of your reminders to continue to promote your professional image and elevate your audience’s confidence and trust in you by distinguishing your communications to them over the platform’ generic text-only reminders.
6. Log into your platform early and prepare your assets. If you do many of the same types of virtual meetings and QBRs, you can standardize on the assets you present and the process by which you do so, to deliver a consistent experience for each of your prospects and clients. Preparation and consistency in delivery increases trust and confidence in your audience, and improves the efficiency and outcomes of each of your virtual meetings.
7. Check your equipment – audio, video and lighting before attendees arrive. Always, always, always do a pre-flight check of your equipment, Internet connectivity and your back-up Internet options (a smartphone or mobile hotspot has saved my bacon a few times) before the meeting starts. You don’t want to be troubleshooting your Tech when the meeting starts – refer to item #1 at the top of this list. Check out my Virtual Meeting Rig here.
8. Confirm who is attending and welcome everyone. Sometimes there is a tendency to “roll into” a virtual meeting without triple-checking the meeting invitation, only to find that your contact has invited others from their team to attend. This has caught me off-guard in the past, so I always check the invitation the day before and while I’m in pre-flight to make sure I can at least do a little research on any “last minute” attendees. Once the meeting begins, welcome each attendee and ask their role in the organization and what they would like to get out of the meeting – don’t assume everyone shares the same interests or goals, so ask. Many times folks have been added to my virtual meetings at the last minute by a prospect because they thought it would be good for them to be involved, without prepping them beforehand. When possible, you can help reduce any awkwardness by being extra prepared in advance.
9. Warm attendees up as you normally would, then transition to the next phase of your meeting. Your goal here is to make your meeting participants comfortable, so just as in any other meeting, the first step is to warm them up and get them to relax – this is the “small talk” time that allows you to begin to build your relationships by getting to know one another. Once everyone is at ease, you can ask permission to move to the next phase of the meeting, whether that is the qualifying or presentation phase of a sales meeting, or the exposition or presentation phase of a QBR meeting.
10. Don’t make it awkward! This is the most important element in ensuring the success of your virtual meetings – and it comes down to practice and preparation. If you feel awkward in general during meetings, a virtual meeting will amplify this, so practice and role-play your virtual meetings with teammates or colleagues that are willing to give you candid feedback. And refer back to item #1 at the top of this list – master your platform so it isn’t the cause of distraction or awkwardness during your virtual meetings.
Check out my 45 minute ON-Demand webinar on this timely topic, where I cover not only the top 10 tips for selling virtually in the new normal in detail, and growing your business without setting foot in a prospect’s office, but also the importance of using the right equipment in order to make these meetings as effective as possible. I also share what makes up my virtual “rig”, and why it is so important to upgrade your gear beyond your laptop’s built-in webcam in order to be successful in virtual sales and QBR meetings.
Bonus: Download my entire “Virtual Meeting and Webinar Rig” Equipment List and Links to get it all – just click the button below to check it out now, and send me your feedback!