Win Over Decision Makers with Virtual Executive Presence
Landing a virtual meeting with a decision maker or anyone in the C-Suite is your golden ticket to go beyond entry-level conversations about features, functions, and prices and fast forward to strategic discussions and setting the bar for the competition. But here’s the thing: decision-makers quickly weed out salespeople who do not appear up to the challenge of working with them or their team on a strategic level. In that first meeting, your decision maker is evaluating you not just on your understanding of their situation, industry, and product knowledge, but also on your confidence, credibility, empathy, and ability to listen – in other words, win over decision makers with your Virtual Executive Presence.
What is Virtual Executive Presence?
You’re probably familiar with the term Executive Presence. It’s ultimately about the ability to inspire, and influence people’s thoughts and behavior without authority. Executive Presence makes it easier for others to listen, to trust, and to be open to following your lead. Virtual Executive Presence is simply the ability to convey these same qualities on virtual calls where initial meetings with the C-Suite often take place.
The Pitfalls of Virtual Executive Presence
If you have Executive Presence, you should be able to easily transfer that to the small screen, right? Wrong. Most sellers (and leaders) struggle to make the same impact they do when in person, virtually. Promising initial meetings with decision-makers quickly turn into last meetings when sellers fail to convey the confidence, credibility, authenticity, or active listening that decision-makers demand. To avoid this outcome, it’s crucial to understand how the key qualities of Virtual Executive Presence are conveyed on camera.
How Virtual Executive Presence is Conveyed to Win Over Decision Makers
1 Confidence: Embody the Belief in Yourself and Your Solution
Confidence is a trait decision-makers seek in their partners. They want assurance that you are not easily intimidated by being invited into the C-Suite and that you believe in yourself and your solution. Because if you aren’t a believer, why should they be?! Maintaining an equal footing is important, as customers don’t simply want a “yes-man” who agrees with everything they say.
One of the fasted ways to express confidence is through direct eye contact. Studies show that we associate averted eyes with a lack of confidence or guilt. While most sellers are experts at maintaining eye contact in person, not so in virtual meetings where customers often only see the eyelids or foreheads of a salesperson. Eye contact on camera is a counter-intuitive but vital skill if you want to see “eye-to-eye” with decision-makers.
Additionally, sellers often lose confidence when confronted with a decision-maker who does not have their camera on. This often leads sellers to engage in endless monologues, repeatedly check in, and answer their own questions. All of which only makes sellers appear more insecure.
Virtual Executive Presence is the ability to confidently engage with audiences – whether you can see them or not.
2 Credibility: Build Trust and Establish Yourself as a Reliable Partner
Your credibility plays a vital role in the decision-making process. Decision makers naturally exercise caution regarding trust, and building it takes time. However, certain behaviors can quickly earn or lose trust. Once again, direct eye contact plays a leading role. People are likelier to trust someone who looks them in the eye rather than avoids it. Unfortunately, virtual meetings make it harder to build relationships, as eye contact is limited.
3 Authenticity: Be Genuine and Consistent in Your Virtual Presence
Decision makers want to see your genuine self and consistency in how you present yourself. While some sellers have taken authenticity to the extreme in virtual meetings, disregarding professional dress, backgrounds, and attentiveness, it’s crucial to remember that first impressions matter. Adhere to the standards you would follow in face-to-face meetings, projecting professionalism and attentiveness. The rule is simple: if you wouldn’t do it in person, don’t do it on camera.
4 Active Listening: Make Decision Makers Feel Heard and Understood
When 25,000 business leaders were asked how to build trust, their most common answer was “Listen.” Even though you may have secured the meeting with your ideas or proposal, it’s essential to let the decision-maker do most of the talking. Actively listening not only makes them feel heard but also provides you with valuable insights to better align with their goals.
However, salespeople that pride themselves on their listening skills are often surprised to discover that their customers don’t feel heard in virtual meetings. That’s because active listening cues, like looking at the other person or those small verbal acknowledgments, like “hmm, uh huh” are lost on camera. In order to make your decision-maker feel heard, understood, and valued, it’s vital to use active listening cues, like eye contact, expressions and summaries to make decision-makers feel heard and understood.
Don’t leave your meeting with the C-Suite to chance. Level up your Virtual Executive Presence and turn those initial meetings with decision-makers into trusted partnerships for a successful sales career.
Want to learn more about how to develop your Virtual Executive Presence? Check out my new Virtual Presence for Sales Pros Course, Workshops, and Coaching programs. Learn to win over decision makers!