Last month’s column discussed the unintended messages that may be delivered to your customers by the appearance of your sale tools, vehicles, and your personal appearance. Covid-19 has changed the way you interact with homeowners, at least some of the time, moving many meetings to a virtual environment. This month’s column will focus on the unintended messages sent when you are not cognizant of appearance in a virtual setting.

First Question Still the Same

Just like with face to face sales calls, I believe that when you arrive for a virtual sales call the first decision that a homeowner will make is “Do I buy this salesperson?” They make decisions on your honesty, trustworthiness, knowledge, competence, and if they don’t “buy” you, then selling your company, product and price becomes more difficult. Some of these decisions take time to work through, while others are pretty much instantaneous. Let’s look at body language, dress, and physicality of space to help ensure the messages you’re delivering virtually are ones you want to deliver.

Muted Messages

An important part of any sales interaction, body language messages, are easier to deliver face to face than in a virtual setting where they are more muted. During a virtual presentation, your only visible from the chest up, and you should focus on exaggerating body language triggers like smiling, eye contact and nodding of your head. Smile big … and smile often to communicate that you are likeable, engaged, open and confident.

The tendency during virtual meetings is to look at the other person on the screen, but what they see is you looking down, or to the side depending on what type of device is being used. Focus on making eye contact with your camera, so it appears you are making eye contact with your customer during a presentation. This is a balancing act for sure, you need to make eye contact with the homeowner, but also need to read their face as well for clues on their understanding of your message. For that reason, you will want to alternate where you focus, but make sure to make eye contact with your camera during important moments, especially when asking a question, or asking for the sale. Nod your head often when the homeowner is speaking so they get the message that your listening intently and receiving their message.

Virtual Dress Code

Be mindful of what your wearing when presenting virtually. Avoid black or white shirts if presenting on a laptop or computer. Those cameras can have some auto adjust issues with those colors which will make you appear fuzzy as you move during the presentation. I personally have not noticed that issue when using an I-Pad or I-Phone. Also avoid bold color prints or patterns as they can be distracting. The dress code for a virtual presentation should be the same as a face to face sales presentation. If you want to be perceived as a sales professional, you should look like a sales professional. That means business casual, from the shirt, or blouse to the dress slacks or skirt, all the way down to the shoes. Scratch that last part – let’s be realistic, you can get way with going barefoot, or wearing fuzzy slippers for a virtual sales call. After all I don’t want to be a “Dress Dictator”!!

Lights, Camera, Background

Where you place the camera, the lighting, and what’s in the background should be planned out as well. Bring your camera as close to eye level as you can get it to keep your audience from having a clear view up your nostrils. Avoid lighting that is directly behind or above you, especially if it’s a harsh light. This will make you appear dark and not easy to make out. For best results, lighting should be behind the camera or at a 45-degree angle to you. There are many relatively inexpensive lighting options available that can help and a small investment can go a long way. Keep the area behind you clean and free of clutter to cut on distractions. A sign, or screen with your logo may be a good choice.

There you have it – with a little forethought and planning, you can make the virtual you, look as good as the real you…or in my case…better.