Authenticity is vital to creating a trusting relationship with prospects, clients and colleagues. Typically, salespeople can demonstrate authenticity through in-person sales, thanks to body language, eye contact and the intimacy of a shared space. But, shifts in selling have made virtual selling the current primary method for many. In turn, reps may be concerned that their authenticity is not translating through a screen.
LinkedIn’s Steve Kearns believes that despite this shift in selling, reps can still convey their true authenticity to others. “While there’s no denying the disadvantages of distance in this conversation, salespeople are wise not to overlook the unique benefits of a virtual selling dynamic when it comes to being authentic and relatable,” he explains in an article for the network. He shares five rapport-boosting tips that can help reps connect, showcase authenticity and build credibility, even if it has to be done from a distance.
- Be yourself.
- Be on camera.
- Come prepared.
Authenticity via virtual selling is possible
Be yourself. The first tip that Kearns shares involves being mindful of how you present yourself. Even though you’re having to meet through a screen, you should still strive to be yourself and encourage personal connection. Don’t panic if your background shows off your personal photos or the prospect catches a glimpse of your dog on the screen. These nuances of virtual selling can actually work in your favor, especially in regard to authenticity. “Under prior circumstances, these things might have been viewed as unprofessional or sloppy,” he acknowledges. “But over the past year, most people have been working from home and dealing with similar distractions. In many instances it can prompt a relatable comment or conversation.” With this “layer of polish” pulled back, reps actually have more opportunity to show their authentic selves.
More tips to consider
Be on camera. A recent blog post already discussed the importance of using video during sales calls. Kearns agrees that this adds so much more to a meeting and can really help showcase authenticity. Not only can you pick up on the prospect’s body language for clues, they can also see you. They can see your face, your reactions and your body language (as well as the aforementioned personal touches like your background). These all combine to reveal you as an authentic person, not just a salesperson. If you need some tips to get more comfortable on camera, check out these previous articles.
Come prepared. Reps should know that pre-call research and preparation are important. But, Kearns urges them to consider preparing more casual topics to discuss as well to establish authenticity. Rapport often comes naturally in-person, and reps may mistakenly think the same goes for virtual meetings. While conducting the typical research about the prospect's business, industry, etc., go ahead and seek out some insight into casual conversation topics; LinkedIn may be a good source for this information. Check out posts they’ve made, shared and liked; take a look at past cities they’ve lived in; find out their alma mater; etc. Their online activity can be a great starting point for generating talking points. These conversations will help you build rapport with the prospect and your own thoughts on these topics can build your authenticity and trustworthiness.
Build trust though authenticity, even when virtual
These tips, along with the others Kearns shares, help reps demonstrate authenticity to prospects despite not being together in person. This authenticity is what helps drive trust, giving the prospect confidence to buy. As Kearns writes, “Connecting at a deeper level and cultivating strong relationships is essential to success in modern selling, and it begins with getting the real you across." Don’t let the virtual aspect of calls and meetings derail your efforts.