In our continuing Sauga 960 radio interview series, we tackle sales strategy and tactics as life gets back to (somewhat) normal!

Your Business, presented by David Wojcik, understands business. As the CEO/President of the Mississauga Board of Trade, he focuses on current commercial issues and how they affect entrepreneurs and key executives. 

Listen here:


David Wojcik: After you get the attention of a prospect and you book that all-important first meeting, what is the best way via Zoom to get them engaged and move them along your sales process to close? To help us with the conversation is sales guru Linda Kern. Linda is the president of the Kern Group, providing a sales growth process and unique tools for driving sales results. Welcome, Linda.

Linda Kern: Thanks, David.

David Wojcik, Sauga 360

David Wojcik: So, Linda, this world of Zoom has really thrown a lot of salespeople into a little bit of a tizzy, because they’re so used to making those phone calls, booking an appointment, going out and seeing a client, and Zoom has really the sales world upside down. So first of all, let’s talk about that very first meeting, icebreakers and how you get to somebody on board. Is it different with Zoom than it is in person?

Linda Kern: I think the short answer is yes, it’s different, but the longer answer is, and not really. Because it’s still a structured sales call. It’s still an opportunity for you to connect with a prospect, to ask your questions, to follow an agenda that you set in advance. And so I haven’t changed a whole lot.

I am, though, aware of … I’m really, really watching the body language. I’m really paying close attention, because I don’t have the physical presence of being in the room with someone. So I’m listening to the tone of their voice and watching their body language and watching their facial expressions, because I want to play off that in the questions I ask, in the statements I make.

David Wojcik: That was going to be one of my points to make and get your opinion on this, because with Zoom, it’s so easy for people to get distracted, especially if you’re not saying anything really all that interesting for them. At least when you’re in a room and you’re face-to-face with the prospect, it’s a lot more difficult for them to do something with their mouse or be texting while you’re making a presentation. How do you keep them engaged? What are some of the little secrets that you have?

Linda Kern: Well, I’m big on agendas. And so I want the prospect to know that I’m taking this meeting very seriously, that this is a regular sort of sales meeting. So if I don’t send an agenda in the meeting notice, because sometimes people don’t actually see notes within the meeting notice, I will send an agenda under a separate cover. So then they can see that this is a serious sales meeting.

The other thing, the distractions that you described, I’d say hard to do very much about that. But the distractions, from family, from pets, I get the biggest kick out of that. And so I want to … Like, “Hey, don’t worry about that. We’re all kind of struggling.” Dog in the background, kid walking through. My favorite, cat walking right across the whole screen. You can’t even see the person’s face anymore. But for the other ones like checking email, I haven’t really experienced that too much. So I’ve been kind of lucky. So, yeah, that’s kind of-

David Wojcik: And have you been changing the presentation or do you recommend changing your PowerPoint presentation if you’re going to do that? I mean, some people still don’t do that. They just engage in the conversation. They have an agenda, that unique way of just making sure you’re asking good questions to keep a prospect engaged in the conversation. Do you find that you’re required to change up that PowerPoint presentation these days in order to keep the prospect engaged?

Linda Kern: Well, I actually, I have a lot of very strong rules about using PowerPoint. I wouldn’t have it any differently than in person, but I would say to everybody who’s using PowerPoint, really keep the words way, way, way down. But that would be in person or on Zoom. Keep the words down. Keywords on the screen with an enticing picture. And the way I describe it is, think about the prospect maybe losing their train of thought for a moment, and you want something on the screen that will just pull them back to that, to what the topic is you’re talking about. But it’s not a script. It’s not a script.

And on that note, I have this great hack that I have the Zoom meeting open on part of my screen, and I have it right here right now. And then I have OneNote which I use open on the other part of my screen. You can do top and bottom or left and right. And then I tell them, “I’m actually taking notes.” So I’m not actually responding to email. I’m taking notes, because I’m a big note taker. I don’t want to forget anything.

So you can actually do that where you can’t do that in person. You can actually take some notes. Now, they might see my eyes drift over here, but I’ve already told them I’m taking notes. But if I am showing a PowerPoint, pictures only, a keyword or two, because you want them focused on you and not the slide. You want them to feel your enthusiasm and passion for what you do. You want to feel you’re authentic, being yourself.

David Wojcik: When it comes to length of meetings, I know everyone that I speak to getting a little bit Zoomed out. We’re starting at 7:00 AM on a screen, we’re finishing at 6:00, 7:00 on a screen. Do you find that where you would maybe normally book a one-hour meeting with someone in person, do you find that you need to scale the time back, even if it’s just by 15 minutes and it’s a 45-minute meeting as opposed to a full hour?

Linda Kern, The Kern Group Inc.

Linda Kern: I’m so glad you brought that up. And the answer for me is yes. Yes, scale the meeting back. Don’t shortchange yourself. But I do find that you’re not going from reception, getting a coffee to their office, chit-chatting and, and et cetera back out to reception. You’re actually, you do a little bit of, “Oh, we know so-and-so the same, we both know the same people, or our kids go to the same school.” Whatever we do to chit-chat at the beginning. But we’re actually getting into the meeting much quicker. So yeah, you can cut it back.

For example, I do some business development for an organization and we used to do the second meeting would be a 90-minute meeting in person with a prospect, because we really needed to get to know them and their issues and the fit. And we cut that back to 60 minutes via Zoom, and it’s working fine. I’m wondering if it’ll stay at 60 when we’re back in person, which will save me a couple hours every week.

David Wojcik: And that brings me to the next question is, I know everyone is … Maybe not everyone. I am looking forward to getting back to some personal interaction, face-to-face. I know a lot of people that I talk to are, “Oh, I’m Zoomed out. I wish I could do that.” Do you think that salespeople may continue to use Zoom as a tool because it is so darn efficient?

Linda Kern: Yeah. What I think and what I hope happens is that a phone call … Because that’s what also has happened with me is something that would have been in the past a phone call is now a Zoom call. And so I’m hoping phone calls become Zoom calls and face-to-face calls stay as face-to-face calls. However, let’s say you would have driven from Toronto to London. Now, you might actually be able to have just an effective a meeting and save yourself the two, two-and-a-half hour drive, depending on traffic.

So I think it’s going to be a hybrid. And I still think that people … So my experience in working with a lot of business owners is they want to be in person. So they are going to want you to be in person. But I feel like I’m going to give people a choice. Do you want me to come out or do you want to do a Zoom or a Teams call?

David Wojcik: Well, I know now that even when I’m in the car and I’m driving back and forth, I’m still on a Zoom call.

Linda Kern: Are you really? Oh, man.

David Wojcik: I’m on a Zoom call. I had one this morning. The phone was in the coffee cup holder. I’m not distracted by it. But it was set up that way, so we just continued that way.

Linda, we’ve only got a few seconds left. When it comes to Zoom calls, when it comes to executing on Zoom, what’s your best piece of advice for salespeople?

Linda Kern: I would say get a next step, which is the same advice I would give for a face-to-face meeting, is don’t forget at the end of the meeting to wrap the meeting up in some sort of way and say something along the lines of, “It sounds like you’re interested. It sounds like there might be a fit for us to work together. Let’s schedule a next meeting. Do you have your calendar?” Which of course they do now. They’re not hunting for their phone. They’ve got their calendar right there. And actually book that meeting then and there.

Linda Kern: And I might do something like, “Is next week good for you? I’m looking at Thursday.” Or whatever the case may be, but get a next step. Always keep the sales process moving forward. Because if you can get a next step, that’s a good sign. That’s an active prospect. If they won’t give you one, that’s not as good a sign. You might have to figure out some other way to be more compelling with that prospect.

David Wojcik: Always great advice from our sales guru, Linda Kern from the Kern Group. Thanks, Linda, for being with us.

Linda Kern: Most welcome. It was fun.



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