Using Video Effectively In Virtual Selling With Julie Hansen
The virtual selling industry grew on a large scale because of the pandemic. Every entrepreneur was pushed to bring their products and services into the online stage, aiming to shift to a much broader internet shopping and better prospects. Discussing this topic in detail is Julie Hansen, the CEO and Founder of Performance Sales and Training. She joins Chad Burmeister to talk about the power of video calls and meetings to lock in successful sales deals – but only if they are conducted properly. Julie underlines the importance of effective body language, particularly on the facial expressions, in this time of virtual connection, and why we should turn on our cameras more often.
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Using Video Effectively In Virtual Selling With Julie Hansen
I've got a special friend with me. Julie Hansen is the CEO and Founder of Performance Sales and Training. She's also a former actress. We're going to get into a bit of this. Julie, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Chad. It's great to see you. You live across town. In better days we could meet somewhere but here we are.
Interesting times, no doubt about it. Things are looking up. We're excited for that. We're going to talk about an important topic around work from home and how do you use video effectively. Before we do that, tell us a bit about your background. How did you get into acting in the first place, and then how did you parlay from acting into selling?
I was in sales first. I started out as a buyer for a company. I went into sales because it looked like they were having so much more fun than I was, and they were. I realized it was more challenging than I thought because when you're a buyer, everybody calls you back. Suddenly in sales, it's like, “This is different. I'm not sure I like it.” I was struggling with keeping my confidence up, going out there, facing people and handling rejection. I started taking some acting classes. I thought it would help me get out of myself and gain more confidence. It not only worked but I loved it. I started doing more acting and moved to New York. I did a few things, but I always worked as a salesperson for the most part.
That's part of my story. I started using that when I coach salespeople because there's a lot of crossover between being a performer and being in sales because you are in front of a customer. You're trying to carry a message and deliver it in an impactful way and connect. I love that I get to use a lot of my passion in acting in sales. I help salespeople communicate as engaging and impactful way as possible when they're in front of customers with some of these techniques. I focus on presentations, demos, and any kind of customer-facing interaction.
Speaking of New York and acting, I remember it was at Sales Experts Presentation in Denver that you had a picture of one of the scenes that you were in. I think it was Sex and the City if I'm not mistaken.
Yes. Good memory.
If technology were enough, we'd all be connecting well on camera.
You had a placeholder in line where you said, “I'm going to be right back.” You had heard the scene was going to be a scene at a funeral. You went home, you put on the all black and you became the unique product, and learn to align the product with the buyer and what the buyer was looking for. Nobody else had that advantage. The parallels between sales and acting are big.
I made it easy for them to see me in the role. That's what we need to do in sales. We need to not make it a challenge where you go, “Is this going to work in my company or not?” There are lots of parallels.
Let's go back one more step to go a little further because it's always interesting when a lot of what we do in life starts when we're kids. I used to be the rope climb expert in elementary school. That was my thing. I beat everyone from 1st through 6th grade. I learned that my skill was being competitive. I hate to lose, love to win, and it's both for me. It's not one or the other. I figured out selling lets you do that and if that's your skill, it's a good fit. If you think back to when you were early childhood days, what was your passion like? What did you love to do that you think might've got you to where you are?
I had that competitive gene as well. Maybe it's playing. I like playing so much that I parlayed it into a career. How do we make things fun and engaging? I got bored easily. I was always trying to liven things up, whether with humor or some kind of interacting with people. That's so much a part of sales. We're not just here to deliver the news.
Take the friction out is almost what I think of when you explain that.
Yes. Make it easy to buy.
Let’s talk about video. I remember at Webex 2005 to 2008. I was there as a Manager and we didn't have video at the time, and then we launched it. I remember talking to the CIO because we were working on some large hundred-thousand-dollar transactions together. I would team sell with our CIO. Most sales representatives at Webex at the time were selling $3,000, $4,000 deals, not $100,000 deals. I'd been an Enterprise Field Seller. I brought him the CIO and he was showing all kinds of charts and graphs. He’s like, “Look what's going on with the advent of video in these meetings. They're more interactive and highly valuable.” Fast forward from 2005 to 2020, I feel like people finally were required to learn the skillset. It’s no longer optional. Is that what you've seen out there?
Yes. People have grudgingly used it over the past several years. When I do presentation classes and we get to talk about remote presentations or demos, I'd always ask these are sellers in enterprise technology. I say, “How many of you use your camera when you're in a remote presentation or demo?” Twenty percent of the room raised their hand. It's like, “Why?” “I don't like the way I look” and all the things that you hear, “I'm not ready,” and it's distracting for them. What's interesting is though everyone has had to adopt it to some extent, I still hear those same excuses. Those fears and insecurities are still there, but it's the best way we have to communicate now. Although I get the sense that some salespeople are holding on, learning just enough what they need to learn until it goes back to normal. I'm not sure that's going to be the case. I don't know what you think.
I would agree. We've been talking with a lot of different executives. Will airplane travel come back to where it was? The thought is in ten years, maybe. Over the foreseeable future, companies can look at it and say, “We learned the new way. We were forced to learn inside sales. It's amazing. We can sell more. We can lower our costs. The customer wants to buy that way anyway.” It's here to stay 100%. It's interesting though. I remember going through that feeling in 2005 or 2006. I remember I go, “I'm Chad, this is my virtual handshake.” That was my thing. I did it every time. I would close it out and I'd say, “We're here to focus on you, Mr./Mrs. Customer. Let's go ahead and whiteboard what you're looking to get out of today.” I would go to their solution-oriented discussion. In today’s world, there's such more of importance. It probably was then too. I was younger. I didn't know better. It's important to build trust. When you can see someone and they're not looking away or their arms are folded, it's a different dialogue when you have video in a web meeting.
There's research that supports that. Gong did some great research that found that demos where salespeople had their camera on close those deals 50% more often than when they didn't have a camera on. Coincidence? I don't know. They looked at about 67,000 salespeople.
Cause and effect, there's probably some level of that.
To your point, that's how we connect as humans. We relate to other people's faces. We get a lot of context from someone's face. We build relationships through eye contact. That's one of the quickest ways to build relationships. There are lots of reasons to leave the camera on.
There’s a good study at the time in 2005 or 2007 when we had that. I'll have to dig that up. It showed the verbal was 12% of the effectiveness. In-person 100%. If you can do video, it's 92%. It's still not 100%, but I would tend to argue that the people who use video well as your training, maybe it's 95% or 97%. My view as a Webex or as a field seller was always, I was a little uncomfortable. I'm not going to lie. When I'm sitting face to face, I had a nervous twitch. Whereas when I have everything at my fingertips, a second screen, whatever notes I want, a note pad of stuff for me to remember, it gives me the superpower where I'm better than if I was meeting in person. That's where some people are getting now. Think of AI running in the side. I don't have it now but there are technologies that'll tell me what questions to ask Julie versus someone else, based on your personality and the AI that read your LinkedIn profile.
Do not try to be somebody you're not on camera.
There are all kinds of behind the scenes support you can have. It can be a little cheat sheet and your notes. To your point, that comes across and it's powerful when you do it well. What companies are starting to find is that they went in immediately during this crisis, and made sure everybody had the platforms, the tools, the cameras, the lights, and know how to use the technology. It's more than the technology. If the technology was enough, we'd all be connecting well on camera. All those calls are not that satisfying. There's an element of technique and soft skills to it that have been completely overlooked as people come in front of the camera and do what they did live.
It was Jill Riley that says, "A fool with a tool is still a fool.”
It's because people don't realize that it is an art. For instance, when I was an actor, and most actors start out in theater because nobody's going to pay you to act right away. You do that for a couple of years. I went to audition for a film role. I got in this audition, they turned the camera on, and I don't know where to look. I couldn't remember my lines. I had to move and it was awkward. I did not get the part, but what I did was I took some on-camera classes that help you get comfortable in front of the camera, learn how to talk to a camera, how to move, how to bring your personality out, how to have enough energy that reads well on camera so that you can be free and be yourself, and focus on the audience or the other person.
Talk to us about that. I see you use your hands from time to time. Maybe that's natural for other people. Maybe it's not. If you were to break down, “These are the 2 or 3 most important things when you're using video in a Zoom meeting or otherwise,” what do you think are the most important things people should think about?
Let's start with ways about hands and gestures. What you don't want to do is try to be somebody you're not on camera. If you're not a gesturer, you don't have to be one. For a lot of people, they use their hands as part of their personality and energy. If you take that away, they become flat and they don't express themselves well. I coach a lot of people. I'm like, “Do you need to use your hands?” “Yes, but I was told not to use them.”
Be your natural self because that's where your energy is coming from.
You have to know your stage and how you're framed. The camera reads things differently. If you go too close to the camera, it's going to look oddly disproportionate. Getting familiar with your stage, being a little slower and more purposeful with your gestures, as opposed to a lot of fast movements. With video, it doesn't read well. That's important. The biggest thing is eye contact. Many people get on and they're looking at someone's image on camera or the image on the screen. To your customer, it feels like you're not paying attention.
When you were looking down, I almost got a feeling and I know otherwise, you start to go, “Are you reading your phone over there?”
Even though you know it, you’re like, “I know because everybody does that.” We're feeling people and our brain doesn't always override that. It’s like, “He's not that into me.”
There's was this famous woman from France. She was an actress in a major play. She was on one of these conference calls and was teaching people how to look in your eyes. Her recommendation I'm sure is similar or the same with yours. I've got the screen crunched up to the top so that if I am looking in your eyes, whereas here's camera, here's eyes, it's such a minor difference that you can't tell. If I'm looking at you and talking to you, I want to look in your eyes to get that comfortableness so I can understand I'm looking your eyes. She said, “If I'm listening, that's where I can look in the camera,” or is it reversed?
You need to do both because you do want to look in the camera when people are talking. If you were talking to me and I was looking down here, you feel like, “She's not paying attention to me.” When you are talking to someone, especially if you have multiple people on the call, it's hard to read body language. What I find is most presenters get sidetracked by seeing somebody look bored. Most people, when they're on a virtual call as an audience member or a customer, they have a passive expression on their face. That is our watching, being in front of our computer face. It's going to look like you're bored out of your mind. That's not what's happening.
If you react to that all the time, you're going to be a nervous wreck. A couple of things you can do is first of all, you can see more with your peripheral vision than people give themselves credit for because we don't use it consciously that much. If you set your screen so that you have the people's images as close to the camera as possible, then while I'm looking at the camera, I can see you nodding. I can see any major movements, or if you smile or frown so I don't need to keep going like this. You want to try and finish a thought to the camera. You don't want to be going, “Chad, I don't know how you feel about AI.” It’s being this back and forth thing.
I saw another person presents on negotiations training. He's got it set up in his house where he's standing at a table. He's got a big screen projector with all the cameras on it. I was like, “Is that how you do it all the time?” He goes, “Yes. I get my energy by standing up.” I think about a lot of the cubes that you would visit these days in offices have the riser. I can't think of a time other than this gentleman that presents standing up like that. Have you seen that done yet much online?
Despite the rampant use of artificial intelligence, only 1% of our toe is dipped in its water.
Yes. I see people do that. I see salespeople sometimes do that. They've got a stand-up desk and that's great. The problem is, sometimes people have little movements when they're standing, because it's harder to stay balanced and planted evenly on two feet. You get little distracting movements. You have to be careful with that. It gives people some energy because we're home and sitting in our comfy chair. The energy goes down. You have to fight that and keep that energy up.
This has been hugely valuable on video. Let's talk on AI. Are you using AI in your sales motion? Do you see other customers using AI? What are your thoughts? It still seems like we're 1% toe dipped into the water.
I see it with customers that are using things like Gong or Chorus, and getting those analytics about what's working and what's not in sales conversations. The messaging is mostly where I hear about it in my line of work. That's interesting. I've seen some great tools that will help analyze, predict, forecast, and many things that you do. What is interesting in the sense of video, since we're talking about that, there is some AI in the works that will track your eye movement and make it look like you are talking to the other person wherever your eyes are, which is a little weird. I'm hearing Microsoft has something they've been working on that's going to be in the Surface Pro X. I haven't seen it. I haven't heard anybody that's tried it.
Do you mean if I look over at this person in the virtual audience, it moves?
It moves your eyes so that they're looking at the camera, wherever the camera is. That's going to be a smooth process. That's a way off but I can see where that would be headed. We've got all this AI that helps analyze messaging, but what about tone of voice? What about movement? What kind of analytics and data can we take from that?
There's a company called Balto Software that goes and listens to the conversation that we're having. Let's say I'm selling for Gong and the word Chorus comes up, it knows and it pops up, “Ask these three questions.” Imagine as the VP of Sales, pushing out a new talk track, a new product, a new objection handling technique to 500 people on a Salesforce. It's neat. Gong, Chorus, and exacqVision, one person called it post-mortem because it is already dead, and then Balto is more in the call.
Another two I'll share that is interesting. I don't know if it's out there yet. It's an app that would be a good self-coaching tool. It’s a bubble that shows you where your eyes are. The problem is as people are learning to make eye contact, they don't realize their eyes get drawn to something on the screen. That can serve as a real time trigger. It will be interesting where this stuff goes.
I appreciate you taking some time out of your day to share some best practices around video, and where you think AI is headed. Before you know it, it will be in 2021.
I know. It’s my pleasure and hopefully, we'll have more to talk about in 2021.
Thank you, Julie.
Thanks, everybody. We'll catch you on the next one.