With lockdown keeping many employees at home, pitching over a digital screen has become the new norm. For salespeople and business development managers who have built their career, reputation and bonuses on successfully building rapport with people across a table, virtual pitching is a whole new ball game.
“It’s hard for some people to successfully translate in-person rapport building over a digital screen. Analysing body language and trying to create presence in a room is redundant when trying to pitch to a person or group of people over a laptop screen. For many, it is near impossible,” said. Jenny Folley. founder and CEO of premium coworking and private office space business, @workspaces
“There are several ways in which you can perfect your next virtual sales pitch, so you’re able to be in control and get your message across in the most efficient and persuasive manner,” Folley said.
9 tips to deliver a great virtual pitch
1. Prepare well for your pitch
“In the new COVID digital environment, it is important to touch base with your potential clients and check who they would like included in your pitch presentation. Once you have clarified this and have their email and phone details, ensure they are invited in the email invite link,” Folley said.
“Ask meeting participants whether they have any hearing or visual needs that you can assist with as part of your presentation. Also check whether they would like to allow time for questions afterwards. This type of preparation shows your potential clients that you are organised, thoughtful and professional.”
2. Neutralise your background
“To help you create a great first impression before you even start to speak, make sure your background is uncluttered and free of any busy distractions, whether that’s a barking dog or a dizzying print on the wall. If your pet insists on being with you while you work, provide toys and food to keep him or her entertained,” Folley added.
“Your potential clients will be able to focus more on what you’re saying, instead of being distracted by what’s going on behind you.”
3. Dress for a successful pitch
“It’s important that you wear what you would normally wear if the meeting was being conducted in the office. Not only does this put you in the right mindset by dressing for success, it also allows you to avoid an awkward moment. For example, if you had to get out of your chair and find a document, and your potential client sees that the bottom half of your outfit isn’t exactly work appropriate,” Folley said.
4. Test everything before your pitch
“There’s nothing worse then logging into Zoom and starting your pitch and then realising that there’s something wrong with your laptop’s audio or Zoom has decided to log you out,” Folley added.
“Make sure you test everything before your meeting, ensure that your laptop is fully charged, your audio quality is proficient and not muted, you are capable of screensharing and your laptop camera works. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
5. Put a sign on your front door
“You would be surprised how many people get deliveries or visitors while they are working from home,” Folley emphasised.
“Put a sign on your front door that provides directions for visitors so you are not interrupted in the middle of your pitch with a doorbell or knocking sound.”
6. Make sure you are early
“Being early to your meeting ensures you are able to fix any last-minute issues that may have suddenly arisen without your potential client realising,” Folley said.
“Not only is it polite to be the first one on the screen so the other person or group of people aren’t waiting, but it also allows you time to get things sorted and gives you space to breathe beforehand.”
7. Eye contact
“While it may be tricky to make direct eye contact with each person on the screen, just make sure that you’re looking at the camera. Try not to look elsewhere outside of the vicinity of the screen as your potential client may consider you to be distracted or unsure of what you’re pitching,” Folley said.
8. Keep your slides concise
“While PowerPoint slides are a great addition to your pitch, be careful not to overwhelm your audience with too much information,” Folley added.
“Cluttered slides can distract people and they may not be fully aware of the material you’re trying to convey verbally, as they are too busy trying to keep up with the slides. Again, practice uploading documents and sharing your screen prior to the meeting to ensure things go smoothly during the pitch.”
9 . Practice
“While you can plan all you want, practicing your pitch is vital in order for you to be successful. Whether that’s in front of a friend over Zoom, your partner or dog, make sure you’re completely confident in your presentation. This will help to ensure everything goes well,” Folley said.
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