Difficult circumstances, such as those we are living in right now with the spread of coronavirus, can also present opportunities to improve our business practices. As we rapidly move to a remote workforce, many of us are facing challenges keeping our clients and customers engaged. However, the challenge of engagement is not isolated to our current conditions. Instead, this is an opportunity to think long-term about the value of building virtual relationships, especially for Sales and Client Services organizations.
It’s important to remember that for these types of organizations, relationships with customers and clients should not be restricted to only in-person meetings. These relationships are also virtual, and under current conditions, it is becoming increasingly so. More than ever leaders need to be creative about influencing their customers and clients from a distance. I have identified a few important strategies to help you nurture those virtual relationships during this difficult time and beyond.
Virtual Influence Strategies:
1. Stay Top of Mind and Influence In-Between In Person Meetings
- To avoid information overload during infrequent in-person meetings, you should create a deliberate plan to influence clients in-between those meetings. Saving up all your influencing, ideas, and asks for in-person meetings reduces the value and impact you bring to your client.
- Instead, take the initiative to communicate in-between face-to-face meetings so that you can stay top of mind as a thought-leader ongoing. This approach will also enable you to proactively adjust your plans as your customers’ plans change so that your content is continuously relevant.
2. Use Video to Influence and Maintain Relationships:
- This might be different from some traditional strategies that you’re familiar with, but as technology has evolved, so should our best business practices.
- Video content is a powerful tool to influence your customers. There are several online video conferencing services that you can leverage to recreate the feeling of an in-person meeting and maintain communication and relationships with your clients. This includes tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, and BlueJeans.
- Start with a tech check. Do NOT try a new technology and cover content in the same meeting. You will lose your audience’s patience before you even get started with content if there are tech issues.
- Instead of regular emails make your messages more memorable with “Video-Mail”. You can get creative with free tools such as Loom that enable you to share your screen and record yourself. Loom will even track views so you will be able to tell if your customer actually watched the communication or not.
3. Stay on the Literal “Same Page” as Your Customers and Clients:
- As we communicate and work virtually, to be effective you must be creative to cut through the clutter and everyone’s overflowing inboxes. A customer is always happy when they are kept in the loop on progress against goals. And what better way to do that than by showing them.
- Leverage workflow tools such as Asana, Microsoft Teams, Kanbantool, and Monday.com to allow a common area for your internal team and your client team to keep an eye on progress against goals and project timelines in an organized and efficient fashion.
Whichever technique you choose, and it should be a variety of them, choose to be committed to it. It might be tempting to fall back into old habits as we return to “normal” routines in the coming months, but you would be selling yourself short. These unexpected circumstances are a great opportunity to implement new communication strategies that will boost your client relationships both now and in the future.
Contact us to find out how you can bring our Influencing Across Distance workshop to your organization. The output of the workshop is for all participants to create their own Personal Virtual Influence Plan. All workshops are done via video conferencing.