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Tom Drews is the CEO and founder of What Works! Communications. He helps sales people to design and deliver effective virtual sales presentations so that they can beat the competition and close more business. We are presenting Tom’s information in a series of blogs. Today, in part two, he talks about the five most common mistakes people make when selling (or persuading) online. Part one previews is Tips for Selling Online and part two features the Five Most Common Mistakes Made Selling Online. You can listen to the entire WebEx event here.

In today’s final look at Tom Drew’s advice, we have summarized his 10 Best Practices. While still in his voice, this is a high-level summary of his talk. If you watch the recording, you can see his visual examples that support these ideas.

When you are hosting an online meeting, the chances of you losing the attention of your audience are very high. Getting your attendees attention and keeping them engaged is the key to success when selling online.

Selling online requires an entire set of new skills. Here are my top ten with the hopes this will help you beat the competition and close more business. You can get a copy of Tom’s 28 Best Practices on his website here.

#1: Deliver Value

This is important if you are inside, outside, in-person or online. You must deliver value to the customer. This is the top mistake I see people make when consult. Sales people need to listen 90% of the time and talk 10% of the time. Most sales folks make the mistake of doing all the talking. Go through a discovery process, identify needs and then you can deliver value.

#2: Discovery Process

Ask questions. Not just any questions but the right questions in the right flow. Start with a broad question -- the situation -- and typically they prospect will explain problems they have and problems they didn’t realize they have. Then uncover problems only you can solve. Then you can uncover the impact on their business and start focusing on their needs. If you are brave, also ask “what will it take for us to work together?”

#3: Structure (for the online discussion)

Often people start with an agenda or talking with themselves and this is a mistake. Instead, I use a WhatWorks! Fishbone Template. Most people remember the first two minutes and last two minutes of what you say so a “grabber opening” is very important. (See more on the structure here.)

#4: Keep It Simple

Look at your current slides. How long would it take you to read them? We are naturally designed to read what’s in front of us. This is a huge problem. 95% of presos have way too much information. Instead, simplify the text; include some dramatic visuals to help make the point. You don’t want your audience reading ahead of you. The goal is to avoid Death By PowerPoint. Want to see a good, simple presentation? Google “Steve Jobs” and watch him speak to amazing slides.

#5: Add Hollywood

Think about how movies tie together visuals to tell a story. We need to use those same principles in putting together a good story online. You have many tools to help do this -- use a photo of yourself to make a connection and make things personal. If you can use a web cam, do that! It doesn’t hurt to use humor via visuals. My favorite resource is iStockPhoto.com.

#6: Voice

When we present in person, we can connect with our eyes, facial expression and movement. But when we are presenting online, we have the visual and our voice. We need to make the most of it. Volume is very important, pace, and distractions (ums, aahs, etc.) need to be eliminated. Avoiding monotone is key and smile -- people can tell when you are smiling. Use pauses for dramatic effect. Enthusiasm is important.

Articulation is important -- a global audience may not understand everything you are saying if you speak too quickly or slur your words together. Practice by recording yourself -- WebEx lets you do this. Don’t use speakerphones or cell phones. I recommend a landline with a headset. Moreover, don’t be afraid to stand and deliver. It makes a difference.

#7: Interact Often

In person, it’s easy to interact with other. But online it’s harder to do. With WebEx, you can use annotation tools -- like the highlighter -- to draw attention to what you want people to see. Build in conversation; ask questions. Address people by their first name. It works because everyone else pays attention waiting for you to call on them by name.

#8: Avoid Technology Disasters

Start your meeting early and load your documents. Make sure everything is ready to go and running smoothly. I use two computers for important meetings. My first view is what I am presenting and my second view is from an attendee point of view -- it helps me understand what they are seeing. I have actually set up a third computer as a backup host if I am afraid something might go wrong.

#9: Accountability

This happens near the end of the presentation. At the end, I like to open up a next steps document and via WebEx document sharing, I complete it live, during the meeting and then send it out as a follow-up document. I write down the next steps I need to take and the steps my prospect needs to take. This can dramatically shorten the sales cycle.

#10: Differentiate Yourself

Lady Gaga has done a great job creating differentiation. She stands out from the crowd. This about how you can separate yourself from the competition. The best way I know to do that is to create value for your prospects.

Want more tips for selling smart? We’ll have a new series on using social media to sell more starting next week! Watch this space!

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1 Comments.


  1. Good stuff Tom. #9 – Accountability. Depending on your target audience, you shouldn’t be afraid to invite action immediately. Send them to a web page to either comment, download something, or to signup for a time sensitive discount on a product or service.

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