Let’s face it. The pandemic hit the travel industry hard. Many of us felt a bit like Wile E. Coyote on the receiving end of an anvil. And just when we thought…the end was in sight, out comes the dynamite. It’s been a tough two years.
One of the positives of spending so much time in lockdown is that video consultations have become the new norm. Even clients who normally struggled with tech have had no choice but to figure it out. And this is great news. Because Zoom meetings, if done correctly, can be very efficient AND it allows us to sell far outside of our geographic location.
However, as with anything, getting the hang of mastering a new skill, like video consultations, takes a bit of nuance and practice. You may not even be aware that these challenges exist. You might think it’s as easy as turning on your camera and starting to talk. And if that’s true, you might be making a few mistakes that could be costing you business.
Video consultations will never be able to build the same rapport as a face-to-face meeting. Mostly because the majority of our communications are in our body language. Over video, our clients are limited to what they can see.
Here are five things you can try to help build trust and confidence over video.
1. Move back from the camera
According to Vanessa Van Edwards, in her new book, “Cues, Master the Art of Charismatic Communication, there are 4 realms of space that exist between people when it comes to communication.
The Intimate Zone: This is the area up-close, up to a foot and a half away, that we reserve for our closest intimate relationships.
The Social Zone: The social zone is between a foot and a half and as far out as maybe 4 feet.
The Personal Zone: This is an area you may keep between yourself and others in a boardroom meeting.
The Public Zone: This is the distance between you and someone across the room.
In North America, most of our interactions where we want to influence others take place in the social zone. This is the most natural space between two people and it’s the distance that most people find the most comfortable.
The problem with video consultations is that many of us, have our cameras positioned too close to our faces. This is unnatural even though the person speaking may be miles away, it can be off-putting to be so close to the camera. Often, people won’t realize that this is why the communication felt stilted and unnatural. So, before your next video consultation, be sure to back away from the camera a bit.
Further, it’s important to note that people tend to feel more comfortable when someone gradually walks up to us to initiate conversation meaning, crossing into the social zone from the personal zone usually elicits the best results. In video conferencing, this gradual warming is lost.
2. Use your hands
The use of hand gestures, if done effectively, can have a very positive impact on everyday real-time communications.
Yet when it comes to video communications, sometimes we either forget we have hands or we are so darn close to the camera that our hands aren’t in focus anyway.
Using your hands as you speak helps to convey trustworthiness and authority. You don’t want to go over the top but try these small tricks the next time you get on a call with a client.
- Wave at them to initiate the conversation. Just a quick hand up prior to speaking creates a likeability factor
- Clasp your hands together in a steeple position – remember the nursery rhyme…
Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people.
This positioning of the hands, especially when you bring the steeple up to your lips, can indicate deep listening and is an effective way to show your clients you are carefully listening to what they say.
- Use hand movements to help with your descriptions. Again, you don’t want to go so over the top, like some mad Italian. These gestures will help build trust and convey your message more effectively.
If you happen to catch any of Prime Minister Trudeau’s press conferences, you’ll note that he uses his hands a lot when speaking behind a podium. Despite the challenge of addressing the nation from behind a dais, he’ll often have his hands moving in tandem to his speech. And at the very least, they are always visible to the camera.
3. Use more voice intonations
While it’s always a good idea to change up your tone when speaking with clients, it is even more important when speaking over video because again you don’t necessarily have the full benefit of all other non-verbal communication tools at your disposal.
A few things to try…
- Increase your volume – a higher volume shows confidence.
- Slow down your speech
- Use dramatic Pauses – Try placing a pause right before you deliver good news.
“ I wasn’t able to confirm the hotel you originally asked for but I found you something even better….PAUSE….”
- Careful not to end your sentences with uptalk. – Sounding like a Valley girl decreases your credibility and can make you sound weak and unsure. You may not even be aware you are doing this, so recording your consultations and watching them back might catch this for you.
- Lower the overall register of your tone
This can be tricky so if you are used to speaking at your highest pitch, you’ll need to practice. Having a lower vocal sound also promotes trust and likeability.
4. Mirroring and using the nod in agreement
You’ve probably heard that mirroring your client can help build rapport, however, when you are on video, this isn’t as easy to do. They too might be so close to their camera that you don’t get to see a lot of their body language. So, at the very least, if you aren’t able to mirror their movements, try nodding indiscernibly.
This will automatically leave them with the impression that you are an agreeable person without making them feel weird.
5. Prep some good icebreakers
Often, when we meet clients face to face, it’s natural for travel advisors to offer a cup of coffee or tea as a welcoming gesture to help set the tone and build rapport.
Video does not grant the same advantage. As such, consider prepping some clever icebreakers to help set the tone of the consultation. Draw out this part of the consultation a little
in order to create a level of comfort for your client. Have some questions prepared ahead of time and if you can make them laugh, even better.
Prior to the pandemic, it was common to field calls from clients by phone only but now that video conferencing is so accessible, I would just send a zoom link in anticipation of that type of interaction. Having the opportunity to see your clients’ non-verbal cues will give you the feedback necessary to help you anticipate their questions and ultimately help you close the sale more efficiently.
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