Okay, so welcome to another one of my Todd Talks, which always exists to equip you with ideas you can use immediately to advance your leadership, make a greater difference in the world, and help other people do the same. And today, I’ll talk about how to create deep connections with our customers and clients, even when we’re stuck interacting with them virtually. And I’ll start by sharing the story of Diana, a key account manager, because it holds a counterintuitive lesson for all of us on how we can counter the disconnecting and depersonalizing pull of the virtual world.
And here’s what Diana had to say in her own words, “I’m very personable by nature. And when meeting with customers in person, I never had a problem connecting and asking them challenging questions. During the Breakthrough Selling program, I had a surprising realization; that the virtual environment had really dented my confidence, and that I’d been asking theoretical and soft questions to my customers. This was a big problem because I joined the company during the pandemic, and so all of my interactions with clients had been virtual. I wasn’t truly connecting and my conversations weren’t having an impact.” I think this is something that we can all relate to, I certainly can. Because even when we’re on a good video call, it’s very hard to tell how people are feeling about what you’ve said, or when their attention has gone elsewhere, or if maybe they want to say something about what you just said.
That’s because we’re getting access to a much smaller percentage of people’s nonverbal cues, which make up a huge portion of human communication when we’re not in the same room together. And I want to read you a great quote from a Doctor Elizabeth Keating, who’s a linguistic anthropologist, that’s a cool job, at the University of Texas who said, “The nuances of non-verbal communication that are present in face-to-face conversations are not conveyed through virtual settings.” And you can read that in a journal called the American Scientist, article title, Why Do Virtual Meetings Feel So Weird? And I’ll put a link to that article in the chat so you can learn a little bit more. So it just makes sense that one would feel a little less comfortable in a virtual setting.
Okay, so let’s get back to Diana. “And because of this realization, I stopped asking safe questions, and instead started asking the kind of direct questions about my customer’s perspectives, and their personal experiences with our product and our customer’s product, during virtual meetings. Much to my surprise, we’re connecting a lot better. They’re opening up to me and I’m learning valuable information that’s helping me figure out how I can be of greater service to them, how I can help them solve their problems. I’m behaving much more like my real self and I’m feeling a lot more confident. This has enabled me to convert a key decision maker and thought leader at a key account and renowned institution in my country, from a critic to a real advocate for our product. And in the first quarter alone, he placed four orders, where there had been none the entire year before, which has resulted in over $1.5 million in new revenue.” Okay, I love this story because I love helping and hearing about people who get their confidence back.
Life knocks us all down at some point, but Diana got back up and because of the kind of product that she sells, she’s now making a much greater difference in the world as a result. I think Diana’s amazing story also holds at least a reminder for all of us on how we tend to react in overprotective ways, and novel situations, because the data demonstrates that Dana didn’t need to play it so safe. In fact, the things that made her so successful in the pre-virtual world, her authenticity, her compassion, her desire to serve her customers, her vulnerability, were the exact things that she needed to do more of in the virtual setting. So if we really want to connect and have an impact, in what can feel like a depersonalizing virtual world, perhaps the thing that we most need to do is dial up, not down, our humanity.
Okay, so thanks for listening. I hope you found this valuable, and I look forward to talking to you next time. But if for some reason you can’t wait, and you’d like to talk to me or someone on my team, you can do that by clicking on the red Let’s Talk button on the top right corner of our website. But in the meantime, be candid, be collaborative, be compassionate, but most of all, be curious.