Digital Body language - Sales and Service in our Virtual World

As we transition to a world where virtual sales, marketing, and engagement are the norms rather than the exception, sales professionals are realizing that there is an intangible missing factor without in-person body language.


One client of mine once recently complained about her sales rep in a virtual world. During video meetings, he just couldn’t read the clients’ cues. He seemed blind to her facial gesture, had bad eye contact, and overlooked any number of micro-facial expressions that would have told him he was going seriously off-track to the point he risked losing the client. He commonly used “so” to begin thoughts and sentences, an almost real-life mirror of ongoing, never-ending text threads instead of professional spoken conversation. 


Understanding and reading what I call “Digital Body Language” is critical for any sales professional who wants to compete and succeed in our increasingly virtual world. 


How do we as sales professionals build trust in a virtual world? In this blog, I will introduce the three tips to improve your Digital Body Language and win (instead of lose) sales in our modern marketplace. 


Be Tone-Deft, not Tone-Deaf 

Tone––the overall attitude, or character, of a message––is a key skill for any successful sales professional. Perhaps more than anything else, it’s the greatest tool for communicating empathy and winning trust. So when you’re prospecting new clients or customers through emails and other written communications, be thoughtful to ensure you avoid confusing one-liners and always reference details in your communications. 


If someone sends you a longer email debriefing about a virtual meeting, respond to specific components of the email rather than sending back a blanket response. It shows that you put in the time to really read through the other person’s time and thinking. Use bullet points and bold heading to improve how your prospect reads your message visually.


And proofread your emails before sending them. Take advantage of spell-check and other proofreading programs. Proofreading is both a habit and a skill. Making it a point of pride to send clean, unambiguous copy will help people take what you write more seriously.


Invite your existing customers to “share” on a video call with your prospects

One of the unique opportunities our digital shift has unlocked is the ability to invite existing loyal customers to “Zoom in” for 5 minutes to share their experience with an prospect in a conversation. This would likely not have happened in the traditional coffee chat sales conversation. Use the opportunities that our digital shift has unlocked to share pre-call videos, invite customers to sales meetings or use virtual video demos to make a lasting impression in the sales process. 


Slow down - Don’t rush your answers.

In the virtual sales process, our impatience levels are higher than ever. We may wrap up meetings faster than we should or present in bullet points but lack the substance our prospect needs to make a decision. But the reality is less haste = more speed. Responding quickly matters, but the pressure to communicate too quickly can cause mistakes that you can’t take back. 


And when you don't have an answer, don’t respond for the sake of responding if you don’t have something substantive to offer. If you are having one of those days where you can’t give thoughtful attention to a client or prospect’s email, send a quick reply acknowledging you received it, and let them know that you plan to respond to it at greater length as soon as possible. 


Lacking cues like eye contact, tone of voice, or body language to clarify what another person means makes digital selling challenging. Slowing down and using good digital body language is crucial for salespeople who want to see their companies excel in our fast-changing world. 

Erica Dhawan is a leading expert on 21st-century teamwork, sales, innovation, and collaboration. She is an award-winning keynote speaker and the author of the new book Digital Body Language.

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