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Video Techniques for Improved Virtual Selling

July 7, 202248:20

Virtual selling requires an entirely new skill set. Without strong video skills, salespeople miss on opportunities to connect. This week’s episode features Julie Hansen, Author of Look Me in the Eye: Using Video to Build Relationships with Customers, Partners, and Teams. Listen as she shows us how to apply the proven video techniques used in film, television, and broadcasting, to the practicalities of selling in a virtual world.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

AW:

Hi, everyone, it’s April, your host of the From Hello, to Yes podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today. Today’s guest is Julie Hansen. Julie helps salespeople apply the proven video techniques used in film, television, and broadcasting to the practicalities of selling in a virtual world, because none of us planned on being on the camera every day, but here we are. So Julie is exceptional in helping us accept our camera presence as a craft, just as a director would. I love how she helps break down the broken virtual communication loop, and how messaging, interpretation, and feedback in a virtual environment is everything. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “the eyes tell all”, and Julie goes into great detail about the power of eye contact, including exactly where we should look when we’re on camera. The episode is essentially your guide on how to stop struggling to connect with your customers over video and go back to closing more sales. Enjoy my conversation with Julie.

Julie, thank you so much for joining us today. How are you today?

JH:

I am great. Wonderful to be here with you, April.

AW:

One of the things we focus on From Hello, to Yes is the importance of all of us learning together in this ever changing world of marketing and sales. And we have a saying that none of us is as smart as all of us, so we want to be a place where all marketing and sales people come out, but also the next generation. So to that end, I’d love to start by looking at you as you sit today in a place of being a leader in this virtual sales space. Think back to when your career started, and what would the Julie of today say to the 20-something-year-old Julie?

JH:

I would have a lot to say to that girl. But in terms of our focus here today, I would probably say, “Just step up. Don’t wait until you have permission, don’t wait until you have all the information.” When I first started in sales, I had a manager who used to say, “You can’t spend this much time on every deal.” I would almost prepare to the point where I could be hired by the company. I felt so knowledgeable about them and our products and everything else, and that was only where I felt comfortable enough to then be an advisor, and it’s not a sustainable model. He was like, “You have to have more balls in the air,” which means you have to get more comfortable with that uncertainty and a certain amount of not knowing. And one thing that I did that really helped me with that, and we’ll talk about, I worked as an actor in addition to sales, but was improv. I took some improv classes, which is all about operating in the unknown.

And certainly in sales, you don’t know. Even when you think you know, you don’t know. There’s so much we don’t know. And just realizing that’s part of it, and you have to trust that you will meet the situation the best you can, and that nobody knows it all, there isn’t somebody that’s going in just totally prepared, and rising to the occasion.

AW:

That’s so good. And I think, Julie, it’s one of the things that endeared me to you so quickly is when you found there was a struggle in sales, you went to improv, not a normal dotted line, to figure that out, but it’s where you sit today. And in your recent book, Look Me In the Eye, which I have right here, it says, “Using video to build relationships with customers, partners, and teams,” how incredibly timely, as we all sit here. Your dedication in the front of the book said, “To all the salespeople, business leaders, and entrepreneurs who never set out for a life on camera, may this book make your journey more enjoyable and more rewarding in every way.” And that, I think, summed it up. You had me at that moment, because we did not sign up for this for sure.

JH:

No, of course not.

AW:

And it really was hard to focus in for me today on what to chat about. Every single page of your book, I had highlights and things I was saying like, “Okay, I do that one pretty well. Oh, I don’t do that well,” and there were so many “aha” moments for me. So why don’t we start with you sharing about why you felt called to write this book.

JH:

Hmm. It was a powerful calling because, as I mentioned, I worked as an actor while I was in sales and while I was in sales management, and I had the benefit of learning on camera skills, and it was only because I went from being a stage actor, which is how most actors start out, which is very much like face-to-face sales, right? You can see your audience, you can see your scene partner, you can feel with the energy and thrive on that.

AW:

Sure.

JH:

And when I went into my first audition for a small film, I went in there and I just did the same thing I did live and they were like, “Whoa, whoa, stop. What are you doing?” Right? And of course I did not get that part, but I did take some on camera acting classes, which is the only way I was able to work on camera.

And so that’s just a natural path for people in performance, because they know this is a new medium. You can’t do the same things you did in the old medium and expect to get the same results. And so when the pandemic struck and I saw everybody racing to video, and I applaud everyone for their efforts and courage in doing that because a lot of people were really resistant, but I saw people struggling with the same things I did without any of the tools that I had been privy to. And so everybody’s trying to figure it out on their own, their manager’s saying, “Well, just turn on the camera. Here’s a good camera, here’s a microphone, go. Connect with people, build a relationship.” That’s not how it works. We’re missing all these fundamental steps of, how do you communicate with someone through a camera in a way that makes them feel as if you’re right there? So that was really the challenge that I was addressing.

And after working with 1,000 sales people on coaching calls, virtually, and hearing more of their struggles, the book came out of all those questions like, “Well, what if I’ve got two screens and I need to look at one? How do I look at the camera? What if my audience… Nobody says anything, how do I interact with them?” So it really is, like you said, there’s a lot in there, because I’m trying to address just all the questions that salespeople have that there really has not been an answer to, that’s by anyone who has worked on camera.

AW:

No, there’s not. There’s a lot of answers, like you said, from someone who just says, “Grab a mic and a camera and go,” that is certainly the answer.

JH:

Right.

AW:

And we are living in a time where virtual relationships and building virtual relationships is no longer a nice to have skillset, it really is a must have. And you start out your book speaking about the missing building blocks of virtual relationships, can you share with us… You said there’s five missing qualities that are happening in video that we have to overcome.

JH:

Yeah, I think it’s interesting. We’ve been trying to build relationships virtually, and changing our messaging, like what do we need to say? How do we need to talk to our customer to make them feel connected? Without understanding the fundamental reasons that people go into a relationship or what helps us to connect with people. And relationship experts say that there’s just some qualities that need to be present before a relationship is ever going to take place, before you can have that conversation and say that great message. And those are things like being trustworthy, like showing credibility, being a good listener, being interested in someone, expressing empathy, being authentic. And once those qualities are met, then that makes a relationship possible, right?

The problem is that those qualities are very differently expressed on video. And it’s either because of the way the camera reads things, or magnifies things, doesn’t see certain things, which means your customer doesn’t see it, or it’s just the way we act on camera, it’s not aligned with how we’re trying to express ourself, it’s not aligned with our intentions. So for instance, to express… When you feel like someone is listening to you, think about what that means. That probably means they’re looking at you, right? I mean, if you and I were sitting across from each other having coffee and you were expressing, sharing your biggest problems with me, and I was looking at my phone, you’d probably think, “Gee, Julie. She doesn’t seem that interested,” or, “She’s not listening,” right? And we do the equivalent of that every call on video when we’re looking at our screen or we’re looking down or we’re looking elsewhere. And so we don’t understand how what we’re doing is being received by our customer, so those things are just often lost on video.

And expressing trustworthiness, that is something… We’ve honed these skills in-person for years, we’ve honed our face-to-face skills, and we just haven’t gotten down how we need to adapt on camera. To build trust, that also stems from eye contact. There’s research that shows that we tend to feel people are more honest if they’re looking us in the eye, they’re more confident, they’re more friendly. Also if we show our hands, like when we see someone’s hands, we associate that with openness. And we don’t see a lot of hands on camera or if we do, they’re very fleeting or they’re too fast, and they’re more distracting than supportive of what we’re saying. Those little nuances that we used to be able to hear when people would express that they’re interesting, like the small nods or the, “Huh? Hmm,” those are often lost just because of the nature of the microphone and we don’t pick up some of those little movements. So we have to adapt to express those relationship building qualities on video.

AW:

And you talk about that, that we are just so used to what happens in in-person communication, all that you said. It would be mind boggling to be speaking to someone and have their head down. It would be like–

JH:

We wouldn’t put up with it, we’d be like, “I’m never going to talk to that person again if they don’t care about me.”

AW:

No.

Absolute no, right? Absolute no. And you share the three different stages in the broken virtual communication loop. You talk about message breakdown, interpretation breakdown, and feedback breakdown. Can you give us a little bit on what’s happening there?

JH:

Right.

Sure. It’s part of that natural communication loop process that takes place all the time. We don’t think about it in terms of how it works, but at its basic essence, I say something, you interpret it, you give me feedback by either your body language or something you say, and then I respond to that. So it’s kind of this ongoing loop. Well, what happens virtually is it breaks down at different stages. Either I communicate something, I think I’m communicating something, but I’m actually not communicating it. For instance, I’m communicating that I’m really interested in you, but I’m looking at my screen or I’m looking at my desk, right? So your interpretation is, “Gee, she’s not that interested,” so you don’t respond, or you respond in a way that’s kind of like, “Well…” Give me very little to work with, and so I think, “Oh gosh, she’s bored, I better speed up or jump to something else.”

It’s this miscommunication that happens over and over because we’re not sending the cues that we think we are, or we’re not getting the feedback that we’re expecting. And even if I sent the right… If I looked at you and I said something that was interesting, and I look at your face, virtually, and I see that you look very stoic, very unmoved by that, I might panic. And that’s because I don’t understand necessarily that behavior on screen can be very different than it is in person, that people are not as expressive, that I’m not going to get a lot of that body language that I’m used to in-person.

So again, those breakdowns happen all the time. If we don’t know they’re coming or we don’t have a way to handle them, we can get really derailed by that, and that’s very hard for any type of business or relationship to move forward from.

AW:

Yeah, it is a huge challenge, I think, for all of us. Me, today, talking to you, others that are listening, you can feel the pit in your stomach, because you’ve been a recipient of everything you’re talking about, or we’ve done it ourselves, right?

JH:

Right.

AW:

But I found it really interesting that you discourage us from being natural on camera. Talk about why that is.

JH:

Well, it’s not that I discourage you from being natural. The problem is that most people associate being natural with being comfortable. And if I’m striving to be comfortable, I am not going to come across well on camera, and here’s why. Because the camera reads… It reads a lot of things, but it can’t read energy very well. So it already takes away a certain amount of your energy, and here we are at home, maybe in our comfy chair, and so we’re already a little lower energy, and then we go, “Well, I just want to be natural. I just want to be myself,” and then our energy gets low, our voice gets very flat, our face doesn’t reflect much. So it’s not the best spot to communicate from.

What we want to think about is the natural you, but you at a heightened state, like you in the midst of a conversation with someone about something that you’re really passionate about, that’s the type of energy you want to bring. And in terms of being natural, maybe that’s not natural, like where you feel in the moment, but you need to get there. You need to be able to get yourself in that high energy state in order to communicate at your best. And so being natural on camera means using parts of yourself, but we have to be a little more intentional about it.

AW:

You talk about a word, “smeaking”?

JH:

Yes.

AW:

Define that for us and why we should master the art of that when connecting with our clients online.

JH:

Yeah, so smeaking is a fabricated word that I made up, and if you haven’t guessed, it’s smiling plus speaking. And first of all, if you go on any virtual call or meeting, if you look around, there will be probably a 99% chance that no one is smiling, right? It’s the rarest expression you will see in a virtual meeting, and it’s so powerful. We are more expressive when we’re in-person, and that’s part of what happens when we get in front of a screen or in front of a camera. But if you think of in terms of if you are communicating to your customer, your prospect, and you’re on screen and your face is roughly, in this environment, about 50%, maybe, of the space that’s taken up by your face. And your face is what they are connecting with. We used to use our whole body, our energy, everything in-person to really express ourselves. Now we have this, right? The shoulders up, maybe some hand gestures, but this is it, folks, and your face should support what you’re saying.

I hear a lot of salespeople that will say, “This is going to save you $100,000,” and their face is the same expression as if they asked you to pass the salt; and if I had the sound off, I wouldn’t know if that was good or bad news from their face. It’s like we have done a disservice to salespeople by really teaching them to talk and communicate in this toned down business mode, I call it, presentation mode. And that does not serve you on video, because if your face has nothing to say, I would say, “Why are you on video? What is your face doing if it is not supporting your communication?”

So one of those ways to support it is to find places to smile. And then instead of these fleeting smiles, I see the occasional smile at the beginning, like, “Hi, great to see you. Okay, now let’s get down to business.” A smile that you hold while you’re speaking until you’re ready to talk about something else, or the tone or the intention changes, is really powerful. I mean, smiles are… We associate that person with being friendly and confident and approachable. So I always say, “Look for places to smile,” and then hang onto that smile, don’t be so quick to let it go, because oftentimes they’re so fast that your audience never sees it, right? We think we’re smiling, and then it’s gone before they even notice.

AW:

And it’s so important, because we will have marketing and salespeople on the podcast, but for sales people in particular, they are now trying to meet someone for the first time on video, talk to them about what they’re doing. And so if they’re missing any of what you’re talking about, we don’t get a second chance; you get a first chance to make a first impression and, unfortunately, it’s on video.

JH:

Right.

AW:

So you give some examples of psyching yourself up, getting yourself ready before you go into a big presentation. Talk us through a couple of those.

JH:

Sure. Like I said, you have to get in that peak state before the camera goes on, and this is something I learned as an actor. And every performer, and every athlete, musician, anybody learns this, you can’t be in your peak state the minute the camera goes on, you can’t expect to jump to that level, it doesn’t happen, or the curtain goes up, you have to work up to it. And what I see a lot of salespeople do is they start the call and then they kind of warm up to their audience, and then about a couple minutes in they kind of hit their stride, but that’s too late. That’s too late for a lot of people, especially if you’re sending a video, nobody’s going to watch those first two minutes. And if they’re on the call, they’re forming that first impression of you and it may not be favorable, and so you’re going to have to work really hard to overcome that.

So getting yourself in that peak state is vital. A couple ways… I think it’s a combination of both physical, so that physical warmup, because it is difficult to sit in this space, to communicate in the confines of this screen that we have, and not get tight and tense, and you’re in front of a camera so there’s a certain tenseness that that can trigger, or nervousness, and so we have to work against that. And if you go backstage or before a shoot when actors are preparing to go on camera, they’re shaking it out, they’re stretching, they’re warming, they’re vocalizing, they’re exercising all their muscles; because what you want to do is you want to keep that energy flowing. And if you get very stiff, then you get stiff and it tends to make you more nervous as well.

So getting that physical warm up, and then also just getting mentally and emotionally to your peak state, thinking about, “Why am I on this call? How can I help this person?” There’s a great quote from an acting coach that I had, said, “Energy is the direct result of how much you care about something.” So it’s very hard to generate energy out of nothing, you have to care about something. So hone in on, what do you care about, right? Am I passionate about what I’m talking about? Am I excited about the opportunity to meet this person and share something that might help them?

You have to be very, very clear on that because one thing that the camera does is it’s very clear on your intentions. I always say, “The camera is a lie detector,” so if you’re faking it… A lot of people are like, “Well, I just fake it a little bit.” The camera’s pretty good at picking up when you’re not in sync with your intentions, so being very aligned with what I hope to accomplish and my feelings is very important on camera.

AW:

I love that. And the connection, especially, is to remember why you’re doing this, and what you can do for them, and care. And I think for so many of us, Julie, not only are we on Zoom now and selling, when we weren’t doing that before, but we’re on it all the time, back to back to back. And one of the pieces of advice I remember reading in your book, which was so good, is take a few minutes and look through your presentation and go over-the-top-excited, ridiculous delivery of it.

JH:

Yeah.

AW:

And then you’ll come in and you’ll probably come in right at the level you’re supposed to, and that just made me giggle.

JH:

Right.

AW:

I thought, “If we could just be…” I’d love to do some videos of people sending them in of over-the-top deliveries of these, that energy, as opposed to one Zoom to the next Zoom, and not giving ourselves enough space to really step in and have the energy that shows we care and that we’re in it. So just some really, really great tips.

JH:

Yeah, that’s a great. And what’s funny about that is I’ll oftentimes… And it is a great quick energizer, just to take your presentation and just make it a song, make it as if you’re reading it to a kid, like, “And then, we’re going to talk about this,” and just like you would never do in real life, right? But it breaks you of some of that woodenness that tends to happen when we get stuck in a rut, and just loosens you up, so it’s great.

But oftentimes, it’s funny when I’ll ask people to do that exercise when they’re a little stiff on their presentation or it needs more energy, I’ll say, “Just go bigger than you think is necessary, like ridiculously big over-the-top,” and they’ll go, “Okay.” And then they do, and if I have other people on the call, I’ll say, “Well, what did you think? Was that too big?” And they’re like, “No, that was perfect.” Sometimes what we think is too big is often, like you said, just that sweet spot. So I suggest you do it, record it, and send it to somebody and ask them, because you need to find what that sweet spot is for you; and it may feel way outside of your comfort zone, but that might be where you’re really reaching and connecting with your audience.

AW:

My team is going to be so excited that you gave this homework assignment. Next week. I think it’s brilliant. I think it’s so smart.

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AW:

One of the things I find the most difficult while being on a virtual call is knowing where to look, and you talk about this.

JH:

Yes.

AW:

I am an eye contact person. If you are in-person with me and you’re speaking to me or we’re having dinner together, I am looking you in the eye. But for me, when you have especially multiple people on the screen, when I read, you’re reminding us that the camera is the eye, even if the person we’re talking to is down on our screen. So give us some tips, anything you have, for what often feels like this eye diverting everywhere as we try to figure out where the heck we’re supposed to look.

JH:

Yes, yes, it’s very counterintuitive. And listen, if it was enough for somebody to tell you to look at the camera, then we’d all be doing it, we’d all be seeing much better eye contact than we are.

AW:

Right.

JH:

But obviously, it’s very difficult. It’s simple but it’s not easy. And so that’s one of the things that that’s why I have a chapter on it in the book, because it’s a challenge. We have to overcome a lot of wiring that we’ve done over the years. But there are some ways to make it easier. And so first it is to recognize that the only way your customer feels connected to you is when you are looking at the camera.

Because if we were in-person and you weren’t looking me in the eye, I’d still know you’re there, and I’d know you’re in the conversation because I see you maybe looking at a picture or my hands; I see the context. I get no context on virtual other than when you are connected with me. So we have to keep that in mind; whether you think it’s silly or not, that is a fact. And your customers or your prospect is not going to make excuses for you. They’re not going to say, “Oh, well, I bet she’s looking at me, but she’s just looking at her screen.” They’re not. They don’t have any reason to do that for you, I’m sorry to say. And it doesn’t matter if it’s logical, it’s how it feels. And relationships are based on feelings, not logic, so we need to make this effort.

What we need to do and why it’s difficult is because we feel like we’re letting go of… We’re unable to see that other person and their eyes and their expressions. So there’s a couple things you want to do to set it up so you have that opportunity, which is to set the images, as close to your camera as possible, likely not going to be a perfect fit, and as big as possible. So you want to get rid of anything else on your screen or make sure the person is as big as possible. You don’t need your picture on there. That’s one thing I always say, “Hide your image,” because all that’s going to do is distract you.

And then when you’ve got your camera set up with the images nearby, if you are speaking to the camera and you’re seeing that person in the camera, which I can see through my peripheral vision, I can actually speak to the camera, see a bit with my peripheral vision, and I can also see when you are making some movements or when your facial expression changes. You can see more with your peripheral vision than most people realize. I can see, for instance, that you’re nodding, or I can see if you’re looking around a lot. And if I see something in my peripheral vision that indicates somebody might be distracted or there’s something going on, then of course I can do more of a micro check in, but I don’t want to constantly be going camera, screen, camera, screen, because that kind of eye contact is associated with suspicious behavior, right?

As humans, we read so much into how someone makes eye contact, where they’re looking, how long it is. It’s amazing what our brains process out of somebody’s eye contact. So we have to be aware of that, and so there are times where, yes, you can. I would say you have some moments where you can cheat and look at the screen, like for instance, when someone else is talking. Not, someone else is talking to you because we want to make someone feel heard, but if someone else on your team is talking for instance, or while you’re changing slides, because movement will draw people’s attention, so you have a moment to check body language.

But here’s the other thing, April, is we are looking for something that often doesn’t exist. And that is we’re looking for some type of reaction that people don’t necessarily give us virtually that they may do more so in-person. Like we talked about, we’re often very stoic on video as salespeople or we’ve got that business mode, and our customers have that too. And that is because we have been trained by media to get in front of a screen and be in receiving mode. So we’re not ready to participate and express and be engaging; we don’t feel that compelling reason to be as expressive as we might when we are in-person, when we know that other person is right across from us. So people tend to be very, very flat in their affect and they even have… Well, I adopted a name for it, resting business face, or RBF, right? They just don’t let on an ounce of emotion or expression, it’s a real poker face, and that’s what you mostly see on a virtual meeting.

And so if we’re looking for some kind of reaction to everything we say, we’re going to be very disappointed and we’re probably going to have some reaction to that that is not helpful, like we’re going to rush, or we’re going to get nervous, and then we’re going to start checking in all the time. And really, the person is listening, especially if you’ve told me that you’re going to show me a presentation, or it’s a pitch, I’m not coming prepared to engage with you necessarily. So it’s being aware of that is really vital.

AW:

Yeah, that’s so true.

It’s so good. I mean, I think about, it’s probably the one chapter in your book that just gave me a huge pit in my stomach, because I thought, “It is going to be the most challenging to…” I mean, right now we are on a video call and I’m keeping trying to look you in the eyes and look up and it’s exactly… And then you said it looks deceitful when we do that, we’re not to be trusted, so this will definitely be a training moment for sure.

And I think the end result, you say, “Although it’s easy to blame poor engagement on our audience, it’s not their responsibility to interact with us. Customers are just doing what they’ve been trained to do when in front of a screen,” which we just talked about.

JH:

Right.

AW:

But can you elaborate at all, are there any tips, Julie, on getting people to engage, or is the advice more to not take it personally that they’re not engaging? What do we do when we get that flat resting business face back at us?

JH:

Sure, sure. Yes, a little of both. I mean, first we can’t take it personally. If we got all the salespeople together and took a poll and said, “How many of you feel like your audience is very passive and doesn’t respond to you when you ask a question?” It’d be like 99% most of the time, so it can’t be personal, right? But that doesn’t mean we have to accept it. It means we have to work harder and we have to understand what’s happening and how to improve that interaction.

And like I said, most customers, prospects, don’t come with the idea of being interactive as top of mind, right? Just like us, they’re on one call after another, and most of them are meetings and they sit there, they listen, and pipe in once in a while if they have to, but not that much is often required. And so when they get on with us, we need to, first of all, reset the expectations. And many salespeople try to do this by saying, “Hey, I want you to ask questions as you go. I want this to be interactive,” and gosh, I wish that were enough, but it’s not, right? I mean, that’s just white noise to customers by now. It’s like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go. I’ll talk when I want to talk,” so we have to create ways for them to engage.

And so, I go through a number of ways to improve that interaction in the book, but, I’ll tell you, some of the simplest are, first of all, if you look at the camera while you’re asking a question, you will dramatically improve the response rate to your questions. Because it’s just like we talked about, especially, if there are several people on the call, because if I look at my screen when I ask a group a question, they’re all thinking, “Well, first of all, is it a question? Is she asking a question? Well, she’s certainly not asking it at me, because she’s not looking at me.” Well, I’m not looking at anybody, so everybody feels like I’m not talking to them.

And so we have to remember, video is a very personal medium; everybody is having their own personal experience with you. And so if you look at the camera, everyone on that call will feel like you’re looking at them and feel a little more pressure to respond. And then of course I have to wait long enough to let you respond. And what happens is, as sellers, that pause feels just interminable, right? It’s like, “Oh my God,” and part of it is because if we’re saying it to a camera… And a lot of times our customers aren’t on camera, which makes it even harder. And so we feel like nothing is happening when we ask a question except everybody’s sitting there going, “I’m not going to answer her.”

We go to this unbelievable place where we just think our customer is totally just ignoring us or uninterested, and that’s not likely the case, right? What they’re doing is they’re perhaps thinking about your question, and then they’re formulating an answer perhaps, then they’re thinking, “Well, should I ask it? Because my manager’s on this call, so is that going to make me look stupid?” And then they’re thinking, “Well, I bet Bill’s going to answer this,” and so that whole process takes more than 10 seconds, right? And if you shortcut that process, then you’ve just taught your audience that they don’t need to answer your questions, right? You’ve trained them that you will answer all your own questions.

So it’s really important to just understand that if I look at the camera and I hold my gaze there and I ask you, “So tell me, how is that working for you today in your business?” And I hold it 15 seconds, somebody will answer. Certainly, at one point, you might say, “Well, Jim, is that something… You had mentioned in our previous call that…” You can start to plant seeds, but resist the urge to answer your own question.

AW:

That’s really, really good, and I think it’s a lot of the things we did when we were in-person. And some of it I feel like, even as I think about me, is I forget what that was like, and bringing those things in with me to these virtual conversations, which is so critical.

JH:

Yeah.

Right.

Well, if you think about it, in-person, it might take that long for somebody to respond to your question, but you could see them processing it a lot of times, or you could look at somebody and sort of pressure them into it. Well, you have that same power, we’re just not using it, right? If I look at the camera, I am using that, like, “I’m talking to you, April.”

AW:

Right.

JH:

Pretty soon, you’re going to feel, “Okay, I’ll answer it,” right?

AW:

That is so good. And then as you ended your book, you were talking about being your own director. What do you mean by that?

JH:

Well, it goes back to that we never, a lot of us, planned to be on camera; and here we are, we’ve got to be the front person, we’re the actor, we’re the makeup artist, we’re the lighting technician, we’re the camera crew, and we also have to direct ourselves, because there isn’t someone there to always analyze our recordings and help us do better. Some companies offer some coaching, but not everybody is good at coaching people on video because a lot of coaching is just, “Oh, you should look at the camera more.” Well, as we found, that’s not helpful. Unless you give me some strategies to do that, I’m going to go, “Okay, thanks.”

So being your own director means you have to separate that part of your performance and looking at your performance as an audience member. And the thing about video, and I empathize with everyone that’s new to video or got on video for the first time, it’s a very vulnerable thing to do. We’ve never had to see ourselves in real time, how we come across, and we tend to be very hard on ourselves and look at things that nobody else cares about what we do, like this certain thing we do with our eyebrow or mannerisms, or why are my eyebrows crooked? So that can really distract us.

And so being your own director means looking at your video and looking from an aspect of, not you as a person but, is this person that I’m watching, are they connecting with me as well as they could? Are they communicating in a way that makes me feel something? And I’m going to look at it a little differently than, “Oh, I don’t like my hair. I don’t like the way I’m moving.” I’m going to look at perhaps my hair or movement if they’re distracting, that’s important, right? It’s like, “Well, I’m making that movement, and it’s actually distracting. It’s not supporting what I’m saying, so that’s something I need to work at.”

So being your own director means, first of all, looking at what you did well, because we’re all doing something well, right? Maybe you smiled at the beginning of a call, that’s a huge thing. Maybe you waited long enough after asking a question that got someone to answer. So looking for those and then going, “Okay, what could I do better? Well, I could have maybe hung onto that smile a little longer. I could have made better eye contact,” and being specific like, when? Like, “I made eye contact at this point and then I got stuck looking at the screen for about 10 minutes. So why did that happen? How can I make a note to do that differently next time? Maybe I’ll try to hold my eye contact through those first few minutes, through the introduction, before I look away.”

So coming up with a game plan as well, as to how you’re going to tackle those things. And then just looking at, “Okay, what’s one thing I can work on?” And taking that and practicing that, instead of taking on this whole list of “what I need to improve”. Like you said, there’s a lot of things that we can improve on, just pick one thing and start to get better at that, and then work your way down the list.

AW:

I so appreciate that. I think, Julie, when I read your book and was thinking about all the people that this book could apply to and help, it also made me realize it wasn’t just me, it’s a bunch of people out there that are trying to figure this out. And like we said at the beginning, in the From Hello, to Yes podcast, we want to learn from one another. So, so grateful for you going ahead of us and all the way back to taking that improv class that got you really to start to understand some of what we were all going to have to face, but you didn’t know that.

JH:

That’s right.

AW:

So our From Hello, to Yes final question is, what has you stumped today? And who, what, and where are you going for answers?

JH:

Hmm, and that is a great question. Yes, at this point, I am stumped by how to balance my time, and I feel that’s probably not different than a lot of people listening to this right now. It really is hard when, like you said, we pack a lot more in with these Zoom calls, right? We can be way more efficient, we don’t have that debrief time, even mentally, between calls that we used to as we’re getting in the train or a car. So finding a way to balance, and show up and be at my best on video calls and still get the backside done, which is the work, the creative aspect, like writing this book and doing workshops and working with salespeople, which is what I love, and doing podcasts.

So it’s finding that balance. And for me, there’s certainly a lot of books on this, but one that I keep going back to is a book called The ONE Thing, and really excellent. It’s written by the guy who started Keller Williams Realty, and it really is like, what is the one thing that matters? And how does everything relate to that one thing? Because it’s so easy to get distracted and off on a tangent and plow down into the details, and suddenly you haven’t accomplished what you really set out to accomplish; so that really helps me stay focused.

AW:

Love that answer. I think every one of us, again, could probably relate to you. Julie, thank you so very much. We’re all going to be much better at virtual selling because of you; I can feel it. Where can our listeners find you to learn more, and where can they follow you? And I know that they can get your book on Amazon, because I did, Look Me In the Eye: Using Video to Build Relationships with Customers, Partners, and Teams, but where else could they follow you or find you?

JH:

Yes. Check out my website, my blog, I have tons of articles and videos on a lot of these tips and a lot of things we didn’t cover, it’s JulieHansen.live, and lots of information there; and connect with me on LinkedIn, I’m always publishing the latest article and video so you can keep up to speed there; or reach out at Julie@ActingforSales.com, I’d love to hear from you and hear about your journey.

AW:

That’s wonderful. On behalf of From Hello, to Yes, Julie, thank you again for joining us today.

JH:

Oh, my pleasure. Thanks, April.

AW:

Wasn’t that fantastic? Can you tell I’m smeaking right now? Already, I have a list of things I can’t wait to implement and pass on to the SalesAmp sales team. One of my favorite comments from Julie was, “The camera is a lie detector.” Whoa. She emphasized the importance of taking time before each customer call reflecting on, why am I engaging in this meeting, what I hope to accomplish, and how am I feeling overall about this call? I just loved that, taking those moments to truly prepare.

So if you’re about to jump on another sales call today and need that boost of energy, you’re welcome. And don’t forget, all the resources mentioned today can be found in our show notes on the SalesAmp.com podcast, along with our other episodes. And you can also connect with Julie through her website, JulieHansen.live, or purchase her book, Look Me In the Eye.

So that’s a wrap. Remember in this fast-paced world of marketing and sales, we are better together. Thank you for joining us today on From Hello, to Yes. Hope you’ll join us again soon.

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