It is happening over and over millions of times a day during virtual sales calls: “The over credentialization.” Over credentializing is the process of talking too much about yourself and trying way too hard to get others on your call to think you know what you are talking about and are worthy of their time.
The only thing that will ever convince prospects that you are worthy of their time is providing business value through a valid business reason for having the sales meeting.
What does over credentializing sound like?
In these new and disrupted times, I am so focused on our clients that I rarely have time for vendor calls. This week, at the suggestion of a colleague, I agreed to join a call where a company was pitching us a new idea for some sort of business process outsourcing. It sounded interesting so I decided to give it a shot. What did I have to lose beside a precious hour?
I got on the Zoom call five minutes early and was the only one there until 3 minutes past the hour. Strike #1 in my book. The vendor finally got on and there was no apology for being late. A few minutes of small talk went by and finally their team was all there. At 9 minutes past the hour, the meeting started by introducing all 4 members of his team. There were only two of us and it was already feeling overwhelming.
For the next 16 minutes, the four vendors introduced themselves. It was absurd. Each of them talked about themselves, how busy they are, all the deals they are working on, and how long they have been doing their jobs. One of them thought that four years was a really, really long time.
The moment that took me over the edge is when the leader of the vendor group said, “So hey Rob, I took a good look at your LinkedIn and other social media. I see you went to Penn and play squash. I see you still play, and your ranking is very high. Pretty impressive at your age. I did a squash camp at Princeton one year. Love the game. We should play a set.”
Seriously? It was so off-putting. Was supposed to be impressed that he looked up my profile and then turned it into something about him? He was so proud and the rest of his was looking at him so adoringly you would have thought he single handedly cured COVID-19. And oh, by the way, there are no “sets” in squash.
By the time they were done, they forgot to ask me to introduce myself or my team.
It was apparent that they were trying so hard to present themselves as having credentials they ended up having none. The experience triggered me to do some research and think about 3 things to recommend to anyone trying to credentialize themselves when doing a virtual sales meeting.
3 Tips for Better Credentialization in a Virtual Sales Meeting
Don’t overwhelm the customer with too many people
Think long and hard about how many people you need on that call. A virtual sales meeting is much more intimate than an in-person meeting. You can see better, hear better, and when focused can communicate better. One or two people (including yourself) should be the maximum. You can always follow-up with more technical support and help after the first meeting.
It’s not about you, it’s about the customer
This is a new world and you may be getting opportunities that you would not have had in the old world. The tendency is to blather on about yourself and your company trying to convince the customer you are great. The only way you are going to do that is by providing value. Real value that addresses some sort of need they can’t solve themselves. You must start and focus on a valid business reason and if you are doing more than 60% of the talking, you are doing something wrong.
The first three minutes matter
Attention spans in the virtual selling world are short. You can lose the prospect/customer within three minutes if you aren’t careful. They may act like they are looking at you, but they are really doing email. It is critical to plan out those first three minutes by:
- Sharing what the meeting is about
- Providing a valid business reason for the meeting
- Ask them to share their challenges and opportunities
- Presenting emotional intelligence in everything you do
In summary, selling in a virtual environment is extremely challenging. You must treat it like and art and the best artists are the ones who don’t overwhelm and are able to find that right balance between listening and providing real business value.