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“Are we there yet? Mommy, when are we going to get there?” Sorry to break it to you, but that’s what your customers are thinking in 87 percent of all virtual sales conversations.

In 2000, Microsoft conducted a study measuring how long people can focus on one thing for a specific amount of time. The results showed the average person’s attention span was 12 seconds. About 15 years later, it dropped to a shocking 8 seconds. Today, it’s even shorter.

That means your prospects are already tuned out by the time you get to your demo/model tour/presentation. They have 1,908,788,987 things on their mind at any given second–whether it’s picking up the dry cleaning, their date on Friday night, or the bill they forgot to pay! Holding their attention is tougher than ever. Flooded with text messages, information, To-Do Lists, and more how do you avoid Zoom Gloom and stand out in the mix?

Follow these five tips to attract and keep the attention of your customers on or offline:

1) Use Superlatives for Emphasis: “The number one reason customers purchase is…”, “If you hear nothing else, I tell you…”, and “I’ll share with you the greatest benefit of our product/service right after we see the…” The way you frame it matters, especially the information you’re about to present. Believe it or not, your listener is making unconscious decisions about whether or not they’re going to listen to your next sentence way before you speak it.

2) Involve Your Customers: The more you involve your customers in your sales conversation, the more you’ll hold their attention. Did you know that according to adult learning theory, people retain:

  • 10% of what they hear
  • 50% of what they see and hear
  • 90% of what they see and do

Make your sales conversations more memorable and exciting. You can do this by showcasing information in the chat like links to books, articles or videos, or even try a poll. But most importantly, get them interacting.

During the Discovery, instead of the predictable, “Why is something important to you?”, how about playing a game? Have one stakeholder guess something about another; see which one of them can explain something about the other.

Remember, people don’t believe it when we say it; they believe it when they say it!

3) Change the Tone: Communication is only 7% verbal. It is 33% tonality and 60% body language. Think about your voice inflection on a virtual call. Where do you want to emphasize certain points? Plan it in advance. What facial expression and body movements will add to your conversation effectiveness? Too many gestures are distracting on a small screen, and too little action bores your audience. It’s never what you say; it’s how you say it.

4) Use Stories, Metaphors, and Analogies: The creative use of stories, metaphors, and analogies not only entertain your audience but enables them to listen better. A presentation without stories is like an opera without music. (Read more here.) They’ll get the plot, but miss the feeling.

5) Let them Talk and Share: On average, people spend 60 percent of conversations talking about themselves—and this figure jumps to 80 percent when communicating via social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. The fact is, getting to the top of a customer’s priority list is easy when you listen carefully and show genuine interest. Ask to meet their kids (who may be homeschooling), their garden, or their pets. I always say, ‘people aren’t bored when they’re talking; they’re bored when we’re talking!’

Have I kept your attention? I haven’t been bored yet!

One Comment

  • Andy McNabb says:

    Shari – I’m not throwing flowers at you, but this – THIS – is one of the most practical, hands on guides for ANY person – online or in person – who’s leading or participating in a group session. It’s pure gold for business people.

    Well done. I’m not only bookmarking this, I’m saving it as a PDF – and sharing this with those of our four kids who are now making their way in the work world.

    Seriously, if you’re ever in the Toronto-Niagara-Buffalo corridor (St. Catharines is home), let me know. At the very least, let’s grab coffee. Either that, or with over 120 wineries within 25 minutes from our doorstep, come by the house and we’ll kill half a bottle – a full one, if it’s after 5!

    Bless you!
    Andy McNabb
    A “packed ice” easterner who’s loved skiing so much at Park City, they almost made me an honourary (Cdn. spelling) Mormon! Going thighs deep in that light, dry, Wasatch powder is the best!

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