A Member posted a great question recently… he has two offices and is brainstorming how to use Skype for initial consultations with clients.
I, for one, am a huge fan of Skype. I use it to talk to my son in Iraq and to communicate with several of our offsite Academy employees. However, Skype tends to be easiest to use – and therefore most effective – when you have a pre-existing relationship with the person you’re talking to. It’s not the same as a face-to-face conversation, so it might take some effort to learn how to use Skype to conduct a business meeting or an initial consultation that works. In short, I wouldn’t recommend substituting a face-to-face meeting with an online connection unless you don’t have a choice.
That being said, I think it’s possible to learn the skills you need in order to work with prospects or centers of influence and close them via Skype (or by phone, for that matter). The key is to understand that you’re learning a new skill set, and to be prepared for the learning curve that comes along with any new endeavor.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned that might help you take the awkwardness out of the situation, and help make an initial consult by Skype successful:
- The main objective in this type of meeting or in a face-to-face meeting is to help the other person feel comfortable enough to open up and share the concerns they have with you. You have to be masterful when it comes to helping them put their finger on some of that pain… and doing that over the internet is a little tricky.
- Eye contact is key in any meaningful conversation… and generally, it’s not natural to keep and maintain eye contact when you’re using Skype. This is something you’ll need to practice so that you can put your prospect at ease like you would in a face-to-face consultation.
- Skype does not allow for multitasking. Whether you’re engaging with a client by Skype or by phone, 100% focus is essential. You might have to work to break the multitasking habit, but it’s necessary and worth it to gain the trust of your prospect.
- As a rule, active listening is a no-no when you’re using Skype for a meeting. Your goal should be to have no interruptions.
- You’ll need to consider how to create an effective client experience when you can’t shake hands, lean over to hand them a tissue, or pat their shoulder on their way out of the door. As useful as it is, there’s a certain lack of the human element when you’re using Skype, simply because you can’t reach out and touch the person you’re talking to. Liken it to doing a Living Trust Seminar on a conference call with all the participants muted. You have to create it all on your own with zero feedback, and they have to take a leap that you’re not untrustworthy without an up close and personal sniff test.
In my next post, I’ll talk a little about preparing a prospect for a Skype consultation, and why you might want to offer a choice between Skype and a face-to-face meeting.
Have you used Skype for client consults? What have you found that works for these conversations… and what have you found that doesn’t?
Director of Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
6050 Santo Rd Ste 240
San Diego, CA 92124