Recently, a friend and colleague of mine, Don Roberts, Principal at Exotek LLC, reached out to me and his question sparked my interest in sharing this blog post with our System Integrator community. Don and the cofounders at Exotek work with system integrator (SI) business owners and leaders to help develop strategies to achieve business goals and overcome growth challenges. During a couple of Don’s recent meetings with SI executives the topic of onboarding new clients came up. Certainly this is a timely topic given the current COVID environment where we are all having to learn how to navigate the ‘new normal’ to keep our businesses running successfully.
One of the specific questions Don asked was around virtual meeting and the use of a TEAMS or other virtual meeting platforms like Zoom for an introduction meeting and how that might be different from a face-to-face meeting. As one person asked Don, “I wouldn’t have a briefcase big enough to carry all the things I could show during a TEAMS meeting.”
Don’s question to me was Have you heard of any best practices around virtual introduction meetings…showing a video…icebreakers…live demo of client systems…presentations that are flexible enough to answer on-the-spot questions?
At Rivergate Marketing, we all work virtually and have used virtual meeting platforms for many years. However, we usually onboard our clients in a two-day meeting at their facility, so we have also had to pivot. While as Don’s client alluded to in his comment regarding not having a briefcase big enough to carry all the things he could show on a virtual meeting, we need to avoid the temptation to overwhelm.
At Rivergate, we now break our two-day onboarding into multiple intense virtual meetings over several weeks focusing on specific topics for each meeting. For an SI, depending on the size and scope of the work to be done, onboarding a new client is usually not a multiday process and needs to happen more quickly to get the project rolling. Below are our tips for virtual meeting best practices, and click to download a PDF version of the document.
- HAVE A CLEAR AGENDA: Write it out and send it ahead of time. Allow extra time to discuss, as digital meetings sometimes require more clarification.
- PREP: Let them know if there are things they can be prepared with prior to the meeting to be as productive as possible. Let everyone know in advance which meetings will be camera on and which will be audio only.
- USE YOUR CAMERA: If people can’t meet with you in-person this makes it much more inviting and warm. People like to know who they are talking to!
- BE CAMERA READY: Wear what you would if this was an in person meeting or at least wear a nice top or polo shirt. Look professional and presentable.
- LIGHTING: Make sure your lighting is decent so they can see your expressions and capture your personality. Body language is important in communication.
- ICEBREAKER: Have all involved in the meeting introduce themselves and speak to their role in the company. This gives a little time to get comfortable with the format, and work out any technical difficulties before getting into it.
- SCREEN SHARE your agenda and ask if they have anything they would like to cover in addition. Leave plenty of time for questions and discussion.
- USE GRAPHICS and visuals in your screen share. Don’t have slides full of text that they need to read. Reiterate the main points before you adjourn.
- FLOW: Don’t do all the talking… ask open-ended questions to keep them engaged. Resist the temptation to talk if they do not answer right away.
- MUTE: If you have any background noise or potential noise – i.e. a dog that just loves to bark – mute when you are not talking.
- BACKUP PLAN: Provide attendees a call in number in case of internet failure.
- THE UNEXPECTED: If the cat jumps on your keyboard or your child screams in the background… or this happens for the client, make light of it – we are all dealing with the same challenges.