Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 302: Q & A with Julie Hansen @acting4sales
By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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Join us as we discuss how businesses continue to evolve Sales and marketing in a virtual world, from connecting through authenticity in unnatural circumstances to being comfortable enough with the content that you can focus on the performance of selling.
Listen in now, read below or watch the video!
Matt: All right. Welcome everybody to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. I am your host, Matt Hines. Very excited to be here. As the weather gets a little colder, it is raining like crazy in Seattle shocker, but we are inside, we are warm, we are dry, and excited to have you here again. If you are watching live on LinkedIn or on YouTube thank you very much for checking us out in the middle of your workday in the middle of your work week. Feel free to chime in with your own comments on today’s topic and with today’s featured guest. Ask questions, make comments. One point maybe make you part of the show as well but thank you very much for watching. If you are watching on demand or listening via the podcast, thanks so much for subscribing. Thanks so much for downloading. If you like what you hear today, we cover B2B sales and marketing, best practices on a regular basis, and there’s over 300 episodes now available on demand at salespipelineradio.com.
Very excited to have with us today, influencer, author, evangelist Julie Hansen, joining us today to talk a little bit about how we continue to evolve sales and marketing in a virtual world. Julie, thanks for joining us.
Julie: Oh, thanks, Matt. So great to be here with you.
Matt: Well, let us start with, for those of you that may not know you or be familiar with your work, just start an introduction of you and some of the things that you have been writing and thinking about lately and sort of what you have been working on lately.
Julie: Sure, well lately it has certainly been all about virtual as it has for many people, whether they planned on it or not, right? But I have been a sales trainer, sales consultant, for many years and teaching presentation skills. I taught virtual presentation skills, but there were so few people in those classes that would use their video, right? They’d all go, “Oh no, I have, I have tape over my videos. So, I don’t by chance even get on video.” And certainly, that has all changed. So, when the pandemic hit, I had also worked as an actor. I was in sales a long time and I worked as an actor and took a few years off to do that in New York. And I realized that all these people going on camera, and they have never had the benefit of understanding how to adapt to speaking on the camera, because it is a highly unnatural act as everyone has found out.
Julie: And so, I saw everyone struggling with that and I was like, gosh, I have the benefit of having on camera training classes as an actor. And that was the only way I ever got part on TV or film, or I would still be banging on the doors. So, I put together some videos to help people in sales, specific for business and sales, to communicate more effectively on camera and developed the Selling on Video masterclass. And then I worked with hundreds and hundreds of salespeople coaching them on that over the past two years. And out of that came this idea of the book, which is called, Look Me in the Eye: Using Video to Build Relationships.
Out of that process I heard so many questions that I thought there’s just so many things that we don’t know intuitively. So, I wrote the book to address a lot of the things that sellers were asking like, “Well, what if my customer doesn’t have their camera on?” “Well, what if I have two screens?” “Well, why are people so passive on video”? And “Why is this so uncomfortable?” So, it is really a guidebook to help salespeople through that.
Matt: I have so many questions, we are definitely not going to have enough time today. For those of you that want to learn more about Julie, I definitely encourage you to go to actingforsales.com. I love just the perspective of thinking about this, a little bit of as a performance, right? I mean, you want to be authentic in selling, you want to come across as a real authentic person but talk about selling as a performance and talk about how important it is in a virtual environment like this. For those of you that are just watching. I mean, it is a miracle that we get to see each other and interact with each other in real time with video. But this is different from being in person. You do not see as much body language. It is very difficult. I feel like I am looking you in the eye, but I am not. Cause I am looking at the screen here and I am not looking at-
Matt: It is very unnatural to look here all the time.
Matt: And I have notes and other stuff I want to look at and if I am looking at them, you feel like I am not talking to you. It is very complicated. Like how do you navigate that as a seller?
Julie: Yes. It is complicated. And then you are supposed to be present and, in the moment, and listening and picking up cues, you have a one-person show going on here that you are the director, you are the lighting technician. You are the makeup artist. You are the performer. So, you have to manage all these skills. And I guess in terms of how this relates to acting and, I learned as a performer, like you said, the best acting is using parts of yourself. It is not being someone you are not, it is being as authentic as you can in some unnatural circumstances, right? How would I react in the circumstance and trying to find that true connection to express yourself? And in sales, it is really no different, we are playing a role, right? You are not… We are in our sales role, and we are still ourselves, but we are different when we are a partner or a soccer coach or a yoga instructor, right? We just use different parts of ourselves. So, it is very similar. It is just as an actor, you learn how to step into those roles, a little more consciously use access, those best parts of yourself. And when we are in front of a camera, what is interesting is, we are in a new medium and there is a lot of people that want to deny that and go, well, I am just going to do what I always do. And it is like, well, okay, your results may not be as anticipated. Because we have honed our face-to-face skills for our entire life. And suddenly this requires new skills and we’ve sort of thrown people in front of a camera, given a bunch of tools and technology and like, okay, now connect with people and really deliver that same energy and passion about what you sell, with all these things going on.
And oh, by the way, not knowing how to talk to a camera without looking to distracted or inattentive or unconfident. So, it is a lot. Oftentimes people say, well, I just want to do, I do not want to adapt. Why do I have to adapt to this? It is like, we adapt when we are in person all the time. If you were in person and you were presenting, you learn to sort of position yourself so they can see the screen behind you, right? Or you would, you adjust your energy for the room. It is really not… It is different in that the techniques are different, but this idea of we are adapting because it is all about the customer’s experience.
Matt: Well, when you think about what that means in terms of differentiating yourself, right? I mean, you have this different virtual medium; you have prospects that may be going from zoom meeting to zoom meeting that can get a little monotonous and get tiring. What are you doing in the way you come across? What are you doing in your presentation, in your body language and how well you smile and also just how you present yourself that helps you be someone that is just enjoyable in that environment as well? And that can be hard to do. I am very curious though. And just explicitly because I am personally very bad at this. I am trained to look at someone, the guy. So, I am looking at you as I am talking to you and if I am assuming that people that do like shows on TV for a living that do remote, they are so used to just staring at the camera and pretending they are looking at you in the eye. It is a very difficult thing to do.
Julie: It is a skill. Yes.
Matt: Tactically, is this just something that it, so A, on a scale of one to ten, how important is it that I look here as if I am looking at you versus looking down at you here, how important is that? And B what are tactics to help people? Is it just practice? Is it just doing it often? What is the best?
Julie: Yes. You know, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it by now. Right?
It is clearly not. I could. I mean, how many times have you heard? “Well, you should look at the camera.” It is like, oh, thank you. That is so helpful, right? That is why I wrote a book about it. It is not… you told me that was an actor that did not help me. So, there are tactics to do that and certainly it is practice, but you know, practicing in a certain way and making it, easier to adjust to. But the reason it is important is if Matt, you were telling me your biggest problem that you are having today and you were pouring your heart out to me and I was looking down, you might feel that I am distracted or uninterested or checking my phone. I mean, if we did that in person, the other person would be like, hey, do you mind?
Matt: Yes. Yes.
Julie: It is the equivalent of what we are doing virtually all the time. Whether we like it or not. The reality is if we are not looking at the camera, the other person does not feel like you are paying attention to them. You are listening to them, you are interested. Eye contact is related to, honesty and telling the truth and confidence. It helps you build a relationship faster. So, there is all these great qualities about making direct eye contact that we are not taking advantage of. And it is already more difficult to build relationships on video. Harvard business review did a study on that, which is really not surprising, right?
And we’re just tying ourselves, our hands down by not understanding how we come across on camera, how our customer perceives us, what the camera does to our behavior and how we need to adapt so that our customer has an experience where, like you said, they go, oh wow. That was a great call I had with Matt. You know, I just felt energized. I am excited about the next call. Most calls are nothing like that.
Matt: Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Julie Hansen, a sales expert, who’s written extensively on how to sell and how to present yourself in the virtual world. I encourage everyone actingforsales.com/juliehansen.live tons of great content, a lot of good free stuff up there in terms of best practices. You have also got a bunch of great workshops. You have a Selling On Video Masterclass and I highly recommend people checkout as well. And there are things that engage us in the real world that work in virtual as well. Like I think if we are not on video, it is easy to get distracted and get away with it, right? And you may be able to figure your way through a conversation by doing that. But then you are not really paying attention. You are not gathering that information, by you looking me in the eye, even though you are looking to camera right now, by me thinking you are looking me in the eye, I have tens of thousands of years of like hardwired brain to think, you are looking at me, you’re going to recognize whether I’m paying attention or not. So, I am therefore going to more likely pay attention to you.
Julie: Feel a little more accountable.
Matt: How often are you in a meeting or even at a conference? When someone on stage, they look like they are looking at you and how often are you sort of naturally just sort of like you look them back, now you are really paying attention. Now you are nodding your head or reacting to what they are saying. They are not looking at you directly, if they are on stage and there is a thousand people out there, but that connection matters, right? And I think there probably is a very direct correlation between that direct connection you have and the amount of the content they consume and actually retain.
Julie: Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, to your point, it is like, even if you have twenty people on your call, which you cannot manage to look at, even if you tried on a zoom and catch body language and read these cues, you will not be able to do it. And connect. But what we can remember, and I teach a technique on the book to set your screen up so that you can use your peripheral vision to still look at the camera and catch major changes in body language. If you have it set up right, and you are looking at your camera, for instance, I can see that Matt just nodded, right? I can see him smiling. I can see these things. And so, I know if I continually see movement, I need to check on that.
I need you to micro check him, but I do not constantly need to do this. The up and down… Our eye contact sends so much information to people. That tells me, you are not certain, you are hiding something. So, we have to be very intentional about, where we are looking and what we are doing. But even if we have that many people on the call, the thing is video is a very personal medium. So, everyone is having their own individual experience with you. So, if I am looking at the camera, everybody feels like I am talking to them, and salespeople do not use this knowledge enough. One of the things you can do with that power is, we all complain about, oh, people are so passive on video, right? The customers, especially if you get a number of people on a call and that is true, that is, people go into receiving mode when they are in front of a screen. Especially if they think it is a pitch or presentation, right. They are not there to engage.
And so, we have to break that pattern, but also if you do not look at the camera, when you ask a question, I am not going to feel compelled to answer it. Right. I mean, the simplest way to improve people’s interaction is to look at the camera, ask the question and hold it there. Don’t you feel like the pressure is building, as I say, how does [inaudible 00:13:56] Matt?
Matt: Yes. Yes. And if you have done that and someone is paying attention, they feel like they need to engage with you. You have done that; they may not be paying attention. That is a quick way to get them back, engage with you in our direct way.
Love it. Well, we just got a couple more minutes with Julie Hansen today. Definitely make sure you check out her book, Look Me In The Eye, brand new book, you can find on Amazon and where great books are sold. Want to make sure we also recognize our sponsor, Sendoso. Pretty relevant, Julie did this conversation today about just the way that we are selling any very hybrid workplace. We have digital saturation, a lot of channels. We have hybrid opportunities, but like those human connections we are talking about, looking someone in the eye, connecting with someone on a personal level still makes a huge difference. And whether you do that physical hybrid, virtual, still super important. I love what Sendoso has done to sort of help evangelize these ideas. They recently did their connected conference, tons of best practices, excuse me, lots of customers that are doing virtual hybrid work, connecting at a human level. Definitely encourage everyone.
Even though the conferences passed, you cannot attend it live. It is all available on demand. sendoso.com/connected-2021, really great content, great on demand stuff there that I think, can allow you to take some of what we are talking about here with Julie in terms of sort of skills in selling and bringing that to life throughout your entire go-to market strategy. So, I really want to thank Sendoso for engaging with us and participating as a sponsor of Sales Pipeline Radio.
Last question I want to ask for you, I think is around sort of preparation for selling. And I think about getting into a sales environment where you have your deck, and you have your messages you are trying to use. And I think there’s analogy there for actors. Like if you give someone a script and say go up and perform, if they don’t know the words, they’re focused on the script versus the performance, if you know your content well, if you know what you’re trying to say, if you have already done some practice envisioning where you want this to go, you’re going to be more comfortable with the content, more natural and presenting and be able to focus more on the performance. How, how close is that analogy in terms of helping people?
Julie: No, that is spot on. You cannot even really rehearse effectively as an actor until your off book or off script, right? Because you are too busy thinking about what the next line and you are not establishing those connections like you are trying to do in a scene. And the same thing is true in sales. Like if you are constantly worried about what is the next slide, how I am going to introduce it? I say, why write copy in your head on this spot? That is the hardest thing to do, right? And it does not mean you have to memorize the whole thing. We do not have a writer there in the room going, she messed up that line, right? But it gives you confidence. And there’s certain things that can give you more confidence, which is always know your first line, right? Because as a performer, what you find is… And a presenter and I am sure you have felt this like those, that first minute, that those first few seconds are the most nerve wracking and especially virtually where you have all these different things to manage. So, you got to have that first line down so that once you get that out, then muscle memory sort of kicks in and you go, but also in preparation in terms of… You got to be on, you got to be on before you hit join meeting.
What I learned as an actor is actors do not wait until the curtain goes up or the camera goes on to be in character to be at the right energy level, to be in the moment. And I see a lot of salespeople taking a couple minutes to really get their stride, to hit their sweet spot. And we do not have that kind of attention span anymore, right? Especially if you are sending a video to someone it is like, delete, you did not grab my attention. Right.
You were not looking at me. It was not compelling. It was wooden. So many reasons to hit delete. So, getting in that place is important.
Matt: The delete button is happening faster and faster with people as well as our attention spans are down. So super important advice. Well, listen, I do not want to give everything away. We need people to buy some workshops and books here, but Julie thank you for being so generous with your time and ideas today. For those that you want to learn more, definitely check out juliehansen.live . You can get a copy of the book, Look Me In The Eye, at Amazon as well as directly in the site acting for sales. Go to acting number four sales on Twitter. You are going to see a lot of great Julie’s insights and be able to follow her as well. And Julie, thanks so much for being generous with your time and joining us today.
Julie: Oh, thanks so much, Matt. It was a pleasure.
Matt: All right. Well, thank you everyone for watching live. For those of you listening, thanks so much again for downloading and subscribing. If you want to share this conversation with some of your sales leaders, other people in your go-to market team, you can find this on demand shortly at salespipelineradio.com. With that, thanks for being here. We will see you next week on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Bye. Bye.
Julie: Bye everybody.
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