One of the surprising trends of the COVID-19 crisis has been the seemingly “overnight success” of Zoom and other videoconferencing apps. Especially during the early days of lockdown, millions of people were discovering how easy and fun it could be to talk with each other on Zoom, especially when there were no other options for socializing or business communication. But in recent weeks, it also seems like there has been some backlash against video conferencing. Many people have noticed a phenomenon called “Zoom fatigue,” where it can be tiring and quietly stressful to have too many video calls in one day.
There are a few reasons why Zoom fatigue is real, and why the best option for your B2B sales calls might be a much older technology: the telephone.
Zoom Fatigue is Real
Zoom and other videoconferencing tools are great technology in so many ways; this is a futuristic Star Trek type of technology that many people my parents’ age might never have imagined would be possible within their lifetimes. Being able to talk with and see people live on your screen, all over the world, is really quite a stunning achievement.
But along with the advancements of videoconferencing, there are some drawbacks too. Some people feel like videoconferencing is harder than phone calls and more stressful than real-life interaction. There are slight delays and confusing disconnects that can happen on a video call. Being on video all day can feel like too much pressure, like you’re under surveillance, like you have to be “on” at all times and you have to be excessively concerned about what you’re wearing or what the lighting is like in the room, or how your face looks on camera.
Most of us are not professional cinematographers and just want to do our jobs without worrying about creating a high-quality video presentation for every conversation. Picking up the phone can often be a better way to hold a sales conversation. It lets you put aside the visual element and just focus on what people are saying.
Zoom Calls Have to Be Scheduled
Zoom calls have to be scheduled in advance. This can be great for an online demo or a pre-scheduled conversation where you already have a relationship in place, but B2B sales conversations need to be more spontaneous than that.
B2B sales calls are often done on short notice, or even spontaneously in the moment when you happen to dial your decision maker at the right time to speak with them. Setting up a Zoom call is more of a time commitment. What if your decision maker doesn’t want to commit to 20 or 30 minutes on camera with you, but they might be willing to have a 5 minute phone conversation?
B2B sales conversations can often make a lot of progress just with a short phone call. If we were all limited to using Zoom, some of the best sales calls might never happen.
Phone Calls Help You Learn More About the Customer
There’s something about a video call that can be counter-productive to a sales conversation. People on a video call might not communicate in their most natural way; just being on camera and being extra-aware of their appearance might cause some people to be shy or soft-spoken.
But on the phone, when all you have to do is talk and listen, this can actually be better for sales conversations. Talking on the phone with customers is a great way to listen to the subtle nuances of what’s on the customer’s mind: what they say, how they say it, what they leave unsaid. Sometimes on a phone call, you can learn more about what the customer really needs, and uncover additional information about how their business works. Phone calls are ideal for asking follow-up questions and feeling out the customer’s mood.
Of course, you can also do most of these things on a video call, but there’s something about a simple phone call that can be more comfortable and effective. Not everyone is equally comfortable on a video call, but almost everyone has a phone.
Technology is great. Videoconferencing tools are bringing personal contact and daily joy to millions of people during the COVID-19 crisis, and all of that is valuable and important. But for B2B sales people, it might be time to cut back on the Zoom calls and spend more time picking up the phone. Zoom calls have their place for business, but sometimes we can learn more about our prospects and build better relationships with customers without being on video.