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Image courtesy of Randy Kashka
Meetings with clients in the conference room are difficult enough to manage, but meetings in a virtual conference room are another matter entirely. Too many conferences go to waste through miscommunication and timewasting, so it is extremely important for every business of every size to make the most of the time it has in a conference call with a client.
Time is money in today’s frantic business world, so connecting with your clients as early and for as long as possible is vital. You should have a focused plan in place before the call to ensure that not a second is wasted. Set your own goals but understand what you think they will want out of it and tailor your approach to that. Understanding your clients’ needs is obviously a standard business practice, but it is especially important in conference calls when you are not sat face to face. The last thing you want to do is waste their time.
Sticking to your own goals during the conference is paramount, since it’s your business you want to give precedence to first and foremost. In this respect, it’s good to adopt an assertive tone on the phone, but not so much so that it undermines the client you might risk losing them. Remember, assertively portraying a message over the phone is not the same as doing it in person because they can’t see your facial expressions.
Teleconferencing presents slightly different challenges to face-to-face meetings, so it is a potential minefield for anybody who overlooks them. We like to think that people are always courteous on the phone but the unfortunate truth is that being in a separate room altogether means that participants can easily find distractions. If a client is distracted, it would suggest that either your approach is wrong or that they’re not worth the business effort. If things start going awry, though, consider your own approach first. Are you being too assertive or too demanding? Are you giving them a reason to stay in business with you or is it becoming one-sided?
It is obviously good practice not to eat, shuffle papers or type on a keyboard during a conference call. Any unnecessary and annoying background noise will irritate clients and potentially drive them away. In the long run, conference calls could be beneficial to your relationship because it minimises the need for excessive travel, but this all depends on your etiquette and overall approach in the actual calls themselves.