Modern Selling: Virtual Sales Call Best Practices

May 11, 2020
11 ways to adapt to the changing selling environment
This article originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention @SecBusinessMag!

Delivering virtual sales calls and presentations is kind of like dancing – everyone is bad at it, so it is not that big of a deal to look stupid while you are doing it…well, until it becomes the most common activity of your job.

Since virtual sales calls are not going away any time soon, your salespeople need a checklist of best practices to make virtual selling a success. Here are 12 best practices:

1. Remember the 3x rule. Multiply all public speaking rules by three – if live audiences lose focus after 15 minutes, then a virtual audience will lose focus after just FIVE minutes. If you typically include less than 30 words on a slide, then reduce that rule to 10 words per slide for virtual presentations.

2. Use video/webcam. If you do not use video to show yourself to your clients today, then it may as well be assumed that you have not showered or dressed appropriately. If you are the presenter, then it is rude in 2020 to not use a video camera. Shower, get dressed, clean your office and use video. A few days ahead of time, reach out to let your audience know that you will be using video – but do not require them to use theirs.

3. Send advance notice. Send an agenda and a brief survey well before your call. The agenda is a no-brainer, but the survey adds anticipation and mystery to the call. It also means that the first agenda item of the call should be the survey results.

4. Use proper lighting and audio. Buy a light and a proper microphone. You can easily get both for less than $125 total. Do not neglect this step – after the first time you use lighting and a microphone, you will be embarrassed about all the calls you ever did without them.

5. Start the call and share a welcome screen five minutes ahead of time. Share your screen with a professional-looking slide that welcomes your audience. This is to make sure they know that they have accessed the right call.

6. Include a guest moderator. A guest moderator can do things like introduce you, monitor the chat and questions tabs, and interact with you by asking primer questions that you prepare ahead of time to inspire the audience to ask more questions. I simply will not do a webinar without a moderator; in fact, most of the time I have both a moderator and a guest host so there are three of us. It is definitely OK to ask the point of contact at your customer’s organization to serve as a moderator.

7. Have an advance strategy for muting and addressing questions. I prefer the strategy of muting everyone, and letting them know that you will unmute them for questions, but that they will remain muted if they do not have any questions. Encourage attendees to “raise their hand” or make a comment in chat if they would like to speak. You will probably need to prime the questions, so have a question or two already prepared to ask in the absence of audience questions.

8. Use polls. If your virtual call service does not allow you to ask poll questions, use Slido ( to complement your call. You can launch poll questions with Slido and show the answers live on your computer.

9. Do not stick to a presentation deck. The most engagement you can generate from your virtual audience happens when you say something like: “I’m going to jump off the PowerPoint and show you how this works live.” If it is something you can show with video (e.g. a mobile app on your phone), then do it.

10. Stop your presentation and open discussion every six to 10 minutes. Do not wait until the end to take questions. Break up the call to keep things interesting. Stop the presentation and ask the moderator if there are any questions. If there aren’t any yet, then have the moderator refer to one of the pre-prepared questions.

11. Record the call and send everyone a copy. This shows a touch of professionalism and transparency.

Chris Peterson is the founder and president of Vector Firm (, a sales consulting and training company built specifically for the security industry. To request more info about the company, visit