By Eran YessodiApril 22nd, 2023

The rise of remote work and virtual meetings has brought forth a new set of challenges for salespeople. One significant obstacle is building trust with clients and partners in an online setting. This post explores the missing non-verbal cues in virtual sales meetings and how redesigning the user experience can help reintroduce these cues to build trust more effectively.

The Trust-Building Process:

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful business relationship. In face-to-face meetings, trust develops gradually through a series of intentional interactions that reveal the salesperson’s authenticity and vulnerability. However, in virtual meetings, this process is not as straightforward, largely due to the absence of non-verbal cues.

Non-Verbal Cues: The Missing Link

Non-verbal cues play a vital role in building trust during in-person meetings. Three types of non-verbal cues that contribute to trust-building include:

  1. Casual discussions before and after the meeting: These informal conversations help break the ice and create a relaxed atmosphere, making it easier for participants to trust one another.
  2. Personal presentation preferences: In physical meetings, participants consciously or unconsciously judge one another based on their attire, body language, and other visual cues. Virtual meetings lack these cues, making it difficult for participants to form impressions about each other.
  3. Eye contact: Direct eye contact is essential for building trust and rapport. In virtual meetings, it is challenging to maintain eye contact, as participants are often looking at their screens rather than their cameras.

Designing Solutions for Virtual Trust-Building:

To overcome these challenges and enhance trust-building in virtual sales meetings, the following design solutions have been proposed:

  1. Session Bars: This concept involves separating the meeting into three distinct sessions, with designated casual discussion times before and after the formal meeting. This separation allows participants to engage in informal conversations, fostering trust-building.
  2. Self-Prep Setting: This feature enables users to share their personal presentation preferences with others before the meeting. By understanding and respecting one another’s preferences, participants can create a more harmonious virtual environment.
  3. Glimmering Frame: This innovative design aims to simulate eye contact by using gaze-tracking technology. When a participant looks at another person’s video window, a glimmering frame appears around their window, signaling that they are being looked at.

While these design concepts show promise, there are limitations to the study. The main limitation is the lack of user involvement in the ideation and design process. Future research should involve users in the development of prototypes to gather valuable feedback and validate the effectiveness of the proposed designs.

The shift to virtual sales meetings has highlighted the importance of non-verbal cues in trust-building. By thoughtfully redesigning the user experience and interface, we can reintroduce these cues into the online meeting context, helping salespeople foster trust and improve their success rates in a virtual environment.