Virtual product line reviews (PLRs) gained popularity as a workaround during the Covid-19 pandemic, but some merchants continue to prefer them to in-person meetings.
Delivering your pitch from the other side of a screen may feel strange, but there are some advantages. The virtual format allows merchants to schedule back to back meetings without having to budget downtime for a conference room reset, and it allows businesses to avoid the hassle and expense of travel.
If you’ve been invited to a virtual PLR, here are a few tips for keeping your on-screen presentation just as polished, memorable and persuasive as it is in person.
1. Remember that in-person PLR prep rules still apply.
A virtual PLR may save you from having to pack your suitcase, but it doesn’t lessen the amount of consumer research and data review you’ll need to do to wow your merchant. Have your facts in order and rehearse your key points so you can be off-book and fully present.
It’s not just about selling yourself: part of being prepared includes taking time to familiarize yourself with your merchant’s specific goals and concerns so you can speak to them directly. Tell a story with your data, and make sure it ends in a victory for your retailer.
2. Make space for conversation.
One of the most challenging things about virtual meetings is the risk of missing out on non-verbal cues. The subtle signs that let us know when someone is confused, in agreement or waiting to speak don’t always translate on a Zoom call.
Overcome this by checking in with your audience frequently and intentionally. Ask for feedback and questions throughout your pitch instead of forging ahead to the end — and keep it conversational. Creating opportunities for interaction will put everyone at ease and ensure that you’re really addressing your merchant’s concerns.
3. Take the opportunity to add to your team.
Because you aren’t limited by travel expenses or a set number of seats at a physical table, it may be possible to bring more of your team to the PLR than you normally could.
In addition to all the main players, consider including someone who is simply there to facilitate and make sure that your audience’s questions and comments don’t get overlooked. It’s easy to get laser-focused on your talking points as you make your way through the presentation deck. Bringing in a team member to direct the flow of the discussion can take a load off your mind during the pitch.
4. Make it extra engaging.
Consider a virtual PLR from your merchant’s perspective. The trade-off for this efficient, convenient format is hours upon hours of screen time — do something to shake up their day.
With virtual PLRs, it’s even more important to avoid slide hypnosis and get your audience excited about your pitch. This is your opportunity to get creative: ship interactive elements ahead of time, arrange a VR tour of your planogram or gamify your presentation in some way.
Get your merchant out of their seat, and you’ll stand out from the competition.
5. Troubleshoot your tech.
Patience can be shorter online than in real life — don’t let technical difficulties cause friction during your pitch.
Rehearse each element of your presentation to ensure that everything works the first time, every time. This is particularly true if you are trying to coordinate something interactive in your merchant’s office. Be aware that things can also malfunction on their end, so have a backup plan that keeps your pitch moving.
Don’t let a surprise software update derail your presentation. Double check that your materials are in order, links are working, permissions are updated and you are comfortable using the conferencing platform of your merchant’s choice. The better you attend to these details, the easier it will be for your audience to focus on the value your brand brings to the table.
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