Sales tips, leadership communication skills insight and more from Steve Giglio, sales training professional for more than 25 years.

Six Rules of Virtual Meeting Participation

Ever since we’ve all been forced into a business world where virtual, online meetings have become the norm, I’ve noticed from my coaching engagements that often the knee-jerk reaction to participating is to take a passive role versus an engaged one. And what I tell my clients is that being virtual is not being invisible; being virtual is being engaged. To do the former is akin to not being in the meeting at all and to do the latter makes you a valuable contributor to the meetings success. People will notice.

Below, I provide my rules to follow as you continue developing your virtual meeting skill….and a skill it most certainly is!

Six Rules to Virtual Engagement

1) Accept the meeting as a challenge.
Challenge yourself to be alacritous ( cheerfully engaged in the conversation) your enthusiasm enlivens others. Optimism is the new “cool”
Determine what you can add to the meeting that is positive, thoughtful, and prescient.

2) Create an agenda to share
Having an agenda actually controls the meeting or a portion of the meeting. Make sure your points are in their correct order.

3) Time it
First, find out from the meeting host how much time has been allocated for the meeting. Next, determine how much time you will be given so that you ensure you’re not running over the time. You don’t want to be the one who caused the meeting to run long or someone else’s time being cut. Set up your timer so you can see if you are on track or need to adjust so that you stay within your allotted time.

4) Know when to check-in
Plan how you’ll check in to confirm your contribution to the meeting. You need to know beforehand what will be expected of you. Contact the meeting organized and find out how much time you will have, what you will need to discuss, and what you will accomplish.

5) Don’t interrupt people/hijack the meeting
It seems so obvious yet, in some meetings I’ve participated in with others, certain people freely interrupt. It seems like it is even more easily done with virtual meetings and can really throw things off. Interruptions bifurcate the meeting and slow down the momentum of the meeting. Hold your points until you have the floor or can respectfully ask for it!  Doing otherwise is selfish.

6) Own and assert your message
Hold yourself accountable to being accretive to the meeting. Do not pass up the opportunity to participate in portions of the conversation. Avoid drifting into silence. I’d rather you over engage than not at all, providing that your participation forwards the meeting. Go back to #5 to discover the difference!

All you and I ever wanted to do is help others and be a solution. Now is the time to bring everything you’ve got to any meeting. Your energy and enthusiasm will lift others who may feel lost, marginalized, and alone. Think about that. You can be a bridge to others’ full self-expression from your courage and confidence in the meeting. You’ve got nothing to lose. And, when you debrief with your superior explain this desire to him/her. It will enliven them!

An Innovation Focus

“Maintain an Innovation Focus.”
-McKinsey & Company

This brilliant advice is important to share with you all. I believe that the more innovative you are, the more your clients will think well of you and want to follow your lead to help them recover from our global dislocation. And there has been no time in recent history when it is more important to be innovative.

Let me make one distinction…being innovative does not mean you have to recreate everything you do, all the time. However, it does mean that you are always looking for ways to improve and are ready to pivot when situations demand it. Case and point…during this pandemic shutdown, I realized I could no longer video record my clients giving their presentations/recommendations, which is an invaluable part of my sessions. With no more in-person training, I had to find a substitute. I needed a solution that would still provide value and let my clients see how they are presenting themselves. In short, I had to innovate. My solution was having each client record themselves via their phone, playing it back for themselves, and then initiating my coaching recommendations. Voila! Challenge solved.

I should note here that nothing I used for this solution was, in itself, innovative. Phones with cameras exist. Sharing videos between people is easy. But what’s important to understand is that I used these technologies to innovate a new way for me to do something that I’ve done for years…just never in this way.

And that’s the point. When you look at current challenges, it’s important that you assess the resources you have to meet each challenge and use your creativity to innovate a new way to accomplish the result you want. As you look at your business, determine where you can innovate your client deliverables. By doing this you establish a new protocol that gets noticed. Whether a client accepts your innovative idea or not, you have credentialled yourself as someone intent on leading the way out of this dislocation into a recovery that works for everyone.

Let me know if you’ve had any “light bulb” moments of innovation recently!  – sg

Discover What’s New with Your Clients

“What’s new?”

Everything. All of your clients have been affected in some way by the Coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic shutdown. No one has been immune to the impact, whether they got the virus or not. Whole companies working from home. Schools closed. Retail shifting heavily online, leaving brick-and-mortar stores empty. Videoconferencing the required norm rather than a “cool to have” option.

A lot has changed. People are adjusting and realizing that the way they’ve always done things may not work any longer. New thinking and actions are required. And I’ve been coaching my clients that they have to be part of that new thinking for their clients.

Prove You are Part of the Future

Our focus now must be to reconnect to our essential clients and prove we can contribute to their success. Connecting now is all about learning and understanding a client’s new challenges that you and your organization can help resolve. Essentially you are building a new cornerstone for revenue growth. The goal is to prove the value of your work and the relationship you have with your clients. They are in recovery mode, right? It’s your job to predict what their recovery will involve, how long it will take, and what it will look like. Your recommendations must be based on this vision so that you can meaningfully contribute to your client’s (and the world’s) recovery.

Begin Anew

Create an atmosphere of discovery to understand what your client must accomplish to drive profitability. Be ready to tell your client that the way you went to market before may not be the way you need to go to market now. Keep probing so that you truly understand where they are headed.

And then wait. Don’t make rash or too-quick recommendations. How you interact with your clients now is critical, so act as their sounding board first. Let the solution remain ambiguous for a while. That action drives trust and accountability. It also allows you to field the right team of people that can become the consummate solution team. Now you are ready to make recommendations that are based on the new future your client is facing.

With each client discovery meeting keep thinking: “What can we originate together?” The more you center your conversation on what you both can newly create, the more solid and transformed your relationship becomes.

Start Leading Again

As the Coronavirus crisis continues, and in some places gets worse, it’s hard not to feel a bit disenfranchised. We’re upset that our business life has been upended, our environment ripped away from us, and our teams scattered. We keep hearing people tell us, “You are not alone.” But it can sure seem that way, right? Well, imagine how your direct reports feel. Start leading them again!

Everything Has Changed…Except Your Job

The only way your team will adapt and function in this next normal is if you do. That’s leadership. And it’s what they need now, perhaps more than ever. Are your actions leading them towards the goals you set before the pandemic (or the ones you’ve reset during it)? Remember, your job hasn’t changed…just how you do it has. Working from home? OK, so are a lot of people. Getting used to using technology like Zoom or Teams to communicate with clients and your teams? Right…welcome aboard. We’re all doing that. Learning as you go about how to move things forward when everything isn’t as it has been? Yes, that is the challenge we are all facing.

Remain optimistic and connected

You’ve got to over-communicate now. No direct report should attend a meeting without being seen and heard. What’s at stake here is their self-actualization and experiencing their participation as additive. Check-in with your directs at least once a week, asking them if they’re okay and what they want to achieve in their business efforts the next week that you can support.

Make time for them. And come from your heart, not your head. Don’t miss out on developing your directs by being so intensely focused on business development. If they aren’t being as successful as you’d like, find out why first before you start offering advice. As I’ve said many times when dealing with clients, “stay in the pain.” This applies to your teams, too. Get in there with them, understand their challenges, and empathize with how things have been disrupted for them, too. From there, you can start to map out a plan that gets them back on track. Remain optimistic for them, even if they don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet. And most of all, stay connected. By listening to your team you make them valuable.

One last thing…it’s important to recognize and be grateful for the fact that you and your organization can retain your team right now. Many organizations can’t. Don’t take that for granted. You’ll be thankful you still have your team when things return to “normal.”

A Three-Part System to Virtual Business Development

If you are like me, each day during these times you often wake up anxious, skeptical, and then…hopeful (I wish it we in a diffident order). Well, so do our clients.

Understanding this and factoring it into our business development ideas and recommendations is mission-critical. Like I wrote in my last post, now is the time to relate, then sell.

Push vs. Pull Relating

Here’s what I mean. Recently, several Fortune 50 clients created exquisite presentations on the effects of COVID-19 and sent them out to their clients as a form of edification. While this process is a sound one, it’s not enough to drive client engagement or business development. This “push” action provided useful information but, it didn’t gather useful information. My clients needed to follow this up with a phone call to “pull” from their clients how the pandemic shutdown is affecting them, personally and professionally. That’s where the real relating happens!

Three Steps to Stay Relationally Connected

Here’s a process you can use to systematically, but with heart, engage with your clients.

Part one: synthesize two to three pages of important data that you will give to your clients. Think of it as a gift to assist them in underwriting their business going into the second half of this year when we slowly and tentatively begin to emerge from our virtual hibernation.  The truth is we will all emerge. But are you helping your clients come out of this smarter, more commercial, and effective?

Part two: call them and walk them through the data and linking the data you sent directly to their business. This shows how affirmational you want to be and how prescient you are relative to their challenges. Take time to listen to their reactions. Use probing questions to draw them out and get real intel you can use.

Part three: facilitate a brainstorming session using the data you sent to support the commercial recommendation you have that will truly help their business. This part defines your relational behavior. Don’t sell them on the recommendation, just discuss it. If your recommendation is solid, they will draw the link…you won’t have to.

Above all, relate to your clients now and uncover their “new” pain that you can mend. Staying connected at this level will bolster your status as a trusted adviser well into the future.

Good relating!


Pick Up Share By Relating, Not Selling

As I mentioned in this video, “Three Things to Help Client Relations During the Pandemic,” now is a time to relate to your clients and customers, not sell.

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t do any selling. You can…but it must come from your client’s request, not yours. But before you even get to that point, you must find out more about their current situation, how they are handling the global shutdown and pandemic, what affect it has had on them personally, and what impact this will have on their short and long-term goals. Ultimately, you will pick up share by relating at this level during a time when so much has been upended.

Make a Contact Plan

I always say that when you systematize your process, you take the ‘guesswork” out of your client relationships. That’s even more true in these times of uncertainty. So first, make a list of your past twelve months of clients. Determine what the last contact you had with them was, the result, and if you had intended to follow up. Once COVID hit, a lot of those plans probably fell by the wayside, which is fine. But you need to know where you are starting up again with each client.

Contact with Intention

Next, contact them. Your intention should primarily be one of relating, not selling. This is the time to ask about them and their families. It’s so important that you be interested, not interesting. Don’t use this conversation as entre into your selling objectives. Rather, take this opportunity to connect. The more you relate to your clients now with the intention of strengthening your emotional connection to them, the more likely they will engage with you post-sheltering this summer or fall. If you don’t do this now, don’t expect to connect then.

It’s quite gratifying to just listen to clients you respect and enjoy working with. You also get to ask them about their thoughts on Covid-19, their organization’s plans for reentry, whether in September or January 2021. This will be very helpful for you to gauge when your next contact time will be. And, who knows, they might even say that they’ll need your advice shortly.

Converse with No Distractions

And as a tactical tip…as you engage via videoconference with your clients, make sure the experience is a seamless one. Test your audio and visual presentation so that you are sure it is performing optimally. Avoid the Five Pitfalls of Videoconferencing that I wrote about early in this pandemic. You don’t want any distractions when you are having these important conversations.
It’s essential now to provide a professional digital experience while being human and empathetic.

And a final note…if YOU are struggling with how to balance your professional life with some increased stress from the “next normal” created by the pandemic, let’s talk. Without trying to sound like an old Army commercial, I really am here to help you be the best that you can be. Stay safe. – SG

Coronavirus Communication Tips: Sit by Your Own Fire

A lot of us have extra time right now during the coronavirus isolation.

I recommend to clients that they “sit by their own fire.” Usually I mean this metaphorically but heck…some can do it physically, too! When you sit by a fire, it’s hard not to get lost in your own thoughts, right?  That can be a really good thing. The big idea can come to you. Clarity about key issues arises. A long-ago forgotten detail comes rushing back to you. So, I recommend that you take time to sit by your own fire and give yourself some space to let this kind of thinking happen. It will remind you that you have value, you are good at what you do, and you deserve the attention of the clients you are trying to counsel as they go through this.

Why Downtime Matters

The Spanish philosopher, Jose Ortega y Gasset once said, “Life is fired at us at point-blank range with no time to think.” Often our survival mind kicks in and invalidates our confidence in a matter. In these uncertain times, it’s easy to spook-out. One negative thought about oneself can multiply like wildfire.

Don’t let it.

How you avoid this is by knowing your value because YOU declared it.

By knowing your true value/true gift to people you can pass through this false worry and engage with the world to make a difference. Most worry is false. In this time in our lives what you produce doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be genuine YOU.

Remembering Gratitude Daily

One idea to automatically change your chemistry is to be grateful for ten people in your life, every day. For the past year, every morning, I’ve consciously listed 10 people for whom I am grateful to have in my life…be it business or personal. This simple exercise makes me think about gratitude and starts my day with positive thoughts. You may find it hard to believe but it really has changed my outlook on the world. Try it for a week. I bet you’ll notice some changes, too.

Discover (or Remember) Your Gift

Look…we all need the confidence to do what we do. In these times, with a lack of direct contact and communication, it’s easy to think about what you are NOT doing or focus on when you did not provide value. So, I suggest two steps to get back in line:

First, speak with your partner or family member and ask for their support in reminding you of your gift. They will have no problem giving you that feedback. These close people see you in ways you can’t when looking in your mirror. You likely see faults, they see greatness.

Next, select a client that you’ll contact with your only purpose being to listen and relate, not sell. You must genuinely care about what this client is going through right now and listen intently, sympathetically, and without bias. Giving them the opportunity to “vent” issues without you having to fix them right away is a great gift you can provide if you conduct the call correctly.

In my next blog post, we’ll talk about how to manage that client call.

Three Things to Help Client Relations During the Pandemic

I don’t need to tell you that these are unprecedented times. While we wait for the next normal, I’ve used this time to consider how we can be even better at connecting with clients. It’s now, perhaps more than ever, that they need us. Everyone is going at this a bit blindly, right? Well, this is the time to shine the light for them. But how?

There are three ways that I’ve come up with that will further establish you as a trusted advisor. I will go into more detail in future blogs post but for now, here’s what I’m talking about:



Credentialing Yourself…Again

There are so many places through the course of daily life where we have to prove who we are. Just think of the numerous times you are asked to show your credentials before boarding an airplane. Have you ever considered how much you have to show your business credentials throughout your client/customer work? A very successful client often speaks about this for his team of advisers. Throughout his career, he’s honed the skill of credentialing himself.

Let Them Know Who You Are…Again and Again

Showing, even proving, who you are to your client takes the discipline, and humility, to know that it must be done in the first place. My client reasons that if he doesn’t do it… it won’t get done. Credentialing oneself means illustrating through your adviser-like behavior a level of professionalism and focus your competitive set doesn’t present. It means being consummately prepared before a client meeting and understanding how to carry yourself inside every meeting at all times. Client relationships are a series of encounters, like bricks in a building, each one supporting the next. If you stop laying the bricks, no progress is made.

That’s the “why” of credentialing yourself, the “how” of it requires homework.

The Process of Credentialing

As I often put forth, being prepared before a client meeting is step #1 of the process.

Step #2 is framing questions to a client in such a way that they realize how prepared you have come to the meeting and you have a solid understanding of their issues.

This requires us to have:

  • deep knowledge of their business
  • the desire to capture their precise objective
  • an ability to frame what is at stake for them
  • the expertise to link how their issues affect their organization
  • the skills to craft a solution with a critical path for them to follow

Keeping those skills fresh and present for your clients will keep reminding them of why they engaged you in the first place and that you are developing knowledge specific to their business. Try this process out this month and let me know how it works for you.



Five Pitfalls of Business Development Virtual Meetings

Now that we’re getting into a slight groove with managing our time and realizing the opportunity of connecting to clients in our virtual world, I realized there are pitfalls we can find ourselves in without the right planning and execution.

Listed below are the pitfalls to avoid!

As long as we all just meet and talk, we’ll be okay.


Arranging and facilitating a meeting requires MORE planning than an in-person meeting. If you haven’t noticed, once a meeting is on, you hear crickets! To avoid crickets, create, circulate, and time out your agenda. Check-in with everyone at the start relative to their health and family’s health. Make sure you have a goal in mind for the meeting to produce. Assign a note-taker who will record action items, owners, and deadlines. Call on people during the meeting to get their input (and ensure you have their attention!). Once the call concludes, make sure the notes are distributed quickly. Throughout the week, follow up on the action items so that projects keep moving toward the agreed-upon goals.

We’re all smart, we’ll get to a solution.


You must first understand and acknowledge each participant’s issues and challenges. Factoring in these issues is critical to stewarding your meeting, not being its custodian. To get to a solution that is shared/welcomed by all participants, you must master the skill of synthesis. Meaning, synthesizing each topic as you move through your agenda. No one will do this except you.

The idea I have for my client will be welcomed.

That would be NO!

In the area of business development, be patient. Focus on strengthening your relationship with your client. This requires that you be interested in them BEFORE you become interesting to them. Listen first, fix second. Especially now, assume people are anxious and skeptical. Neutralize this by listening, as though you are the client’s “crash-cushion.” The best way to listen is to be the one asking the smart probing questions that get them talking. All will be revealed!

Every client should want this idea I have.


I realize you want to make a difference and recommend a product/service. Choose wisely. Now is the time to focus on your “A” Clients first. It is essential for them to know you emotionally care about them and you KNOW what their challenges are now. Not necessarily to fix but to know. That alone is comforting. The next step is to recommend a brainstorming call to air ideas together. This type of collaboration will demonstrate your willingness to partner rather than sell, advise rather than sell.

As long as I have my contact, my corporate relationship is safe.

Way No!

The only thing certain these days is uncertainty. Putting all your eggs in one basket/client contact is a risk you should not be taking. This is the time to pick up mindshare! You do this by determining every potential executive with whom you need to develop an indispensable corporate relationship. But don’t go around your current contact…that could backfire! Collaborate with him/her and determine how you could be helpful to their colleagues and get their opinion of the idea you have. Mutually decide if they would be comfortable setting up an introduction. Your goal is to make your contact look good by presenting options to their colleagues that can strengthen their business operations.

Above all else, be present for clients, listen and learn from them. They’ll remember your humanity during this difficult time.