(This post originally appeared on Forbes)
If you’re in sales, marketing, communications or service you’re likely using a customer relationship management system. But now that you’re working from home more often you probably have another tool that’s frequently alongside it: Zoom.
You’re using Zoom – or a similar video conferencing system – for just about every meeting now. But maybe you have the same question that I have: are you expected to turn on your video camera? Is it rude if you don’t? What’s the etiquette? What’s the right answer?
Zoom – and its competitors like Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts Meet and others – isn’t new. Most companies have already been using at least one of these tools long before their employees were forced to work from home as a result of the pandemic. Over the past few years, whenever I was invited to a conference call with a corporate client the invite usually came from one of these popular applications. Did I ever participate with video? Never!
I never gave it much thought. I like to walk around while I talk on the phone and not be forced to sit in front of my laptop. More to the point, I frequently look like a slob and don’t want others to see that. I’m not used to doing video. And besides, it’s just a conference call right? These people aren’t seriously using video too, are they?
Turns out, they are.
Significantly more people have been leaning on these video conferencing services over the past few weeks. For some reason – maybe out of curiosity or boredom – I recently decided to start taking my conference calls via my laptop with my video cam turned off thank you very much.
Turns out, on call after call, I was the ONLY one not showing my face! Everyone else was there, chatting away and on video. They were comfortable. Some had fun backgrounds. Some were in their living rooms. Others were comfortable doing other work and occasionally glancing up. But no one seemed to have a problem being on camera…except me! My square was a big, fat blank. And you know what? It looked…rude. Like who the heck was this guy, not participating on video like the rest of us?
It suddenly dawned on me that by resisting Zoom I may be hurting sales. I asked a few of my clients whether or not they use video on Zoom calls and almost all said they did. A few admitted that they aren’t crazy about it and shared some of my apprehensions. But I found that many of them actually enjoyed it.
As a sales person, the lesson was clear: in 2020 video calls are not only encouraged, but quickly becoming required. If your job revolves around a CRM system like me then you’re probably doing a fair share of calls during the day. It’s now time for us all to step up and start doing these via video, whether we use Zoom or other applications. Yes, it means putting on a clean shirt and brushing your hair (not that I have to worry about that).
But you know what? I’m convinced that doing so will help us close more deals and connect to our customers better. We get to see people’s faces and better interpret their reactions. We can look in their eyes – even over a screen – and have a clearer understanding of the meaning behind their words. Oh, and we may get a glimpse into their personal lives that might trigger a conversation which could create a deeper relationship (“you’re into origami too?”) based on common connections.
I’m sure anyone under the age of 35 reading this will say “duh.” OK, I admit I deserve that.
But of the many ways that the Coronavirus will impact our workplace models, the use of video conferencing will become not only normal, but expected. Because of this shift, I also expect that future iterations of CRM applications will either incorporate their own video conferencing features (some already do) or easily integrate with the more popular platforms.
So should you or should you not turn on your camera for that Zoom meeting? The answer is that you should. I know I will be.