Zoom snafus and scenarios - how can we do this better?

So I was on a Zoom call earlier today and noticed that all three participants had a different form of background. Person #1 had the classic company branded background, Person #2 had a fuzzy blur background, and Person #3 (me) had no background and just showed my office, warts and all. It got me thinking about selling in a zoom world and how many different permutations of situations you run into, and how we really haven’t thought collectively about how to navigate them.

For the example above, I personally like showing (and being shown) what’s going on in someone’s office as I think it lends an air of realism or authenticity - plus it gives you a chance to potentially make a connection based on whatever poster or office decoration they have. But that’s not necessarily for everyone and others can 100% feel differently with completely valid reasons. I’m sure we can all find other areas that require different “skills” to navigate. For example:

  • Camera on / camera off (I’m a huge camera off fan for internal meetings but often feel compelled to keep it on)
  • Lack of interactivity (Bueller…Bueller…)
  • People showing up late
  • Reading the room and getting body language cues (especially when presenting)

What else do you find you need to deal with that we never had to focus on when presenting in a predominantly in-person environment, and what are some of your suggestions?

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@andrew.gibian you actually triggered an idea in my head.

I am thinking logging into Zoom meetings with the camera off and having a joke (on sales) show. Maybe use it as an ice breaker!
Something like below.

When I see a background that make it appear like they are in the office, I will ask, “are you working in the office today or is that a background?”



What I get hung up on the most is wandering eyes. I think we all are guilty of it, so - in a way - it is what it is.

But there’s that point in a lot of Zooms (almost all?) where someone gets an email/slack/text and you see their attention shift. Sometimes it’s during the most important part of the meeting even.

It’s human nature to get distracted, so I think we all understand it happens.

Wondering how other sellers are maybe getting ahead of this problem to ensure more focused attention when the meeting starts, or if you ever have addressed the noticeable distraction head on, or if you tend to just accept that it happens and let it slide because it’s human nature and part of Zoom culture?

Hey @tim.hartwell,

Unfortunately I just think it is the new world we are in. Back in the day when we had office meetings and people started “taking notes” on their laptops, I eliminated the use of ppt and used whiteboards. This caused people to close their laptops or at least pay attention because it is the one and only copy (even though I created a hard copy as a leave behind).

Zoom/virtual is different. Not sure if this can change. Heck, I am starting to see more people not turning on their camera.


It’s the worst when you see it right at an important part - so frustrating, especially when they come back and ask about an area you covered :frowning:


but you gotta love the common responses…

(1) sorry my laptop was on mute
(2) my wifi is shitty

All are true, but both ruin the flow of the conversation.

I am sure there are some tips and tricks out there to keep people focused.

@greg.nishihira @andrew.gibian One thing I try more during presentations is going from screen share to the full gallery view of people. Breaking up the expectation of listen-only tends to re-focus people without having to put them on the spot by calling on them. It sorta forces the attention.

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I’ve lost 5-10 minutes of a meeting before because participants had a hard time logging in. They needed to update zoom and re-login etc. Doesn’t happen a lot but definitely frustrating when it does happen. Losing 5-10 minutes of a 30 minute call…

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@philip.osgood, I hate the 30 min calls, very little can be accomplished during this time. also, I am curious they are actually running late (since meetings are stacked) vs having an issue with logging into Zoom. I started asking for 45 mins and haven’t had any pushback.

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One thing I’d like to kick the tires on is when you’re waiting for the main person to get on (maybe it’s the decision-maker) and you’re on with just their assistant or some of their team that are advising, but haven’t been fully invested since the beginning of the deal process.

How are others creating meaningful small talk to: a) be memorable, and b) bring in the sales stuff a bit without spoiling the presentation?

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That’s an interesting one - like, we all know you’re waiting for the main person to come in but you’re left with the underling who may not even want to be there. I guess from my standpoint I just treat it like ordinary small talk and chit chat - if there is something I can do to advance the discussion then so be it, but otherwise I’ll just do my best to be pleasant and engaging. Definitely more awkward than in person though…


Hello @Rupert,

There are a few categories of people you will work with within an organization and all bring their level of value throughout the sales cycle.

We often talk about the importance of a Champion and making sure you are working with and building an army of Champions.

There are two levels below a Champion, (1) Coach and (2) Intelligence

A Coach carries many of the characteristics of a Champion, but they often either do not have access to power and/or have political clout. They are friendly, and will provide good information to help you move the sales cycle along.

An Intelligence/Intel person is usually someone lower level, worker-bee type who you can often find actual pain points and capture things your EB or Decision Maker may not be aware of.

To run a successful sales campaign you need to work all levels. In my mind, I am always doing discovery on every call/meeting. If you are genuine/authentic Intel people will provide you points to solidify your business case. You just have to go through the motions of building a relationship with them.

So to address your specific question, pull them in, be engaging, build a relationship, and always be discovering.

Such a GREAT post, Andrew! As I read through it, I was thinking about how I can relate with all of this and I feel the same way you do about internal meetings and camera off! LOL!

I think one of the things I’m mindful of is being PRESENT during Zoom calls (NOT Texting, typing, or looking at emails or other things I need to accomplish).

Also, the “Mute” button works wonders for people who “Forget” they’re on a call! :roll_eyes:

Such a great post! Thanks Andrew.

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One thing that can come up during larger group meetings is when there are some folks with cameras off.

Sometimes that gets explained (people may be eating or in the car), but sometimes people show up, cameras-off, and don’t engage visually.

Wondering how sellers approach this scenario — do you actively encourage more people to have their cameras on? Do you just go with the flow, and not acknowledge it?

And, overall, how do you get more people to chime in and directly interact (whether they are cameras-on or cameras-off)?

@Matt.Conley Doing an intros ice breaker around the gallery tends to help get people on camera sooner - even if just for that part - and plus you get some immediate engagement. Can also kindly ask for cameras on during that part. It doesn’t come off as aggressive, IMO. That simple ask usually puts you in a better place to get cameras on, and hopefully they stay on from that point on.

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@tim.hartwell Yeah, I find the roundtable ice breaker intro is clutch. Throwing in a fun/odd/funny question during that intro part can be a nice curveball that makes the whole meeting feel more lightweight and communal. And yeah, the icebreaker stuff always works better w/ cameras on.


honestly I just let it go. To @tim.hartwell’s point, people often turn their cameras on during introductions then often turn them off.

Depending on if I have someone in the meeting I am focusing on or not, I may say something like “Sorry Matt did you have a question?” or “Tim, what do you think…”. I often did this during in person meetings, especially when people were “taking notes” on their laptops. Call it the teacher in me. LOL!

If there is someone I am focusing on, for whatever reason, I usually focus on that individual then pull in supporting folks.

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Agreed on the coming in late aspect of Zoom. Seems as the years have worn on, the new start time is 2min after agreed, or even 5min sometimes. I believe increasing meeting time will help a lot there, but then that brings in another can of worms around calendar management.

One feature they should update on Zoom is when your guest joins (and you get an email saying they’re there) and then you immediately join and you’re sitting there by yourself for what seems like minutes. Then (finally!) the guest joins. Feels like an eternity, and may reflect poorly on the AE.

Hey @Rupert,

Not sure I see it would reflect bad on the AE.

Unfortunately, Zoom is not consistent, but I do get e-mails when people log into my Zoom.