Eliseo Manfron

About Eliseo Manfron

Eliseo runs both in-person and distance workshops and coaching sessions for B2B sales and marketing teams to collaborate better and increase efficiency. Increased collaboration and situational programs make participants walk away with newly learned skills and the confidence to actually apply them in day-to-day situations. Get in touch with Eliseo for advice on how to enable the extended commercial team doing the right thing at the right time with the right people: eliseo.manfron@perpetos.com.


Many of us have already engaged in video conferencing, both internally and with clients.

In this article we will give you some tips to avoid looking pale on the other side of the camera. We are not talking about make-up, but about the familiar concept of ‘body language’. It concerns a number of obvious things we refrain from doing in case of personal contact, but tend not to be aware of in case of remote contact.

1. Managing multiple screens

  • Make sure you have the video conferencing app on the same screen as your camera. Otherwise it will seem like you are looking somewhere else and not listening to the conversation.
  • Personally, I have put a small post-it note next to the eye of the camera to remind me that this is where I need to look and not at myself in the video.

2. Respecting the personal bubble

  • We all have a bubble of personal space around us, including on video. So remember to keep your distance. When I’m very close to the camera, the other party will immediately see that I have a big nose, and I don’t want that. So don’t sit too close or too far from the camera.
  • You should also avoid too much empty space around you. It has to seem like you are sitting opposite each other at a table.
  • A good guideline is a fist’s width of space between your head and the top of the camera.

3. Using gestures

  • Do not interrupt and use gestures even more frequently than during face-to-face conversations.
  • Raise your hand if you want to say something.
  • If someone’s microphone is muted, signal that you cannot hear them.
  • Give a thumbs up (or nod) to indicate approval and to encourage the speaker to continue.
  • Turn around or put your hand in front of your mouth if you have to cough. Be sure to mute your microphone! Some programs have a hotkey to temporarily mute the microphone.

4. Controlling your body and hands

  • Take care your eyes do not travel from left to right over the screen as this makes it clear you are reading something else.
  • Avoid putting your hands in front of your mouth as this suggests you have nothing to say or you intend to keep quiet so as not to voice your disagreement.

5. Asking impactful questions

  • Make sure to ask questions on a regular basis.
  • Address the audience.
  • State the name of the person to whom you are addressing your comments if you are meeting with several people at once.
  • Confirm approval of what you are saying or offering.
  • … just like in a personal conversation, but even more clearly.

Other precautionary measures:

6. Preparing the location:

  • We do what we can, wherever we are. But we always do our utmost not to be disturbed or distracted.
  • If you are not at home alone, this works both ways. You do not want to be disturbed, but you should not disturb the others either.
  • Never sit with your back to a window as this automatically impacts the quality of the video call.

7. Checking your equipment:

  • Make sure you have a reliable and sufficiently fast Internet connection, a well-functioning camera and a properly working audio system. If you are not used to teleconferencing, be sure to go online five minutes early to test everything before the start of the meeting and to avoid delays for the other participants.
  • Headphones are useful but can make your head hurt after a few hours. You should preferably buy a HD webcam with built-in camera that can be put on top of your screen. The quality will be much better and the video meeting will feel more like a regular meeting to your contacts.

8. Minding your appearance:

  • Dress as usual for the occasion. Wear a suit and tie if that’s your habit. Many people tend to dress a bit more casually.
  • Keep in mind to dress your lower body as appropriately as your upper body. You don’t want people to see your favourite shorts under a fashionable white shirt if you stand up. This doesn’t mean you should not get some fresh air and sunshine from time to time.

9. Taking into account the emotional aspect:

  • Distance affects presence
  • Try to increase your presence by using gestures, asking questions etc.
  • Communicate in a more personal and direct manner
  • Authenticity is even more important in video conferencing
  • Share your experiences; everyone is in the same boat
  • Sharing enables you to build trust and deeper connections

Optimise your sales productivity and improve your commercial fitness with one short action per day.

1. Pimp your LinkedIn profile

Update your photo, summary, value proposition, skills set… and ask your best-known linked contacts for feedback

2. Clean up your mailbox and get rid of useless newsletters 

Sort out emails, unsubscribe to what is no longer relevant to you and delete ads. Respond to emails you forgot about, even if you received them a long time ago.

3. Set up your videoconferencing place 

Set up a quiet and comfortable space to work with colleagues remotely and sell from a distance in times of social distancing. Test you video and audio material for an optimal customer experience.  

4. Prepare ready-to-use answers to five key objections  

List the most frequent objections that you receive and address the top ones. Write down the best responses to these objections and practice with colleagues in the most natural way possible.

5. Create your cocktail party pitch

The more you talk, the more your speaking fee drops. Prepare your to-the-point personal experience pitch. Try it out so that you appear and sound authentic.

6. Work out your top 5 discovery questions

Think about powerful questions to improve the outcome of conversations. Memorise them for future customer interactions.

7. Find out what your best customers have in common

Create a customer profile for customers you like to do business with. Look for prospects that meet the same criteria and start interacting with them. Keep in mind the tips for selling in times of social distancing.

8. Identify who inspires your most important accounts

Group customers by activity sector and identify their key influencers. Get connected with them, read their most relevant posts and leave comments.

9. Engage in web and social media competitive intelligence

Analyse how your key competitors are navigating this period of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). Find out how they communicate, what is new and how customers react to their initiatives. Identify their strengths and weaknesses and share with colleagues.

10. Build customer success stories

Choose a couple of different industry verticals and build your “happy ending” customer stories. Start with the positive outcome, the original situation and the negative business impact it was generating. End with how they are using your products or services today and take next steps with that customer when relevant.


In-person meetings are important, and this is what sales like, what gives energy. But now, none of it is possible. We may need to resist the temptation to binge watch Netflix. But what for? How can we be productive in these times? How can we optimize our time and continue selling during social distancing? 

So, the question isHow to sell in a time of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt? 

Correct? Then, take a few minutes and read on. Watch the recording of our webinar “Selling from home”

Grow relationships by putting the customer first 

Genuinely caring about your customers is more important than ever. We therefore not only need to maintain contact but also build deeper relationships. As we probably have concerns, our customers do as well. About the general situation, but also about how to maintain their business afloat. If our products and solutions can support their business, they will certainly be open to hear how we plan to continue deliver what is valuable to them. However, this will not work by talking about our business and products like ‘talking brochures’. More on this in our blog: ‘Are your sales people like talking brochures?

They will be curious to hear how (fast) we adapt to the new situation and how we can help them adapt faster as well. So, reach out and have authentic remote conversations geared towards getting past the current challenges. 

Become an expert in video conversations 

You want to focus on the quality of the conversation, not the channel. If you are not used to video conversations through Zoom, Webex, Teams, FaceTime or other platforms, practice with family, colleagues or friends. Make sure to properly install and test your audio and video. You don’t want the line to drop, or have trouble hearing what customers say. Ask feedback on your tone of voice and body language. Test how close or far from the camera you need to be in order to respect the personal distance, exactly like in face-to-face situations. Don’t forget that 97% of our communication is non-verbal. 

If you’re familiar with video, whatever the amount you dedicated up to now with customers, double or even triple it. Your customer doesn’t just need your product or service. Your customers need to know that you’re available and that you care! 

Don’t prepare but be prepared 

Prepare video calls even better than you do for live meetings. Content-wise and appearance-wise. Review your notes from your previous touchpoints and prepare conversation scenario’s. You also have to prepare physically and mentally. Some even dress up as they would on a visit in order to feel in ‘working mode’. All fired up. Everybody is working from home today, so there is no dress code as long as you are in ‘visit’ mindset.  

You want to know more on how to be effective in selling from home? 

[FREE WEBINAR]
Selling in times of social distancing

  How to optimize your core selling time and be productive
  What sales can do to be better prepared for the aftermath
  Take the opportunity to grow relationships and expand account coverage


Why sales coaching?

Research by CSO Insights has shown that sales coaching enables sellers to substantially improve their sales skills and so win more deals. The second benefit is that it allows sales managers to shift their focus from simply helping people to do their work to actually developing their skills. Which is surely an advantage, isn’t it?

But how?

Sales managers need to use coaching techniques, tips and tools. Even though some may have a talent for coaching, many don’t know how best to go about it. Sales management coaching programs help them gain the skills and self-confidence they need to integrate coaching as part of their daily routine. Fortunately, there’s technology available to help them. Sales coaching software doesn’t just make it possible to personalise the coaching, but also to measure it by looking at the sellers’ individual actions, monitoring their progress and providing a visual representation to make things clearer, rather than simply using their own perception, gut instinct and experience.

Sales coaching tools

Coaching isn’t the same thing as providing solutions or giving everyone the same advice. A good sales coaching tool can chart progress and zoom in on the lowest level of knowledge, and combine this with the extent to which this knowledge is actually applied.

It differs from eLearning or other content offered by Learning Management Systems (LMS) in this sense, because a sales coaching tool combines software for teaching sellers and ensuring they retain this information, stimulating behavioural change, making everything measurable, and providing suggestions for the management to reach the right conclusions and implement the right actions. Altogether, it forms an integrated solution that provides content exactly when it’s needed.

Enabling just-in-time coaching

This flexible (agile) method for developing sellers’ skills is called ‘Coaching Enablement’. It allows you to organise, manage and individualise coaching while ensuring sellers retain the information they’re given. It also provides dashboards for sales managers, higher management and HR. This means HR can now measure, support and adapt each employee’s development and the impact they have. Peer-to-peer learning is also provided.

A good example of this is ‘video pitching’, where the seller records an answer to a client situation using their smartphone, which can then be used as coaching input for the sales manager, and good examples can be shared with other team members. This enhances the performance of the whole team, contributes to continuous development and improves team spirit.

The main advantages of just-in-time coaching are:

  1. Identifying possibilities for personal development
  2. Building self-confidence
  3. Strengthening desired behaviour, knowledge and skills
  4. Installing a culture that stimulates continuous improvement for each individual and the team
  5. Measuring the impact on sales results

One might say the missing link, but I prefer the term “strong link”: the link that unites teams, creates solidarity and strengthens synergies.  I’m talking about the Sales Development Representative (SDR for short).

This is a new sales function from across the Pond, reflecting the current trend of specialisation of sales teams in the B2B sector. Times when salesmen had to do everything themselves, from prospecting to concluding deals, are definitely over.

Let’s take a closer look: first and foremost, why the need to specialise? And what is the difference between an SDR and an Account Executive or an Inside Sales?

Why should sales teams specialise?

Traditionally, salespeople were responsible for the entire sales cycle, from prospection over qualification and sales negotiations to the management of the customer portfolio. Today, sales teams tend to specialise. But why?

Three main advantages:

  1. Better performance: specialisation allows each team to excel in what it does
  2. More easily accessible and better organised data: systematic processing of data from different sources, structured and encoded in a follow-up tool like CRM
  3. Improved customer relation: prospects who are not interested are not bothered longer than necessary. Efforts can be focussed on qualified prospects.

In short, the SDR will do research, look for and qualify prospects before passing the torch to an Account Executive in order to turn them into customers.

What’s the difference between the SDR and an Account Executive?

Like any other community, the Sales community has its own language. But it’s difficult to find two enterprises who have the same definition for the terms Account Executive, Sales Executive, Business Developper, Account Manager or… Inside Sales. For the moment, we’re going to keep it simple and limit ourselves to SDR on the one hand and Field Sales on the other. In other words, we’re going to make a distinction between the person who stays at the company and the person who goes into the field.

  • The SDR starts his activities rather early in the sales cycle. His tasks comprise the creation of lists of prospects, as well as prospecting through telephone calls, e-mail and social networks. In order to do this, he uses IT tools (CRM, data base, web sites,…)
  • The SDR identifies prospects and starts negotiations before referring them to the Account Executives, whose responsibility it is to conclude contracts. This means that the SDR is the customer’s first “human” contact with the company
  • The SDR contacts and qualifies the leads identified by the marketing team, confirms that an opportunity exists and refers the Sales Qualified Leads to the sales team
  • The SDR maps the key players of the key accounts and provides support to the Key Account Managers for an optimal decision-making process

It is therefore the SDR’s responsibility to arrange the first face-to-face meetings as soon as the lead has reached a certain maturity.

Doesn’t that resemble the responsibilities of an Inside Sales?

Yes and no. What they have in common is the qualification of the leads. The Inside Sales qualifies the incoming leads but, contrary to the SDR, he doesn’t have to generate leads himself. The latter also performs outbound sales, which means he generates new leads himself and maintains relations with them. This requires a wider range of competencies than the Inside Sales: he has to control social networks, marketing campaigns, incoming calls and cold calls after a written and personalised contact with the prospect. If necessary he also makes demos. One might go even further and state that after the qualification, he is able to conclude a distance contract. This is the case for transactional sales or for solutions of low complexity and value.

In short, the SDR knows and controls the offer and the needs of the market. He is able to have a well-reasoned conversation with the targeted prospects, to challenge them to discover new perspectives and to arouse their interest enough for them to want to have a face-to-face meeting.

The SDR creates added value during the interactions. He optimally paves the way for the Account Executive, who will then continue the personal contacts with the leads.


Much has been said and written about the changes the digital age has to all commercial activities.
Specific for sellers you regularly read the following statements:

  • Customers have already completed 57% of the buying cycle before they want to meet a seller
  • The relationship is becoming less and less important and price is the most important decision criterion
  • Customers wish to meet our sellers less and less frequently

We have published 2 articles with more details and background about these themes. The first one is a ‘Checklist: What customers expect from your sales people’ in which you will find the 10 most important customer expectations.

The second article describes the most important market changes as well as how to overcome the resulting productivity challenges.

A recognizable example:

Thomas is Operational Manager for a logistics company with 23 lorries on the road. Tight margins in the sector brought the director of Thomas’ company to start looking for ways to cut costs. Together they’ve identified a number of issues that regularly cause problems, such as poor agreements about pick-up and delivery times and driving empty lorries back, all of which comes at a cost. Thomas’ bonus this year largely depends on him finding a solution!

How Thomas buys

He’s known for a long time that there’s software available for optimising the planning. And he’s already looked at how much it costs, but at the time he only saw the investment cost. Now, with pressure coming from management, Thomas decides to take to the internet again to get a global idea of the solutions available for his problem, work out roughly what it costs, and see how much it could help the company save in terms of unnecessary costs.

The conclusion of this ROI exercise is positive: Thomas finds that resolving the issue would cost considerably less than suffering more losses in the current situation. Then he keeps searching to see exactly what his company needs. He looks for opinions and feedback from peers, and tries to find out what differentiates the good software from the bad. He wants to know which providers are offering top notch solutions. And what differences there are between all these providers and their products.

With his list of ‘buying criteria’ ready, he invites three providers who seem to be offering more or less the same software. Together with his manager, Thomas decides to sign with the cheapest provider.

Sales reps still have an important role to play

There’s a good chance that Thomas’ story sounds familiar to many readers of this post. We speak with lots of companies whose margins are deteriorating in a price war with competitors.

But the fact that customers are smarter these days, and have already compared your product features with those of your competitors before ever contacting you, doesn’t mean that the salesperson no longer has a role to play. Online information isn’t always correct, for example, and it might even be irrelevant in the customer’s specific case. Buyers don’t always know how to get good value from the information they gathered, either. And that’s exactly how salespeople can help them – by leading them along the right lines.

Salespeople who succeed in the digital era often have this attitude:

  • Align the sales strategy with the phases the customer goes through in their buying cycle
  • Take the right action at the right time with the right contact person
  • Strongly believe that helping customers is their top priority

Read more about the CUSTOMER-CENTRIC SELLING open training, see if the next session fits into your schedule, and book your seat straight away:

CUSTOMER-CENTRIC SELLING open training

Click here if you want to organize an internal program on this theme and related competencies.


I used to be closely involved with a sales team at a medium-sized technology company. Nicolas, one of the salespeople there, often came away from meetings feeling a bit dazed, convinced that procurement’s only goal was to buy at the lowest possible price. But Bruno, one of his colleagues with the same types of customer, sells very successfully without always needing to lower the price. Is Nicolas just unlucky, or is there more to it?

What Nicolas isn’t seeing

Nicolas keeps falling into the same trap. He ends up negotiating on price because he hasn’t convinced the customer of his solution’s value, which leads to buyers trying to hammer the price down. Or he starts bargaining before other issues have been cleared up, such as delivery times or SLAs. And sometimes he simply gives up too quickly.

So what makes Bruno so successful?

Bruno, on the other hand, appreciates that negotiating actually means finding solutions. He understands his customers’ challenges and KPIs, and responds by offering them added value in his solutions. He keeps a ‘give and take’ list, which gives him self-assurance and helps him find a win-win situation together with the customer. Last but not least, he also always has a strategy and action plan. Customers see Bruno as a partner and adviser; he understands their situation and is there to help them.

Negotiating techniques

What’s crucial in negotiations?

  • That you, like Bruno, understand the procurement KPIs – there’s a lot more to it than simply buying at the lowest price
  • This knowledge gives the seller a certain amount of bargaining leverage
  • And that puts sales in a position to understand their discussion partners’ objectives and strategy, and predict their next move, so they can tailor their sales strategy accordingly

The moral of the story is to start negotiating as soon as the customer begins their buying journey, in the initial conversation. If you as the seller do everything right throughout the customer’s buying cycle, negotiating actually becomes very simple, even for complex matters. It turns the negotiation into a simple conversation that successfully concludes all previous discussions.

Read more about the COMPLEX NEGOTIATION SKILLS open training, see if the next session fits into your schedule, and book your seat straight away:

COMPLEX NEGOTIATION SKILLS open training

Click here if you are looking to set up a Sales Academy in your company


Marc has many years’ sales experience. But it’s still often difficult to make contact with the right decision-makers in prospective customers’ companies. He’s been trying to get his foot in the door of an international technology company for several weeks, but he keeps being sent from one contact person to the next. Marc therefore doesn’t appear to be making any progress, and is gradually becoming more and more frustrated.

Analyse problem situations as a team

In the next sales meeting, he decides to present the problem to his colleagues in a intervision exercise. Marc is the client, the other salespeople act as consultants, and their manager moderates and keeps an eye on the time. Marc outlines the scenario and the consultants ask factual, open questions. This is because it’s important to first have a clear picture of the situation before you can come up with any solutions. For example:

  • Who are you talking to?
  • Who is your most important contact?
  • Why are there so many contact persons?
  • Which questions should you ask?
    Etc.

Collective intelligence

Marc answers the consultants’ questions one by one, and then clearly explains what he expects from the participants: “I’ve got lost in the customer organisation. I’m looking for specific advice to structure my approach better, find the right angle, get my foot in the door and develop this opportunity – without wasting any more time on conversations with the wrong people.” Thanks to this clear question, the other participants can now give advice and offer solutions.

Marc in turn provides feedback about the advice and presents his action plan. He remains in control of the scenario and retains the solutions he finds interesting to get out of the impasse.

Finally, the consultants are given the chance to offer their opinion about Marc’s action plan, and the sales manager asks what lessons the team can learn from the collaborative exercise.

Everybody learns from a joint effort to find solutions

The strict procedures in Marc’s example force all participants to ask relevant questions and form a clear picture of the situation. There’s no competition between the salespeople – about who comes up with the best proposal – because Marc remains the master of his case. The consultants are forced to actively listen, and aren’t allowed to interact with each other. Marc gradually develops the exercise to find a solution for his impasse, using the advice that he deems useful. The group then helps him to consider his solution in detail.

This technique is called Intervision or Co-development and relies on Collective Intelligence. The solution is created through collaboration and collective efforts focusing on one and the same person: the customer.

Benefits of Collective Intelligence

This technique has a number of interesting benefits:

  • Strong sense of collaboration: everyone is prepared to help Marc and trusts the other participants, so any doubts and concerns are easily shared
  • Efficiency: Marc moves off the beaten track and tries to have faith in the new solutions suggested by his team, so he can integrate them in his action plan
  • Strong commitment to each other and the company: Marc’s case is taken from the daily reality – it’s the type of situation that all the salespeople in the team could come across. They now feel more connected to each other

Read more about the INTERVISION AND SALES TEAM COACHING open training, see if the next session fits into your schedule, and book your seat straight away:

INTERVISION AND SALES TEAM COACHING Open training

Click here if you are looking to set up a Sales Academy in your company


After a few weeks in his new role as Sales Manager, Eric has a number Coaching sessions scheduled. He already benefited greatly from the coaching he received earlier in his career. In fact, the reason for him being promoted so soon by his new employer is precisely because of the excellent coaching  which helped him develop his skills so quickly in a previous job. He has very high expectations for the one-to-one session with his manager, and is therefore preparing for it very carefully.

He explains his objectives and challenges in his first Wednesday afternoon session. His manager appears to show commitment, listening attentively and asking a couple of guiding, closed questions. When Eric then explains a difficult situation that developed within the team, his manager starts to offer some coaching advice: “You’re going to have to tackle it like this: …

This sets of alarm bells for Eric: that’s not coaching!

What is coaching?

Many managers are still convinced that coaching is the same thing as listening, asking a few questions, and then providing unilateral advice. But that’s not coaching …

So what is coaching?

Coaching enables your team to create new possibilities themselves.
And the person being coached is always the focus here.

The coach’s mindset

As a coach, you enable your team to come up with their own creative solutions by approaching the discussion with the following attitude:

  • Asking meaningful questions
  • Active listening
  • Offering constructive ‘feed-forward’

Read more about the COACHING SALES PEOPLE open training, see if the next session fits into your schedule, and book your seat straight away:

COACHING SALES PEOPLE open training

Click here if you are looking to set up a Sales Academy in your company