Selling virtually, or remote selling is nothing new. Sales have been made over the phone for generations. What is new is the video technology, which has become an important component when selling virtually. And it’s not going to go away. CSOs believe that 58% of sales will be conducted virtually, even more than during the pandemic. They are preparing their sales teams with the new skills needed to perform successfully in the virtual environment. Advancements and new tactics are ever emerging now that even more sales reps are familiar with and are using technology to succeed. Sales people need to be fully proficient and up to date with the latest technology in order to stay even with the competition and more importantly, because their buyers are. Selling virtually is here to stay.
When sales in your industry continue to grow but your team’s sales are flat or declining, one of the problems could lie in the way your sales people are connecting with their clients and prospects. Buyers say that the experience they have with a sales person plays a big role in their decision to work with that sales person and his/her company. A virtual sales call is wrought with many dangers that could lead to frustration, exasperation and ennui on the part of the buyer, making their experience a negative one. Especially important is the efficient use of technology to smoothly move through the buyer’s journey, keeping the buyer engaged and focused on your message and not on the technology. Buyers in the future will continue to want to work virtually and if you’re not doing it or are clumsy doing it, your sales will fall off.
Many more companies will continue to operate their sales operations virtually now that we know it can work. Let’s face it, selling virtually is a very cost effective way to go to market. Sales people can be anywhere in the country, or even the world for that matter, and still be very effective. Travel costs go down. More time can be devoted to productive activities versus the downtime between in-person appointments. It’s easier to capture your information if you are sitting at your computer versus sitting in your car.
Another benefit is the ability to bring many more stakeholders together for the call. They don’t all have to be in the same place and don’t have to take out as much time to participate in the call. How many times did you lose a sale because the main decision maker was not involved in your calls and presentations? Plus, buyers like it!
So many times, when technology is being used in the course of a sale, the ”tried and true” gets lost. It’s like throwing the baby out with the bath water. The baby - in our case the “tried and true” - is the most important aspect. You still need to establish rapport and trust. You still need to find out the real problem in order to create a solution that will really solve their problem. And you still need to demonstrate how your solution will solve that problem. So while some things must be adapted, others do not.
The top challenge of virtual sales is getting the buyer’s attention and keeping the buyer engaged. Use of skills like relating, discovering and advocating must be adapted for the new delivery format, but they must still be part of the process. The use of visuals to get their attention and keep them engaged is different when you are in person than when you are meeting virtually. Preparation and planning how you will keep them engaged without overwhelming them with too much information becomes even more important.
It can become a vicious circle if there is too much focus on the virtual aspect of the process or not enough focus on the virtual aspect of the process. (See what I did there?) A good balance of focus in your preparation between the technology and the sales/buying process will help a sales person to get the outcome that he desires of his interaction.
It’s hard work to make a virtual call a conversation and not a one-way presentation. When that happens you lose the benefit of collaboration with your prospect. That collaboration is a definite sign of their buy-in to what you are proposing. It may also be true that the buyer is expecting a one-way presentation. How boring! And what does anyone gain from that?
Setting up expectations at the beginning lets everyone know what to expect. Learning how to ask the right questions to get your prospect talking about what is important and listening to the answers helps move the process along.
How many times have you seen someone on a virtual call who is too close to the camera so that all you see is their forehead? Can you imagine where the buyer is focusing their attention? Sales people need to be aware of the virtual image they are projecting to the camera. Being professional is still important in establishing credibility. Projecting the image of someone who is not blows the credibility out the window.
This is a major factor for companies wanting to do any of their sales remotely. In order to be effective, different skill sets are required. 74% of CSOs reported that they have recently or are currently updating their sellers’ skills proficiency for virtual selling and 61% are already investing in new technology to enable virtual selling. That’s a big investment.
The major concern though, is how effectively that technology is being used. Without follow-up and reinforcement, those skills will wither away. We know that practice, practice, practice is a huge determinant in whether or not new skills are being used. (of course, it needs to be the right practice too.)
Making a mistake can have some very real consequences. If a sales person has a bad experience with the technology their reluctance to use it again is very high. Their self-talk around it is very negative, if not catastrophic. Sales leaders cannot under estimate the power of self-talk, those conversations we have with ourselves that are guided by our beliefs. This self-talk can hold sales people back if they are comprised of self-imposed limits. Early in COVID, when the technology was still so very new for most people, one of our clients experienced a catastrophic experience using it with a prospective new client. They weren’t familiar with the technology that their prospect wanted to use. As a result, they fumbled at the beginning and never recovered. The catastrophe – a lost sale that was almost a slam dunk. The president of the company “walked out” on the call saying, “If they can’t get this right, how will they get what we want right?”
Advancements and new tactics are continually emerging as more and more sales reps become familiar with and are using technology to succeed. To stay even with their competitors, sales people need to at least keep up. If they are not comfortable with what you already have in place, keeping up will be even more frustrating.
This is probably the easiest mistake to make. The format is prime for allowing this to happen. Focusing on the technology can make it more difficult to read your buyer’s signals so you forge ahead. As my uncle always used to say, “Take a breath!”
With more than 50% of buyers being highly influenced by the relationship when they choose to buy, it can do some tremendous damage to your chances of moving forward. Buyers say that just 25% of sellers are very effective at building rapport & developing relationships. Are you part of the 25% or the 75%?
Virtual meetings need more organization and orchestration. Buyers get lost or frustrated in aimless meetings. There is no question that using technology takes more time in the preparation for the call. Some visuals are required to keep the buyer focused on what is going on in the call and not what is happening where they are. Questions are also important.
You need to master the technology. Practice before the meeting with someone at the other end. Remember the story about the lost sales due to poor use of the technology?
While these may seem like little things, they can have a big impact on what you do next. How embarrassing would it be to blindly follow your script because you didn’t see your buyer sit back and cross their arms, signaling disagreement?
When you can see yourself it is so easy to become self-conscious. When you are in-person, this doesn’t happen so you are more natural.
Credibility is more fragile on a virtual call. Projecting confidence instills confidence in your buyer. Dressing like you just out of bed – well who knows what that projects?!
Working from home presents its own set of problems. We have three dogs who know just exactly when to start barking – as soon as I turn on the call. While most people are understanding of these kinds of distractions, who knows for how long they will continue to be. It will be expected in the future that if you work from home you have set up a professional work space.
This is a continuation of the background noise. The appearance of yourself and your surroundings is part of propriety. You want your buyers to have confidence that if they choose you and your company, that it is a credible company and not some fly-by-night operation.
This probably the worst one to make. After all, what is the point of the call anyway?
These communications are increasingly replacing in-person, face-to-face conversations. According to research from Deloitte, 67% of the buying journey already occurs digitally, so in order to reach prospective buyers, a company has to effectively include the use of social media, email and websites in the mix of virtual sales. Video conferencing technology is the relatively new addition.
It is becoming the new normal. Today 75% of buyers are using more resources to research and evaluate purchases before they will even engage with a sales person. This shows a reluctance on their part to commit to time spent with a sales person.
In addition, customers are more reluctant to take in person meetings. Dynate conducted a survey in which they found that 92% of B2B buyers prefer virtual interactions. The Wall Street Journal’s survey said only 20% of those in procurement will meet with a sales person face to face going forward. They are finding that virtual meetings are more efficient and it’s easier to pull all the key players together, even from different parts of the world. Sales teams need to adapt to this new environment.
With new markets and expansion to global markets, finding new ways to connect efficiently and cost-effectively is an Important component of the strategy. Selling virtually gives sales people more time to spend in front of customers. The best performing sales people aim for 40 – 50% of their time in front of a buyer versus the average of 16%. Virtual selling allows for faster and more frequent conversations with buyers and the ability to interact with more prospects.
of B2B buyers prefer virtual interactions.
Over the past few years and looking ahead, virtual selling will be a permanent part of the way companies go to market. Strategic Enhancement Group can provide the training your sales team needs to sell effectively and professionally using technology and our tried and true counselor selling skills.
We can teach your sales team how to:
You need to connect and engage with your customers in a faster and more meaningful way, to continue to demonstrate your credibility and build trust virtually.
Understanding how to incorporate technology into your sales process may seem cumbersome, but it is actually a matter of learning the ins and outs of how technology can differentiate you and improve your effectiveness.
Good virtual meetings are energizing and contagious, and your Propriety behaviors make it happen. The best are clear in purpose, forward moving, bring value to the supporter, and run with efficiency and clarity.