Every sales blog I read is tackling Selling Virtually; so I’m going to add my opinion to the discussion. Great salespeople know there is a fundamental selling process to winning and keeping good customers. That process doesn’t change just because we can’t meet in person. The challenge for salespeople during this pandemic is to practice the fundamentals while selling virtually.
What’s Different Now?
Depending on how you sold the answer ranges from “not much” to “everything.” If you were already mostly selling virtually then the difference is minimal. But for the road warrior sales team now required to work from home it’s a major change. Even as the economy opens up companies are limiting face-to-face contact. Selling virtually, that is using video conferencing and the telephone to find, win and keep customers has become the new normal for old road warriors.
But we can learn from the Millennials who grew up in the digital age. Communicating online is their normal. As they move into decision making roles with their digital comfort we old road warriors need to change. The pandemic has just accelerated the change.
What’s The Same?
Buyers purchase from salespeople they like and trust. Regrettably as a profession sales has the bad rap of not being trustworthy. So our first priority is to build trust. The same skills we used face-to-face to build trust still work. The difference is we do it remotely by phone or video now that the social aspects of building trust are limited. Great salespeople put the customer first. Customers want to be heard so we ask good questions and listen. The conversation is about the customer’s business needs not our product or service. By being human and authentic we show empathy for the buyer. It’s a hard time for all of us professionally and personally. Great salespeople still need to become the trusted advisor to their customers.
Selling Virtually Uses Time-tested Skills
Every great salesperson has a repeatable selling process that works for them. Now is the time to take a look at that process to see how it works with virtual selling. For years now we have used the phone and email to convince the new prospect to meet with us. And we have used the phone to follow up and keep in touch with good customers. That should be comfortable for all of us now.
In fact during these disruptive times the best way to find new customers is through referrals. When your good customers send you to their friends, you start with a higher level of credibility and trust. Now is the time to check on your customer’s satisfaction level. Keep exceeding their expectations to keep them buying. When there is a problem, fix it right away.
Great salespeople strive to make every transaction a moment of magic. Some of our valued customers will be fired or laid off. We know they will find another job. Our responsibility is to empathize with them and help them network for a new position. When they do land we have the opportunity to win a new customer.
Selling Virtually Also Needs New Skills
Maybe we road warriors used FaceTime to check in with family in the evening while away on sales trips. That was the extent of our virtual communication. Now we need to be expert at video conferencing, telephone conversations and email communication. When you think about virtual selling, great salespeople still need to build rapport and trust before they get answers to the hard questions.
The best calls I’ve been on the moderator does a round robin check in with folks. Then the program starts. We can still have our few minutes of casual conversation before diving into the meeting. So plan some time at the beginning of the call to have the same conversation we did in person.
Video conferencing can be a simple two-way conversation or a sales presentation to a larger group. Either way, preparation is the key. Just like face-to-face selling. So do your research, set an agenda, prepare the presentation. Then rehearse until you are comfortable.
And don’t forget no matter how much you plan, it won’t go as you hoped. So be prepared to deal with the twists and turns. This is where video conferencing has the advantage over traditional face-to-face selling. On the video call you can use slides, short video clips, props and bring in experts to help close the deal. Great salespeople use all the appropriate tools for selling virtually.
Don’s Short List of Video Conferencing Tips
- Get and keep attention. Use a combination of live conversation, photos, text slides, and short video clips.
- Customer participation. Send the customer the agenda in advance. Include some “worksheets” to complete during the call. Use the interactive white board with both you and the customer making comments.
- Use props. Hold up objects and do a “show and tell” demonstration.
- Anticipate questions. Have a handy collection of product demo videos, customer testimonial videos and other quickly accessible tools to use based on the history of questions usually asked.
- Just like in face-to-face selling success stories, customer satisfaction stories and even humorous stories build trust and add humanity to the presentation.
(Check back next week when I will present the best of virtual selling techniques)
What You Can Do Right Now About Selling Virtually
- Learn what’s different in selling virtually than face-to-face.
- Check with customers about their virtual meeting comfort.
- Make sure your current customers are still excited to work with you and ask for referrals.
- Ask a virtual selling expert to work with you to improve your virtual selling skills.