Wow, every day I get at least one blog post or email about selling virtually. You know it’s now common practice for great salespeople to practice our craft in front of a computer screen instead of sitting face-to-face with a prospect. Now I’m old road warrior and the virtual meeting is new to me. Or is it? For years I’ve used the phone to find prospects, schedule meetings, do follow up and yes even close business. So now I can do the same thing but get to see the face of the prospect while we talk. Amazing!
I’m a believer in learning from others. My customers, colleagues, my mentor and other great salespeople. So not being the expert yet in selling virtually, I’ve been studying it. Much of what you see here comes from The Rain Group, Selling Power, LinkedIn and my millennial family members. (There are links at the end of the post) Like everything we do in selling we get better with practice. Take what you find here and make it fit your selling style.
What is Selling Virtually?
It’s just like selling face-to-face but the salesperson is not in the same room as the prospect. The three most used tools are email, telephone, and video conferencing. Well, for old road warriors, only new tool is the video meeting. Great salespeople are already expert in using email and telephone. We have proven sales processes. Now instead of meeting F2F we meet using video conferencing technology. Here is what I’ve learned from others and my own experience using video for selling virtually.
You Still Need A Proven Sales Process
Great salespeople know the first step is building rapport. We begin by building trust and becoming a valuable asset to the buyer. Next is finding a problem we can solve for them and discussing their budget to solve it. Just like in the F2F world, great salespeople understand the buyer’s decision-making process and who can commit to spending money with you. We need to make a compelling presentation and ask for the order. And once we close the sale we follow up to make them customers for life. It’s amazing that we can do all this now from the comfort of our own home.
Begin With The End In Mind
Just like before the COVID disruption, we need to know what we want to accomplish before we write the email, dial the telephone or join the video conference. So we prepare. Most of what we do in advance selling virtually is the same as F2F selling. But now we have a new tool to learn to use. Here are my tips:
- Prep yourself. Get dressed for the video conference as you would for the F2F meeting. Get a high-quality camera. Position yourself 1.5 to 2 feet from the camera with a small space between your face and the top of the screen. Check to be sure you are seen in the best light. Remember you are your brand. Remove all distractions. Turn off all notices and other noise making signals.
- Prep your technology. Have a preconference technology check list. Curate your slides, videos and props. Choose a suitable background or use green screen for virtual background. Have back up plan in case there is a technology failure. Determine the meeting format: conference, information session or webinar.
- Prep your customer. Find out who will attend. All prospects in one room or on individual screens? Understand the role of each prospect. Send the agenda with your expectations. Get a sense of where they are in the buying process. Get permission to record the session. Send instructions on how to join the meeting. Send a technology check list for the customer participation.
When we did meetings in person we were confident, poised and in control. Great salespeople are all that and a bit more selling virtually. We are a producer, camera operator, video coordinator and host. And all we did when meeting F2F, we need to do in a video conference.
- Bring your energy. Great salespeople get fired up when meeting with prospects. Open the video conference in a way that commands attention.
- Start with rapport building. Yes, just like when we meet in person start with a question to get the prospect talking about themselves. “How are you?” is the classic. If you have common interests chat about those for a few minutes. This makes us human. Have a little fun, bring some humor but keep it professional.
- Establish control quickly. Review the agenda and get agreement. Confirm the end time. Then ask your kickoff question.
- Listen and observe. You know what you need from the prospect during this meeting. Ask good questions to get it. Watch for reaction in the face and body of the prospect as well as verbal clues.
- Take the temperature. Confirm what you heard. Make sure everyone is involved. Check the level of detail. Confirm the information presented is worthwhile. Are you keeping it interesting?
- Engage the participants. Use feedback questions. Write answers on virtual white board. Use props to make a point. Switch out of slide presentation for face time. Include stories to educate, inspire and connect. Add an element of surprise. Watch for “aha” moments in the customers’ reaction. Use short video clips to add “punch”.
- End the meeting on time. Allow time for summation and confirmation. Set the agenda and schedule for the next meeting. When the meeting is going well and more time is needed get permission to continue the conference. Of course if the purpose of the meeting is to close, ask for the order!
Don’t Forget Murphy
Remember Murphy’s law: anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Be prepared for upsets. In F2F meetings, we don’t have to deal with the virtual selling technology. Yet we still anticipate not all will go according to the sales call plan. In the pre-meeting info packet, explain the backup plan for tech failure. Just like in F2F meetings confirm often and be ready to change direction based on the customer feedback.
Selling virtually is a skill. Like all skills we use in finding, winning and keeping good customers, we practice selling virtually until we are expert at it. Each time we use our skills we get better. So now great salespeople go apply this skill to finding, winning and keeping good customers.
Lots Of Advice On Selling Virtually
Here are sources I’ve found useful:
Find someone who is expert at selling virtually and ask them to mentor you.