Virtual selling is here to stay
Virtual selling is the reality many salespeople currently face with COVID-19. As we increasingly get used to the flexibility remote work provides, we might need to accept there is no change in sight.
But what if you could double your sales meeting per week, not lose anything on customer satisfaction, and increase your sales, simply by switching to virtual meetings?
This article covers what they did and more to succeed with virtual sales beyond your expectations.
1. Vital to selling virtually: build a relationship with your client
It’s always essential for a salesperson to connect with the client. Clients value this connection to decide whether they will trust the product or service. In a virtual context, turn your camera on, smile, and dress like you would for an in-person meeting. See the screen only as a detail.
Do your research beforehand so you know your client and the key elements they need. It requires time, but it’s essential to be on the ball for the client to sign a contract with you. Be authentic and genuine, and show the client that you made an effort and want to help rather than just sell something.
These extra efforts will make you more trustworthy and help you establish a good business relationship. Every element’s importance is magnified in virtual meetings since you can’t count on more frequent in-person meetings.
2. Understanding the client’s needs
Meetings are paramount to virtual selling, but getting your client engaged can be difficult. A RAIN Group Virtual Selling report, shows that 91% of respondents find it hard to keep their clients engaged during a virtual meeting. Try using tools to make a presentation that will allow you to use it to interact with your client instead of only sharing content.
One very effective way of keeping your client’s attention and even getting them directly engaged is through visualising your needs discovery. Get an interactive sales deck that allows you to discuss your client’s needs and objectives, and then click or write them on the screen.
This is a powerful strategy because the presentation then becomes owned by the client. Continue doing that with other slides throughout the deck if you can. By the end of your pitch, you will have created something with the client that can be shared and become common ground. And you will have nailed down your client’s needs.
It shows the client you adapt to their needs, not that they need to adapt to you.
3. Technology is your strongest ally in virtual selling
In a business world in which most of your landmarks are gone, your technology stack will be one of your best allies.
Video conferencing software is a must in virtual sales. Choose your favourite and master it to ensure your meetings run smoothly and you can leverage all the features. Consider learning how to use a few other popular videoconferencing software to accommodate clients who prefer another.
Now that you have your videoconferencing software, you need to determine how you will present. If you plan to be the main attraction, make sure your camera has a good recording quality and make yourself seen: dress for the occasion and pay attention to your body language. It will create a strong visual connection with your client.
You could opt to use visual supports, such as a sales presentation tool. A presentation will help keep your clients engaged and can bring value to your pitch. It has to be nice and engaging however so that the brain will remember the message. As researcher John Medina explains in his book Brain Rules, the brain responds poorly to boring supports.
4. Communication is key in virtual selling
When your time to connect with a client is limited, you need a strong communication strategy. It can mean sending frequent emails, building marketing or product materials, holding online meetings or conferences periodically, or simply making calls. In a nutshell, it means keeping in touch with the client base.
Working remotely, you need to commit to it 100%. Be attentive, engaged, intense, and energetic because you need it in virtual selling. Communicating online through a screen, attracting, and maintaining your clients’ attention is much more challenging than in person.
Be authentic and be yourself. It instills confidence and clients appreciate it. You can also choose the place where you will do the meeting. If possible, hold it from your home office rather than your living room and dress like you would for a regular meeting. Those are elements you can control easily, and they will make you look more professional and genuine.
5. Practice active listening to gain trust
Building on our first tip, listen actively to your clients to understand their needs, and build a strong and enjoyable partnership. According to research by the RAIN Group, the second-highest factor influencing clients’ purchase decisions is finding a partner that listens to their needs.
Start during the initial sales meeting and continue during subsequent conversations. Make clients feel like you are on their side, and they will want to work with you. If you are only interested in making money, they will know and feel it.
Talk about ideas, inspiration, and value for the client. Focus on making your client the center of attention. Online sales decks with information you can fill out as you present are excellent to make you and the client come together and build something.
6. Selling virtually and Social media go hand in hand
Social media is not appreciated or mastered by all, but there’s no doubt it can be a powerful virtual selling tool. It allows sharing information quickly, reaching a broad audience, and interacting with it.
Companies can establish and maintain visibility when doing it physically at events is not possible. It’s true not only in the context of this pandemic but also in general as business shifts to the web.
An overwhelming majority of potential clients are active on social media. This fact alone should encourage motivated salespeople to start using social media as an efficient communication vehicle. Written posts, short videos, and interactions can attract interest.
7. You need an online tracking tool
Don’t think that you will get fewer leads or options because the business is more virtual. It only means that you will have to pursue them more relentlessly and can use help from technology.
You can schedule calls or check-ins with new or current leads to keep communication lines open. Even though more business is conducted virtually lately, it doesn’t mean fewer contracts are being signed. Holding webinars or conferences for potential clients to discuss a topic related to your services can also attract interest.
When you send materials, use a tracking tool if you don’t already have one. It can send emails – and the slide deck for example – to your clients and tracks the results. You can see who reads your emails, who interacts with the content you sent, and how they interact with it. The information it provides will help you identify the next steps of your discussions with clients.
Tracking tools bring value because they help you approach your client. They also bring value to your client because you know how to address their needs better. You save your client time by having a richer and more meaningful conversation immediately.
8. Maintain relationships with past customers
Your client should be more than a name on a sales agreement. Make your business relationships about collaboration and partnership. If you implement the other tips, put your client first, and understand their needs, you will gain their trust.
Trust brings respect and continued business. Sometimes, however, the business relationship can come to an end for various reasons: the head office could try a different provider, a change in systems might make a service no longer relevant, etc. But that’s not a reason to completely cut ties.
You never know how your past clients’ business will evolve. They might need your services again in 5 years. Keep in touch with them, and you will gain references for your other prospective clients, helping you make additional sales. A quick email takes little time to write and can go a long way.
9. Selling virtually is about staying organized
Research shows that at least 25% of people struggle to stay focused during an online presentation. For salespeople, that means having to always be on top of everything to be ready to prepare, adapt, and deliver their pitch in an engaging way.
It takes time: researching the client, understanding their needs, building a sales deck, etc. It does pay off to be prepared and use the right tools however, as it makes you more agile and able to accommodate a client in a split second. In this context, it’s a good idea to keep a strict structure.
- Administrative tasks: Stay on top of your paperwork by planning time every day or every week to fill out your spreadsheets or online sales tools.
- Meetings: If you would’ve had a meeting or conversation to review something at the office, do it over a videoconference instead of via email.
- Sales deck tools: Use professional online tools to prepare your sales deck. Some tools allow you to modify your slides very easily and choose which ones to include with a few clicks. That way, you are always ready for a presentation that fits your client.
In an increasingly virtual business world, the expectations are changing rapidly. Stay organised to be ready for every opportunity and adapt to change.
10. Virtual sales need a touch of excitement
Finding ways to keep your clients engaged and interested can be tricky in a virtual meeting. That’s why you should use specialised tools to create engaging visual materials. By supporting what you say with a compelling sales deck, you are connecting the eyes and the ears. It increases the likelihood of your client remembering your message.
By visualising what you are saying, you give your client a better opportunity to follow you, see what you say, and understand what you mean. Technology has a more prominent place in our lives and we are more demanding. Clients want a personalised experience in their company colours and with their logo that revolves around them.
We respond better to exciting materials, contrast, or movement. The human brain remembers nice relevant visuals more easily than long sentences on a white background. An interactive and exciting sales show that engages clients lets you dig deeper and get a better sense of what they want and how they feel about what you say.
11. Model Customer-Specific Impact
Forget about generic pitches. Personalised presentations yield better results. When preparing your meeting, do plenty of research on your client online or anywhere you see find it. The more you know about your client, the more relevant your presentation will be. You will go from a salesperson to a trusted advisor. Now that’s an excellent promotion.
Some interactive presentation tools allow you to add calculators to the presentation. For example, they can let you calculate the impact of your product on your client’s revenue. It has tremendous value for the client. There are few more effective tools than one that shows clients directly what you can bring their business.
You can adapt these tools based on the client’s industry or operations. The bottom line is they let clients visualise what you say. And as we said before, connecting the eyes and the ears is a winning strategy.
To recap: use the right tools to speak to your clients’ needs
The current pandemic is completely changing business. Salespeople have to adapt quickly, sometimes with little to no guidelines. As in-person meetings are declining, new ways of engaging with prospective and current clients emerge.
In this virtual setting, leveraging the right technological tools allows connecting with clients in a more meaningful way. Those tools also allow salespeople to create engaging visual presentations that will keep clients actively listening – and hopefully participating. Ultimately, the tools can play a significant role in building a relationship.
Of course, technology can’t do it all. Client research and active listening remain essential. But combine both and you have a winning strategy.
Get your tools in order and start selling!