YOUR GUIDE TO IMPACTFUL VIRTUAL SELLING
No travel, no face time, the end of traditional networking. What does it mean for salespeople? More prospecting, more meetings, and more revenue — if you’re able to quickly adapt.
With the rise of the novel coronavirus, the business-to-business (B2B) sales world was catapulted forward five years in a matter of months. Many road warriors hoped the shift to virtual selling was only temporary, but the data is telling a different story: Buyers have fully embraced the change, so much so that Gartner anticipates that 80% of B2B sales interactions will occur in digital channels by 2025. The roadmap for the future appears fixed, but many sales teams have simply not accepted it. What does this mean for salespeople and organizations eager to master the art of virtual selling? Tremendous opportunity.
The gap between those who excel at the virtual selling process and those who struggle is wide — and it’s blatantly apparent to buyers. The sellers who are willing to put in the work now will enjoy outsized success.
This guide covers virtual selling best practices: You’ll learn how to authentically connect with decision-makers, hold a prospect’s attention, build a powerful business case for the value provided by your solution in real time, and move deals to close.
We’ll start by examining the factors that led to the rise of virtual selling before detailing the fundamentals of a successful virtual sales routine and tactical advice that you’ll be able to apply to your meetings.
The Rise of Virtual Selling
Selling virtually is a natural solution to the obstacles associated with increasingly independent buyers, complex B2B buying committees, and the desire for a digitally immersive and frictionless buying experience. The trajectory of the trip never changed — we just arrived much earlier than we thought.
Increasingly Independent Buyers
The past decade has dramatically changed how buyers interact with sellers. The rise of the commercial internet and content marketing saturated the market with valuable content, leaving sales reps with less opportunity to influence buyer decisions — particularly early-on in the sales process.
Today the gulf separating buyer from seller has widened even further. In fact, research by Gartner shows that modern buyers spend just 17% of their time with potential suppliers — and if they’re comparing multiple solutions, that could mean only 5% or 6% of their time is spent with an individual seller.
The end result is a modern buyer who knows their problems, is able to identify possible solutions, and can thoroughly educate themselves on the differentiating factors.
Complex Buying Groups
In the golden age of the road warrior, a typical buying journey was a linear progression through problem identification, solution exploration, requirements building, and supplier selection. Within the past five years, the journey has become increasingly complex. Now, the buying process does not proceed sequentially. You have on average six to ten decision-makers looping in and out of these stages, creating a convoluted web of buying processes and their associated needs.
In such a setup, it becomes difficult to successfully enable these buyers as they navigate their buying jobs more or less simultaneously. Naturally, it’s the reps who are always there at the right time with the right information who succeed in making it easy to buy. The appeal of digital interactions is difficult to ignore.
Digitally Immersive and Frictionless Buying
Customers want to buy on their own terms. In the past, that meant you were likely to encounter some buyers who embraced a virtual sales process, those who wanted nothing to do with it, and others who felt somewhere in between. However, the B2B sales world could no longer stay isolated from the implications of a culture that was moving toward an “anywhere, anytime” buying mentality at breakneck speeds.
As customers became more data-savvy and demanded instant access to engaging content and insights, the need for an aligned and digitally-immersive buying experience became increasingly clear. Siloed marketing and sales teams wouldn’t cut it. Pain points and possible solutions that didn’t directly address critical business issues specific to the prospect fell on disinterested ears. Pre-packed and non-interactive demos failed to impress.
Sure, the weeks of travel, dinner, and on-site visits still built impactful relationships, and the instinctual sellers were still able to wow crowded boardrooms with their presentation skills to close those crucial deals. But take all of that away — whether through a worldwide pandemic or the relentless march of technological progress and the slow realization that all of the dinners, hotel stays, and plane tickets may not have been necessary expenses — and the rise of virtual selling was inevitable.
Why Virtual Selling Matters
B2B Buyers Are Buying Big
B2B buyers are increasingly won over by the speed and efficacy of virtual sales, and despite the economic fallout of the current crisis, they’re still buying — and they’re buying big. According to research by McKinsey, 70% say they are open to making new remote purchases in excess of $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000.
There’s no waiting it out — buyers still have critical business issues they must resolve. Now is the time to capitalize. Sure, there will be increased scrutiny as sales reps must successfully differentiate their solutions and equip themselves with the financial acumen to win the fight for capital at the CFO level — but the promise of tremendous opportunity remains.
Revenue Increases Await
More time selling equals higher sales productivity. It sounds simple — and it is. Research by LinkedIn indicates that the average rep spends just 37.67% of their time selling. With this in mind, anything that can be done to cut down on non-selling activities should be prioritized. We’ll address ways to minimize administrative tasks and lengthy internal meetings later on, but, for now, let’s look at the time saved in a WFH scenario.
Networking/Prospecting: How much did it cost you to generate six high-quality leads in the past? Maybe four plane tickets totaling $1,600, another $400 for hotels, 40 hours of time, and $300 in expenses. That’s $2,300 and 40 hours right there — not to mention personal related costs like childcare and time spent away from family.
Now, you can do the same at your desk in around 20 hours — and if you’re dedicating 10 hours per week to prospecting using a strategically-choreographed and multi-channel approach, you’ll have this done in just two weeks.
Meetings: Let’s say you were used to booking at least three lunch meetings per week with potential customers. You averaged an hour on the road, 10 minutes securing parking, another 10 waiting to be seated — then there was the meal itself, the important “walking to the door” chat, and the trip back to the office. We’ll call it a four-hour ordeal and 12 hours spent this way each week.
Now you’re able to have six meetings per week at 45 minutes each, in under half the time. The time saved is well-spent on research, enabling you to take a prospect-centric approach and present as a valued business partner.
By employing effective virtual sales techniques, you’re now able to generate six high-quality leads in 20 hours — with no expenses and double your meetings per week — in under half the time.
What does this mean for sales leaders? Let’s look at how this plays out across a sales organization with 80 reps.
How does a 112% increase in revenue sound? Turns out, the path to the future is paved in platinum.
Beyond traditional structures where sales teams are responsible for all revenue, many organizations are finding success leveraging self-service options like e-commerce for lower-dollar deals. This frees up sales reps to pursue larger deals and can even help organizations increase margins as it eliminates negotiations — online, the perception is “price is price.”
Four Fundamentals of Effective Virtual Selling
Now that you see the appeal, let’s dive into the fundamental techniques you’ll need to master to set yourself up for success. The journey begins by fully understanding the challenges posed by selling virtually.
Acknowledge the Differences
For starters, you’re selling in a distracted space.
While we’ve all gotten better at separating work from home life, the confusion of the two spaces and the lack of routine is still impacting perceptions. Typical motivation from peers is in many cases absent. The sensory experience of the office along with its professional trappings, reliable tech, and the organic discussions that led to “Eureka!” moments — not to mention the venerable whiteboard — is gone. The art of capturing a prospect’s attention has also fundamentally changed. In face-to-face meetings, it’s unlikely that you’ll completely lose a potential buyer’s attention. Now, they might be on Slack, checking email, or shopping for groceries during your call — and you’ll be none the wiser.
Conversationally, you’ll also be at a disadvantage.
Without access to the potential buyer’s body language, you’ll miss nonverbal cues. Plus, your overall presence is diminished. Video platforms subdue even the most engaging sellers — you’ll have to come in at 110% just to present at 90%. And once you’ve mastered that, you’ll still have to build rapport in a world where meetings have grown increasingly tactical. After all, you don’t arrive at your next Zoom call 15 minutes early. There’s no “walking to the conference room” moment or chatting during setup. Traditional rapport-building moments have been replaced by more mechanical proceedings.
What’s the good news?
While these are the challenges common to virtual selling, they don’t have to hinder individual sellers. By staying process-oriented, taking a prospect-centric approach that prioritizes relationship building, and making an impactful business case around the value that your solution is uniquely positioned to provide, you’ll set yourself apart from the pack.
Sales has long romanticized the “lone wolf” seller who operates instinctually and consistently wows crowded conference rooms with their presentations — but virtual selling has changed things. Sales organizations that depended on sudden bursts of activity from “cowboys” are struggling, and it’s the process-oriented teams that are reaping the rewards.
Staying process-oriented is a pillar of effective virtual selling in four main ways:
First, it empowers you to prioritize selling activities. If you have a simple, repeatable sales process that you follow day-in and day-out, there’s no question of next steps and no productivity loss due to floundering.
Second, the very act of methodically sticking to your process drives consistency — which in turn builds discipline. A sudden flurry of effort makes for an excellent story, but daily habit is by far your most powerful ally. Without the proverbial brass bell and the support of colleagues, successful virtual sellers need to uncover ways to consistently motivate themselves. If you cultivate discipline and trust in your process, you’re far more likely to invest time in crucial activities that drive results, like cold calling. Yes, cold calling still works and is an effective virtual selling technique. In fact, it’s the second-most effective way to reach prospects.
Third, it lays the foundation for building impactful business partnerships. It’s no secret that networking has diminished in quality. In virtual sales, you must create the conditions that allow you to build and deepen relationships. You’ll need a strategic framework for facilitating and navigating the interactions that you used to move through effortlessly, on force of personality and instinct alone.
For instance, have you formed a plan for increasing your status as a thought leader? Are you effectively leveraging your LinkedIn connections, industry groups, and social selling best practices? Do you regularly work on your personal brand — showcasing your expertise in podcasts and webinars to drive leads? When you’re placed in a breakout room with a potential prospect, do you know enough about what’s happening in their industry to immediately engage in a thought-provoking conversation?
If you go through the familiar motions, you will not be rewarded with familiar results. You must deliberately map out the activities that build your personal brand, incorporate more time for research before each networking opportunity and meeting, and always strive to elevate the conversation beyond the transactional.
Fourth, process has a way of eliminating busywork. It’s all too common for reps to cling to unqualified opportunities because it makes them feel productive, or because they’ve backed themselves into a corner and are counting on those deals closing to hit quota.
Are you guilty of this behavior?
If so, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s important to realize that working unqualified opportunities is often an unconscious choice. It’s also crucial to realize that there’s no bigger energy drain than chasing deals that will never close. By the same reasoning, there’s also no better way to increase your win rates than by eliminating “no-decision” opportunities.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the need to continuously qualify prospects using a set of common criteria. Take an honest look at your pipeline in terms of:
- Decision Authority
Are you speaking with a decision-maker who has the need and authority to buy?
Resistance to change is a hard-wired human behavior. You must align on key business issues and why these challenges are worth solving.
Features no longer cut it. To be a truly consultative seller, you have to connect your unique capabilities to an individual prospect’s problems.
What’s in it for them? Connecting your solution to a buyer’s personal motivations creates urgency.
- Return on Investment (ROI)
The value of your solution must be clear, tied to an impactful financial metric, and aligned to business drivers — and you’ll need to make the case in real time.
Aligning with an organization’s internal buying process makes it easy for prospects to buy.
Put a mutually agreed-upon plan in writing that ends when the customer’s issue is resolved, and the value is realized.
Get creative if you can. Is it better to sign now and bill later?
High five! Objections are often a buying signal. If you meet them with confidence and dispel them, you’ll move the sale toward the close.
- Blind Spots
Stay up-to-date on the schedules of all individuals and departments involved in the buying process to avoid being blindsided.
If you’re out of alignment, return to the point in the sales cycle where the mismatch occurred. If you find that it can’t be addressed, it’s probably time to release that opportunity from your pipeline. After all, you’re already dedicating 10 or more hours per week to prospecting within a consistent framework, right? No? Start here.
Create the Conditions for Virtual Relationship Building
Remember two years back when Uncle Eli drank one too many glasses at Thanksgiving dinner and talked for 45 minutes, without interruption, about his new bass boat? Odds are he remembers the meal quite fondly — while everyone else likely recalls the episode as thoroughly boring.
People like talking about themselves, and people like doing business with people they like. It’s your job to elevate the conversation beyond the transactional, and getting people talking is the first step to building rapport, discovering common ground, and establishing the trust that will carry deals to close.
The trick is not overthinking your questions. Sometimes the simplest open-ended questions do the most for rapport-building. Just be sure to actually listen and engage with the prospect’s answers. Otherwise, your efforts to engage will have the opposite effect.
When it comes to networking, you’ll need to break from traditional approaches and be more deliberate and strategic about how you’re creating opportunities to connect with prospects. This means:
- Activating your LinkedIn presence by regularly sharing valuable content, participating in relevant groups, and following social selling best practices.
- Increasing your status as a thought leader by participating in virtual events, podcasts, and leading your own webinars.
- Orchestrating virtual networking events that focus on sharing industry insights and facilitating the transfer of knowledge.
- Attending virtual conferences and being an active participant in breakout rooms and during the Q&A portion of sessions.
Focus on Value
Everyone plans to sell on value, but the reality tends to play out differently. However, with economic uncertainty still top-of-mind for decision-makers, value will remain a hugely important factor in closing deals. With that in mind, it’s crucial to shift your mindset — and your prospect’s — to a value-based conversation by:
- Differentiating Your Solution
The foundation of competing on value is to differentiate your offering in your prospect’s mind — but being different is not the same as being truly differentiated. Capabilities can be useful here, but you must resist the urge to simply list features — each attribute must solve a problem or address a need that your prospect recognizes.
You can also leverage intangibles that your competitors don’t address — like terms and conditions, customer experience, or by demonstrating how your solution mitigates risk.
Ultimately, differentiation is a process that happens with each individual potential buyer. You must lead your prospect to answer the question, “Is this particular product or service worth the investment?” in the affirmative.
- Understanding the Business Metrics
A clear understanding of business metrics is essential to leading a value-based discussion. You’ll need to identify critical challenges, business drivers, ROI, and collaboratively build a case for realizing the value of your solution — and never forget that some problems simply aren’t worth solving.
Additionally, you’ll want to uncover personal motivations by understanding the KPIs that your individual prospect is evaluated on and how the changes you’re discussing will impact the perception of this individual within their organization.
- Quantifying the Impact
The sales process has bifurcated. You’ll need to have the best alternative on the market and win the fight for capital at the CFO level. The calculated benefit must far outweigh the cost and clearly demonstrate the quantifiable value that making the purchase will provide.
Conduct Award-Winning Virtual Sales Meetings
Your Physical Environment:
You’re entering an inherently distracted selling arena where your surroundings will speak volumes. It’s your job to set a professional tone and minimize distractions for everyone.
Start by logging into your preferred video conferencing platform and investigating everything your camera can see. Sure, it’s tempting to use a virtual background, but it all comes back to trust. Virtual backgrounds are simple and clean, but they’re not authentic. We know that trust is a crucial factor for closing deals: According to LinkedIn, only 40% of buyers described the sales profession as “trustworthy,” but 88% of buyers describe the salespeople they do business with as “trusted advisors.” And if trust is the ultimate goal, anything you can do to present more authentically will be to your advantage. However, authenticity won’t do you much good if your background is distracting. Really scrutinize things here. You’re not just looking for easy wins like a professional and uncluttered space, but for the small details that draw a viewer’s eye. For instance: You may have a beautiful office space with windows that look into your backyard, but will that blooming magnolia prove a distraction? What about the exciting modern art that’s hanging on your wall?
You’re aiming for an authentic representation of yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of some careful staging to provoke conversation. If there’s a curiosity in your background, viewers will be unconsciously drawn to it. Use this to your advantage by placing a thought-provoking item in your background. Perhaps you know the prospect you’re meeting with has an interest in endurance sports from your time spent researching their social media presence. As an avid cyclist yourself, you might include an old racing frame at the bottom of your bookcase or consider propping your road bike against the wall. Ultimately, you’re toeing a fine line here: It’s okay to include items that convey your unique personality and interests, but don’t sacrifice professionalism or risk coming off as inauthentic.
With your background sorted, turn your attention to where you appear in frame. You’ll want your camera to come in at eye-level. Consider a standing setup to ensure you’ll be able to project your voice and maximize the physicality of your delivery. It’s also best practice to leave some breathing room between you and your computer. Shoot for around three feet of space, enough to capture your head, shoulders, and the upper half of your chest.
All set? Look at the lighting situation next. Remember that natural lighting will vary throughout the day. Test your camera in the morning, at midday, and in the afternoon to see how your appearance is impacted. Always be prepared to adapt with auxiliary lighting that ensures your face is not in shadow.
The final matter is monitors. Ideally, you’ll want two large monitors. This will enable you to always focus on the meeting participants while maintaining access to crucial apps, the questions you’ll need to uncover meaningful value, and other key information such as solution features and CRM info from previous calls.
Cultivating the right mindset is crucial.
Whatever you need to do to clear your mind and find an articulate and confident space, make sure you allow yourself time to do it. This could mean listening to your favorite pump-up playlist, hopping on your motorcycle for a ride around the neighborhood, or sneaking in a 15-minute yoga session. Strive to make this a regular part of your lead-up process for high-value opportunities.
Once the meeting begins, you’ll need to draw on this confident mindset to overcome the typical challenges of video calls. Since virtual tends to mute everyone’s body language and can make it more difficult to read the nuances in facial expressions, focus on being more expressive, expansive, and careful with the pacing of your speech and reactions.
The Virtual Selling Environment:
Digitally building rapport and trust is an uphill fight. To uncover personal motivations of prospects, be sure to replicate those all-important “walk-in” and “walk-out” conversations by beginning meetings by asking open-ended questions that will enable you to find common ground. The key here is authentic human-to-human connection. If you’re mechanically running through a script and checking off the “ask a personal question” box, prospects will sense this and the exercise will be self-defeating. It can be as simple as asking, “How have you been since our last call?” or “How is your team doing with extended time away from the office?” The question is the easy part. To reap the benefits, you need to present as genuine and actively listen to a potential buyer’s answers.
You can incorporate space for these critical conversations and make the most of every digital interaction by designing a specific agenda that:
- Allows for intros, recaps, and “walk-in” and “walk-out” conversations.
- Includes date, time, duration, web conference links, and call-in numbers.
- Covers a minimum of 3-4 bullets and keeps everyone on the same page.
- Manages expectations such as “Please have your webcam on.” Calls where both parties have video turned on result in higher close rates.
- Includes blocks of time to meet with key decision-makers alone.
During the meeting, your communications must be clear, concise, and focused. By setting your expectations up-front, you’ll avoid potential misunderstandings. Keep in mind that repetition is often necessary to maintain the attention of distracted audience members. Small tactical best practices like arriving early, starting on time, and confirming that the allotted time and the set agenda are still accurate go a long way toward setting the tone.
Also, don’t be afraid to set expectations around behavior. No matter how good people may believe they are at multitasking, neuroscience tells a different story. Be prepared to proactively manage the virtual selling environment by asking everyone to shut down distracting apps. Often all it takes is leading by example: At the start of the meeting, you might say, “Okay, I’m closing down Slack, LinkedIn messenger, and anything else that might ping me to focus on the task at hand.”
Finally, strive to make the meeting as collaborative as possible.
Remember when wearing seat belts became law in your state or the use of hands-free devices was mandated? We know that directives aren’t particularly effective at driving sustained behavioral change. However, the results are often much better when you’re able to steer the conversation and create the space for people to come to their own conclusions. On a strategic level, this means knowing when and where to use open-ended, probing, and confirming questions to further the conversation. On a tactical side, this might mean inserting polls or running a real-time ROI calculator.
You only have one chance to make a first impression, and each time you have a virtual meeting you are either expanding, confirming, or erasing that impression. The name of the game is practice, assessment, repeat.
Rehearse and Record Yourself:
Few enjoy seeing themselves on video or hearing their voice on recordings, but training yourself to excel at virtual communications requires both. Practice until you lose your discomfort:
- Simulate the call with a co-worker.
- Log in to the meeting with a secondary device to see exactly what others will see when you share your screen and toggle between demos, presentation software, polls, breakout rooms, and virtual whiteboard sessions.
- Manage your expressions, posture, and environment.
- Switch between tools. Run things backward and forward to avoid being caught off guard if you need to recover certain points. If you’ll be virtually whiteboarding, practice what you will write and where.
- Practice using your voice as a way to stress points, highlight reactions, and underscore questions.
- Be authentic, poised, and purposeful.
When you step back to assess your performance, avoid being overly critical and be open to feedback. Start by considering:
- Your use of tools: Did the elements feel cohesive and flow effortlessly?
- Whiteboard sessions: Was the information easily viewed and accessible?
- The larger narrative: Did the presentation connect to what you had uncovered previously?
- End with a high-level overview of what was effective and what could be improved. Give yourself three big takeaways to guide future efforts.
Manage Your Voice and Expressions:
Practice using your voice as a way to stress points, highlight reactions, and underscore questions. Be authentic, poised, and purposeful. If you’re accustomed to using your hands as you talk, make sure that these movements are easily seen and convey confidence.
Don’t forget about facial expressions. The camera can alter perceptions or lag at times. Review your reactions to determine if you need to consciously alter their speed. For example, research shows that genuine smiles tend to be slower to form, are more intense, and last slightly longer.
Get in the Zone
You’ll need to be ready to go at least 10 minutes before your call starts. This means:
- Launching the necessary tech.
- Preparing to deliver your opener.
- Shutting down and closing every app that could interrupt you.
- Reviewing your previous call notes, agendas, and time allocations.
- Ensuring your camera is properly positioned and the lighting is optimal.
- Letting your reservations and nerves melt away by framing a positive intent for the meeting outcome.
Set the Tone
Managing expectations is more important than managing time. Help all participants become immediately engaged and ensure everyone is on the same page by:
- Starting on time.
- Confirming the length of the meeting and the agenda.
- Recapping previous conversations, stating the goal for the meeting, and asking if there’s anything to add.
- Making the mechanics of the meeting clear. For example, if you’re reserving time at the end to talk one-on-one with a key decision-maker, you might say, “We have 40 minutes for this call, then I need Tanya (the VP of Marketing) to stay on the line afterward for five minutes.”
Focus on Value
When it comes to virtual sales best practices, sellers’ ability to make a strong case for ROI is lacking. Activate this crucial component by:
- Quickly and efficiently reviewing the high points in 2-3 slides.
- Confirming that the key business issues have not changed and that there are no new problems.
- Restating your understanding of their optimal solution.
- Tying your solution to a meaningful financial metric and aligning it with the business drivers.
Match Their Terms, Body Language, and Thought Patterns
Choose your words wisely. When possible, it’s wise to match a potential buyer’s preferred terminology. You’ll also want to pay attention to the cadence of their speech. Do they speak quickly and forcefully, or do they tend to incorporate more pauses? If they speak slowly, odds are they unconsciously connect with others who do the same.
Only 8% of our intended meaning is conveyed through words alone — the rest comes from body language and context. Individuals tend to lean closer to drive home a point. They lean back when another is talking to give them space. They use their hands when elaborating on a point or explaining a concept. Be on the lookout for your prospect’s habits and mirror them.
Take it one step further by analyzing the prospect’s reasoning patterns. Do they prefer inductive or deductive reasoning? Deductive thinkers need you to get to the point before providing the background. Inductive thinkers need context before you hit them with the offer. If you’re able to match their thought patterns, you’ll be on your way to building an impactful business partnership.
Listening Builds Trust
Trust moves deals to close, but you’ll never earn it if you don’t cultivate active listening. According to research conducted by LinkedIn in European markets, active listening is selling’s most sought-after skill. While this may seem like an obvious point, B2B buyers have noted that sales reps’ ability to concentrate, comprehend, and respond in a constructive way suffers in the virtual realm. When in doubt, remember to confirm their point before addressing it.
Build Credibility Quickly
Meetings have become increasingly tactical, and executives guard their time like never before. If you’re able to secure that all-important first meeting, you’ll need to immediately establish your credibility. Value-based stories are the linchpin of effective credibility introductions. When you open a dialogue with a value-based story, it resonates with the listener that you will potentially bring them similar value.
Use Peoples’ Names and Include Humor
We’re all conditioned to respond to our names from our very first breath. Use names every chance you get to ensure your audience remains engaged.
If you sense there’s awkwardness in the room or stress levels seem high, don’t be afraid to use appropriate humor to help people relax and further rapport.
Finally, remember that authenticity leads to trust, and trust closes deals. Never underestimate the camera’s ability to tone down your personality. Be yourself, even if it feels a little exaggerated at times.
Close the Call to Close the Call
Before you dismiss everyone, be sure to lock in the next steps and set the time and medium for that next interaction. Let them know when they can expect the follow-up communication and what it will contain. Usually, you’ll want to commit to delivering a summary within 24 hours and ask that they commit to providing feedback by a specific date.
If you’ve reserved the last 5-10 minutes of your meeting to speak one-on-one with a key decision-maker, use this time to deepen your connections and focus on the “What’s in it for them?” angle. It’s personal motivations that create a dimension of critical urgency.
Keep Mirroring in Your Follow-up
Your follow-up message should mirror the tone of your intended outcome and blend in the atmosphere you experienced on the call. Writing may not be your strong suit, but remember to communicate to the level at which you want to be perceived. Use all you learned from your call and integrate the prospect’s terminology, formality level, speech, and preferred reasoning style into your written communications.
Manage a Remote Sales Team
Enable Sellers for Success
Not everyone has a fully-outfitted virtual selling space in their home. If you expect your salespeople to succeed, you need to equip and enable them with key virtual selling tools. Plan on spending roughly $500-$1,200 per rep to equip them with high-quality webcams, comfortable business chairs, auxiliary lighting, and multiple large monitors.
You’ll also want to examine your tech stack with greater scrutiny. It’s helpful to think in terms of functionality here: What functionality is essential? What functionality are you lacking? What functionality do you currently have that’s not being maximized?
The key here is to think beyond the venerable CRM and sales enablement software to identify solutions that solve problems exacerbated by the jump to virtual sales. Maybe you’re leading a team of low-tenure reps and your top priority is sales methodology and training reinforcement — if so, it could be time for a sales readiness solution. On the other hand, if you’re looking to maximize the effectiveness of that extra prospecting time that we touched on earlier, you might consider a sales pipeline generation tool that helps reps stick to a choreographed and multi-channel cadence. If you’re dealing with overburdened frontline managers, a conversational intelligence solution that helps direct sales coaching efforts could be the ticket to increased close rates.
Ultimately, it’s important to choose tools that can easily integrate with one another to provide a solid foundation for improved sales productivity. Remember: You’re only looking to build a foundation here. While tech can help automate, accelerate, and amplify efforts, it will only take you so far. There are currently 8,000+ sales/marketing tech solutions on the market — if tech alone could solve all of the challenges it would have done so long ago.
Encourage a Focus on Process
As we mentioned in the beginning of this guide, the “cowboys” are struggling, and the process-oriented teams are reaping the rewards.
Staying process-oriented helps reps prioritize selling activities by eliminating productivity loss due to floundering. It also enables reps to build the power of daily habit and the discipline to commit to necessary activities that some sellers find tedious, like cold calling.
Keep your team on the same page by reviewing activities and expectations every day, and sharing goals and tasks during your daily stand-up calls to ensure the process stays top-of-mind.
Prioritize Targeted Sales Coaching
You understand the cause-and-effect relationship between methodically developing your sellers and improved sales results. Every day, one of your sales reps is likely working a high-value opportunity — but you won’t know unless your CRM systems are continually used and updated. If your team is outfitted with dual monitors, there’s no reason they can’t improve the quality of their entries and notes by doing this on-the-fly.
Managers should also adopt a long-term vision and stay abreast of the advances in AI and automation that promise to free sellers from administrivia and help them take an increasingly consultative approach.
Once you’ve identified the proper opportunities for coaching interactions, strive to incorporate strategic coaching into your routine. You’ll find fewer opportunities for impromptu meetings in virtual selling: Sales managers must now be much more deliberate about building trust, setting aside time for recurring coaching sessions, and being specific and critical with their feedback.
Research found that organizations with the most successful sales coaching programs invest two or three years — at least — to get it off the ground. When you expect quick results and move on after a year, your company won’t achieve the sales results you’re looking for.
Start Marking More Deals as “Closed-Won”
Virtual selling has completely upended the B2B sales landscape — and buyers like it. At the moment, the opportunity for success is huge, as many “road warriors” are still struggling to adapt. By focusing on authenticity, forging human-to-human connections, and incorporating virtual meeting best practices into each and every selling interaction, you’ll lead effective discovery sessions, uncover impactful value, and move a well-executed virtual sales process to its natural conclusion — the close.
If you take nothing else away from this guide, remember this: Less travel can mean more research, more prospecting, more meetings, and more wins.