Business has changed this year. Every facet has experienced a form of adaptation, but none more so than those which relied on in-person interactions, like sales.

Salespeople have had to take a long, hard look at the formula they have grown accustomed to and create a new method for how to build relationships and engage potential clients.

I’m going to teach you three steps on how to have success in the virtual world, which will help you now…. and also in the future since this impacts of COVID likely will cause some permanent shift in the way business is conducted.

Come Prepared. The setting has changed. You’re no longer meeting for lunch or spending a half-day with a prospect at their office. You now have thirty minutes over Zoom with more distractions and shorter attention spans than ever. This means you need to be more organized and prepared than before. For example, if you are meeting someone for the first time, set-up a video conference and bring visuals to share so it feels like an in-person presentation. Before you engage make sure you know the platform well so there are no hiccups when the meeting begins. Another tip to consider – regardless of your meeting format – is to send notes in advance and consider asking your counterpart to prep something as well in order to get the most out of your shorter time together.

Make it Personal. It’s not as easy to build a relationship virtually, but it can still be done and the best formula is authenticity. To ensure this happens, mentally buffer five to ten minutes at the beginning of every meeting to talk about anything other than business. From where people are located to how they are doing in the pandemic to something you see in the background, all of those are fair game. This more naturally occurs in an in-person meeting – virtually you need to tee it up more proactively. Remember to never speed up the personal stuff. It’s better to spend time getting to know each other on video then follow-up with an email or a video message (services like Loom or Vidyard) to describe your offerings rather than skipping the personal and going right to business. This is the most common mistake we see salespeople make since March.

Always Bring Value. All of the time you spend preparing and getting to know your prospective buyer is only effective if you deliver value in every interaction. This can take many forms. It can be informational, educational, entertaining, or some other currency- like an article you recently read that is relevant to their business, and ROI calculator they can use to review your offerings, connecting them with another client that has gone through similar implementation, etc. What matters is that it is the right content at the right time. Every touchpoint needs to have a clear purpose and the method you deliver it needs to be the correct one. If it’s sharing the agenda you are setting for the meeting, email works great, whereas the decision between a video conference software like Zoom or a phone call for the meeting should be based on your prospect’s preference and the content you aim to present or discuss.

While the basics remain on how you sell (being prepared, focusing on the relationship, and delivering value) it is critical you strike the balance of the relationship-building with high-value delivery. Our recommendation is twice the visuals, presented at two or three times the pace, and to be engaging so the other side is speaking half the time.

A Bonus Tip. One of our golden rules, make it easy for the other party. The easiest way to do this is to take the friction from aspects of the engagement that are just tedious, like scheduling and signing documents to then scan and return. Consider helpful apps like Calendly and DocuSign to make this process smooth.

These valuable lessons for selling virtually will help you now and in the future as we eventually enter a new environment of what will likely be a blend of in-person and virtual for years to come.