In a world still grappling with the effects of a global pandemic, virtual selling is no longer a luxury — rather, a necessity.
A study by RAIN Group reports that 71% of sales organizations today manage over half their business activities virtually. For perspective, this figure used to be a mere 27% before the pandemic.
As such, virtual selling isn’t a novel phenomenon. It’s been here for decades in a form that most of us used to know as “inside sales.”
However, while inside sales usually refer to selling over the phone or email, virtual selling further extends to selling through video conferencing solutions like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet.
There’s more to it though. This article takes a look at what makes virtual selling arguably more difficult than traditional sales and how you can take your virtual selling game to the next level.
Let’s get started.
What Is Virtual Selling?
Essentially, virtual selling refers to a set of processes and/or technologies that help sales reps communicate and engage with prospects and customers remotely.
Not only has this strategy been highly effective at ensuring people’s safety and business continuity during the pandemic, but it has also proven to be extremely scalable and cost-effective.
How to Succeed at Virtual Selling
Contrary to popular belief, virtual selling is a lot harder than selling in person. It takes much more effort to engage, connect, and convert a prospect or customer from behind a screen.
Sales reps need to be extremely focused and attentive so as to read the customer’s body language and emotional cues over a video call. They also need to be excellent listeners and communicators and take their selling skills to a whole new level to succeed.
With that in mind, here are some useful virtual selling tips and strategies that every sales rep can benefit from.
1. Create a Virtual Environment That Looks Professional
Given that the world has woken up to the many benefits of remote work, virtual selling might continue to be an extremely viable alternative — even when face-to-face meetings are feasible.
So, as a sales rep, it’s important for you to create a professional setup for virtual meetings at a suitable space within your home.
The first thing you need to ensure is that your background looks neat and tidy. Choose a clean and clutter-free area — that means no unmade beds or piles of clothing.
You could sit with your back against a wall or even a tidy bookshelf. Another option is to use a green screen with a digital background that most video conferencing solutions provide.
However, sometimes they can appear glitchy or amateurish, so it’s best that you test how they look before you use them in an actual sales meeting.
Choose a well-lit space — for example, one that faces a window. Alternatively, you could use desk or ring lights to light up your virtual office environment.
Remember to avoid having any lights behind or right above your face because they will cast shadows and make your face look weird.
You should also work on getting the camera angle right. It’s best to position your computer or camera at eye level or slightly above it. This will automatically tilt your head upwards which is more ergonomic as well.
As tempting as might be to stay in your pajamas while working from home, you must make an effort to look presentable in a video call.
Dress as you would if you were meeting your prospects face-to-face (even if it’s just from the waist up). When you look professional, it instills greater confidence in the minds of your prospective customers.
2. Get Creative with Visuals
As attention spans steadily continue to drop, you need to get creative with your virtual presentations if you want to engage your customers effectively. Here’s where incorporating interactive and visual elements in your sales presentations can help.
A Corporate Visions study reports that visual storytelling is most effective at moving prospects or customers further down the sales cycle. However, the same study also found that 87% of sellers rarely or never use interactive visuals to engage prospects and customers in online meetings.
This is, in fact, one of the biggest virtual selling mistakes as reported by 86% of buyers in the RAIN Group study.
Source: State of the Conversation Report, Corporate Visions
In the absence of engaging visuals, it might be very difficult for buyers to understand the value proposition of a product or solution, especially if it’s a complex one.
No one likes to sit through an entire meeting looking at boring chunks of text – it can send interested prospects packing.
On the other hand, adding some form of visual storytelling and interaction can lead to more productive sales conversations. So, be sure to add animation and movement to your sales decks.
You could even use an interactive deck and ask prospects to write something on your slides. This will keep them engaged throughout the presentation thus enhancing the effectiveness of your messaging and information retention.
3. Stay Sharp and Keep Distractions at Bay
Even the best of us struggle to stay focused and organized at times when working from the office. However, as ironic as it might sound, it’s tougher when you’re working from home, what with the kids vying for your attention and dirty dishes in the sink calling out your name.
Distractions at home are a dime a dozen. Not only do they disrupt your work, but they can also ruin the experience for your prospects and customers in sales calls. In fact, the RAIN Group study reports that distractions are one of the top virtual selling mistakes as can be seen below.
So, it’s very important for salespeople to build physical ways to keep distractions at bay — be it shutting the door or turning your phone and email off during sales meetings.
You also need to create a proper routine for your workdays and stick to it. Start working at a specific time every day, and schedule time for prospecting, follow-ups, preparation, and breaks besides calls and virtual meetings.
When it comes to virtual sales presentations or video calls, sales professionals often undervalue the need for prior preparation. This can be detrimental to remote selling.
In fact, according to 83% of respondents in the RAIN Group study, the lack of preparation is one of the biggest virtual selling mistakes.
So, take the time to research your prospects beforehand and prepare yourself for common questions or objections. You should also share your presentation deck or other materials with them well before the call. This can give them a fair idea of your talking points and help you manage time more effectively during your meetings.
Another handy tip for salespeople is to use pre-set email templates. You can use them to set the next steps after a virtual sales meeting, schedule follow-ups, or find new sales leads.
However, while templates can help you manage your time more efficiently, make sure to personalize your emails for every customer or prospect before you send them.
4. Invest in the Right Tools
The best tools for virtual selling are ones that can increase your efficiency by protecting your focus and can automate tasks to streamline your sales process. You also need technology that supports high-quality video calling and visual storytelling to engage your audience effectively. Let’s take a look at some great tools you can leverage for virtual selling.
Video conferencing tools have been reported to be the most valuable sales tool in 2020, with Zoom being the hands-down winner in this category. It offers an easy-to-use, collaborative virtual environment for your sales meetings with HD video and audio and supports up to 1000 video participants.
With interactive features like filters, polls, reactions, hand-raising, whiteboarding, annotations, and screen sharing, you can make your virtual product demos and sales presentations highly engaging.
Zoom offers a number of virtual backgrounds for you to choose from (or you can even use your slides as your background for an immersive experience). It also integrates with most calendar and email applications making it very easy to schedule meetings.
A CRM solution unlike any other, Salesforce enables you to prioritize, qualify, nurture, track your leads easily and efficiently. It offers AI-driven data and insights to help you identify the most viable leads automatically, leaving you with more time to focus on nurturing your customer relationships.
Last year, Salesforce introduced a new suite of solutions called Sales Cloud, specifically designed to help salespeople succeed at virtual selling.
This includes a new meeting management system that offers a 360 view of all participants such as their bios, customer history, and open support cases. This allows you to connect and engage with your audiences more effectively, even in a virtual environment.
Freedom protects your focus by blocking specific apps and websites on your phone or computer for a pre-determined period of time (of your choosing). It has the ability to sync across devices. Freedom is compatible with most operating systems including Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS.
Calendly can free up the time you would normally spend sending emails back and forth to decide and schedule a meeting time with prospects or customers. It’s quite easy to set up – all you need to do is share your availability and the software takes care of the rest.
It integrates with iCloud, Office 365, and Google calendars and allows for seamless timezone detection when you send your Calendly link to someone. They can then pick a suitable time slot for the meeting which gets added to your calendar.
A good salesperson understands the importance of building rapport with customers, anticipating their needs, and proposing solutions that can truly solve their problems.
However, it gets doubly difficult to do so from behind a screen. This is why it’s extremely essential to keep the focus on the customer at all times and use creative tactics that keep them engaged — even in a virtual setting.
Leverage the tips mentioned above to stay sharp and organized, and deliver highly engaging virtual sales presentations that help you crush every goal and meet your quotas every time.