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To think, two years ago, the top sales reps from any industry would have told you the secret to sales is relationships, and relationships are built in person. Now…. It’s a little different. Sure, solid, trusting relationships are still the foundation for sales best practices, but building that bond doesn’t require a physical, in-person handshake anymore. This article will explore Virtual Selling, including tips for success.

What is Virtual Selling?

The term “virtual selling” refers to sales-based conversations that take place fully online. Meetings are typically through video conferencing, arranged over email.  Even telephone calls are used sparingly during the process, instead, video follow-ups are more common and frankly, more interesting too. 

Now, with restrictions being lifted and the ability to meet in person again restored, Virtual Selling is still in demand. Let’s face it, many sales prospects enjoy the convenience of meeting online, even over the sales rep visiting them. They feel less pressure this way, make more thorough notes, and still explore the product info in great detail.

What are the benefits of virtual selling?

In-person meetings were great and can still be important in the sales process, especially if you’re at risk of losing a long-time client. However, it’s turning out that virtual sales have several advantages, including:

    • Cutting back on travel time including flights, driving, etc. It also allows more time for more calls. Previously, if you had to fly out east for a meeting on Tuesday, down south for one on Wednesday, and then back west for a meeting Thursday, you could only take three meetings in three days. Now you’re able to do all three meetings in one day. 
    • Saving money on the necessary travel, including flights, hotels, gas, etc. 
    • A larger prospect pool. If you were limited by location previously, only able to conduct business locally, you’ll find many people are used to branching out beyond local borders these days, making out-of-town customers more likely to consider you an option. 
    • Gaining buyer’s attention. 91% of sales reps surveyed said this was their biggest challenge. However, as you’re about to learn, you can use virtual selling to combat this and ensure you grab their attention. 
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF VIRTUAL SELLING?

What does virtual selling look like?

When virtual selling is done right, it finds ways to use digital elements, particularly video, to be more engaging through the selling process. 

First and foremost, don’t expect your virtual calls to run smoothly without effort. It’s critical that you make any steps the client needs to take as plain and straightforward as possible. So, prepare ahead of time.

Assuming that your potential new customer knows how to join your video call is the worst thing you can do. Prepare for any potential misunderstanding by explicitly laying out instructions for them. Include diagrams or examples with the instructions too. Start with how to join, how the platform works (and whether or not they need to download something in advance. Then include a backup connection method in case of technical difficulties. This can be done via email or directly in the calendar invite.

    • PROSPECTING: This has always been important but now that you’re competing with all of the other emails in someone’s inbox, sending cold emails can be quite challenging.

Prospecting while selling virtually should involve customized videos that can be made easily through a number of sales video tools such as Loom, or Vidyard.  Typically, a customized video is made using the webcam on your computer. It really is that simple. Prospects don’t want or need a  video that has been obviously manufactured, but rather one that appears genuine and unplanned.  Think of it as making a video for a friend. 

    • SALES MEETINGS: Virtual meetings are similar to in-person meetings but conducted by video. These types of meetings are usually held using a video conferencing application like Zoom.

If you generally handle sales meetings over the phone, you’ll appreciate that video allows you to better gauge your prospect’s body language and establish a better connection.

When a potential customer is confused or has lost interest you can pick up on this. Even positive feedback and body language are better understood over video.  You’ll be able to reply accordingly and keep the prospect involved in the conversation.  As a result, we recommend inviting your prospects to participate via video and encourage them to turn on their camera.

    • FOLLOW UPS: How do you usually follow up after a meeting?  Most reps agree it’s likely an email in which you summarise what you talked about in your meeting or check in on the status of your sales deal. However, your follow-ups should be doing more for you.

One of the reasons sales conversations don’t close, or just go cold is because you may be speaking with a “champion” rather than the actual decision-maker, or one of many.

This means you can only hope that the employee you’re speaking with is able to absorb the value you’re expressing and deliver it to the decision-maker word for word… but how often does that actually happen?

Not only is that rare, but what’s more likely is a brief synopsis of your conversation is shared, which doesn’t capture all the USP’s and other necessary info. Creating a video to recap your main arguments from the meeting – as a follow-up is one of the best ways to get ahead of this.

Now you can communicate your message clearly and in a format that’s easier for team members to share. You have two options for making sure the video is shared: (1) CC the decision-makers on the follow-up video, or (2) ask your champion to share it with their team. Then, using video analytics, you can observe who watched your video and for how long.

As you can see, from this perspective, virtual selling is very effective and efficient.

What factors influence virtual buying?

The particular targets you establish for your sales staff will change depending on your firm and the business across the street. However, any institution would benefit from including some overall sales targets in their team’s expectations.

Take a look at the sales objectives above and consider which apply most to your business. Discover weak points, high-cost losses, and areas which might yield long-term profits if improved today.

You will notice that the above sales objectives don’t stop once the sale has been concluded. This connection to the long-term customer relationship is no coincidence—it is only through aligning the long-term goals of your support, service, and customer relationship teams with your sales objectives that you can discover the customers that best suit your ideal customer profile.

Choosing your virtual sales tools

Over the last couple of years, video conferencing software has become regular household names. Brands like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Skype, GoToMeeting, and more are top of mind during similar discussions. Each has their pros and cons, in fact there’s a good comparison chart that PCMag put together that can help simplify things for you. 

Many of the platforms that cater to video conferencing are in the same ballpark when it comes to prices. They also have similar features, and require similar equipment. That being said, some of the best advice we can offer here is to pick a platform and stay with it. That allows you to become very comfortable with the software, which not only gives the impression that you’re tech savvy, but also allows you to better, intuitively help your client and solve their potential tech problems.

Aside from video conferencing software, there are other tools to consider to make your virtual selling, virtually easy. These include:

    • PREZI VIDEO. Instead of “screen sharing” through your video conferencing software, Prezi allows you to interact with content on screen, helping buyers picture data, and view case studies. 
    • OWLER. A news monitoring tool that can ensure you’re up-to-date on announcements, events, and all the necessary information to impress your audience. Think of it as a step beyond Google Alerts.
    • RANKTOOLS. Any business that relies on SEO (which is just about every business now) will find their marketing is more streamlined with RankTools. They assist with analysis and reporting and can even help you monitor your competitor’s sites, seeing what you’re up against. 
    • LUCIDCHART. Providing customizable interfaces, Lucidchart promotes collaboration on free-form diagrams. Think of it as your virtual whiteboard that also lets you organize, arrange, brainstorm, and more. 
    • AEROLEADS. Particularly helpful for B2B sales reps that understand how difficult and dull it can be to manually search for prospects and their contact information. AeroLeads scrounge for contact info, and stores it in an easy-on-the-eyes platform.
    • WINGMATE. Uniting your team to save time and sell more, Wingmate offers innovative and powerful CRM solutions that streamline your sales process. Learn more about the popular Lead Generating App here.

Tips for virtual selling

SET THE STAGE

From ensuring your backdrop is professional and non-distracting to dressing the part, it’s important to project the same image you would in person. Many of the video conferencing software apps mentioned previously provide virtual backgrounds, or blur the background, but none are as effective as a real, professional background. If you don’t like what’s behind you, then you’re better off buying a physical fake background like these than a virtual fake background. The latter is much easier to spot (and can be a little annoying). 

SOUND MATTERS TOO

Once you’ve perfected the visual, get to work quickly on ensuring a high-quality audio experience. Everyone’s setups are different, however, making it tricky to predict your buyer’s experience. That’s why we recommend starting your meeting by asking the buyer(s) if they can hear you well. You also want to ensure you’ve done everything on your end to provide quality audio. Run test meetings with co-workers in advance, or ask your team to sign on a few minutes early to check out each other’s audio.

CHECK YOUR INTERNET SPEED

Streaming video can be incredibly invasive on a network, slowing down the speed for the whole office. It’s important to ensure you have enough bandwidth for at least 1:1 video calling which is approximately 2Mbps up/down. If necessary you may also need bandwidth for group calling which is about 3Mbps up/down. 

 

With all this wonderful information, there’s one more thing we feel is important to stress here, and that is: the sales process still matters.

Many successful sales teams do share a sales process, but did you know that only 16% have that process documented? The remaining 84% just verbally express their beliefs and ideas. 

All teams benefit from a shared, documented sales process, and that includes virtual sales teams as well. Doing so streamlines the process and creates a more unified team. Learn more about improving your sales process, including lead generation and data from Wingmate here.

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