The way business is conducted in October, 2022, is profoundly different than it was just two years ago. In-person sales were disrupted by the Covid pandemic.
The selling process has changed since then, as have customer’s expectations. Empathy, active listening, and deep product knowledge are still highly valued. The new environment requires reps to add remote communication skills and a mastery of virtual meeting technology. Likewise, sales management needs to adjust.
In this article, we reveal important remote selling techniques for virtual selling and provide practical tips on how to be most effective, given the challenges and opportunities for virtual selling.
VIRTUAL SALES MANAGEMENT
The basics of sales management are unchanged. Providing reps with product understanding, relationship skills, and market knowledge are essential in every selling situation. This article focuses on the unique challenges and opportunities for virtual selling and sales management.
- What digital materials and capabilities best support remote sales teams?
- How are virtual sales processes different?
- What platform skills do reps need to acquire to win big in remote sales?
- How can managers be assured of consistent brand messaging across a sales team?
- What tools can managers used to measure rep performance?
BUILDING THE PRESENTATION
Sales stars ask the right questions, uncover prospect motivations, and solve problems with conviction.
A key role of management is to provide the materials and structure that make it easy for their sales people to present their product, handle objections, and efficiently close deals.
PowerPoint decks are the standard, base unit of presentation content. Today’s sophisticated conferencing platforms allow decks to be uploaded and quickly customized for each prospect. Other materials can be easily integrated to enhance meetings including:
- Agreement Signing
- Secure Transactions
- Animated Gifs
It’s best to structure presentations for frequent, conversational interactions. That can be as simple as including a question every third or fourth slide, or as complex as doing a virtual tour through a cardiovascular system. When reps turn prospects into active participants, the chances of sales success rise as much as 400%!
Polls and surveys run the risk of feeling forced and contrived in one-on-one meetings. When they reveal industry thinking, however, they add interest and value. Everyone wants to know how industry peers think about common issues. Drawing participants into thoughtful industry conversations changes the role of the rep from product flogger to valued consultant.
Shared spreadsheets allow participants to test financial assumptions. “What’s the difference in monthly cost if we make a larger down payment?” and “What does the ROI look like in the first 3 years?” When prospects change the data, they become more deeply engaged.
At REACHUM a popular integration is pre-recorded video. A 15-30 second clip from top management adds incalculable value when it seamlessly supports a rep’s product message. REACHUM makes this quick and seamless by enabling recording directly into the platform. Vodium is a terrific add-on, a virtual-teleprompter that allows executives to read into the camera.
There are many ways that advanced online meeting tools can be configured to provide deep engagement. The days of boring talking heads and slides are being replaced by selling experiences that combine information with entertainment and collaboration.
CREATE A TRUST RELATIONSHIP
Sales experts from Dale Carnegie to John Barrow agree that trust building is an essential component of selling.
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
– Steven Covey
Sending a message or email with a reminder of your upcoming virtual meeting shows that you genuinely care about the prospect and that you’re here to help them on their buyer journey. We recommend a calendar invite be sent immediately after booking, followed by an email reminder first thing in the morning of the meeting and again 15 minutes before meeting start, a function that is automated by REACHUM with the meeting link included.
It’s best practice for reps to share a brief overview or agenda with participants beforehand so they can become prepared for the meeting and be focused on its purpose. C-level participants from major companies often require an agenda 48 hours in advance, to make sure they are well prepared for meetings! A little bit of work saves a lot of meeting time and brings you closer to your objective – finding agreement and closing the deal.
Excellent sales people follow up meetings immediately with email outlining the key findings, tasks to be done, and next scheduled meeting. On special occasions follow up with a hand-written, mailed card, a tactic which makes you stand out!
THE VIRTUAL SALES PROCESS
As the meeting time approaches, reps should observe these practices:
- Always be early to meetings. Budget enough time in between appointments to be prepared and go through a checklist. Confident presenting is a result of thorough preparation.
- Make sure you have the correct meeting link and that your equipment is working correctly.
- Research your prospect without making assumptions about their motivations. Be ready to draw them out by asking questions and practicing active listening.
Meetings are performances. Prospects are continuously scanning for facial clues and tells that indicate honesty, empathy, and confidence. There are a few simple rules for reps to follow to achieve the best outcomes:
- Assume an upright, confident posture leaning slightly into the camera.
- Fill the video frame vertically from shoulders up, leaving a small margin between the top of the head and the edge of the frame.
- Use hand motions within the frame for emphasis.
- Validate prospect comments by nodding and smiling, even when they fire off objections.
CONSISTENT BRAND MESSAGING
It’s a challenge for managers to keep brand messaging consistent across a sales force. In heavily regulated industries like pharmaceuticals and finance, it’s a necessity to keep reps on the rails or risk running afoul of regulatory authorities.
REACHUM simplifies oversight by allowing the replication and sharing of presentations to one or thousands of sales people. Sales and marketing managers build presentations which go through approvals before releasing them to the team. Updates are quickly distributed for team use.
DATA AND MEASUREMENT
Marketing and sales managers depend on data to inform their efforts. Virtual meeting platforms like REACHUM deliver high value insights on prospect interests and intent, as well as rep performance. Conversation analysis and interaction tracking enhance CRM records so that sales teams know why and when leads are ready to buy.
Today’s best virtual sales tools have a lot more going on than talking heads and Powerpoints. They have become veritable sales engines, delivering consistent sales messages and capturing rich intent data that puts them at the core of the marketing stack!