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Welcome to the Future of Sales (Hint: It’s Virtual)

July 08    |    Heather Muir

Virtual selling is here—and here to stay.
While virtual selling cemented itself as a necessity during the pandemic, research now indicates that the B2B world is never going back to the levels of in-person selling of the past. Sure, there will still be in-person selling, but it won't be nearly as prevalent. Buyers now recognize the benefits of virtual sales over in-person sales meetings. Virtual selling is simply less time intensive, more convenient, and far more cost-effective.

More importantly, evidence suggests that virtual selling closes as many deals as in-person selling. HubSpot research found that 63% of sales leaders believe virtual sales meetings are equally effective or more effective than traditional, face-to-face-meetings. But the proof is with buyers. According to a recent McKinsey & Co. article, a full seventy percent of B2B decision makers say they are now open to fully remote purchases, some even prefer remote human interactions or digital self-service.

If your sales organization is going to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by virtual selling, upskilling your salesforce to make sure they have a competitive edge is critical. As we’ve all learned this past year, virtual selling is fundamentally different than in-person selling. The nuances involved in making connections and building trust in virtual environments aren’t skills that necessarily come naturally. Creating highly engaging and memorable virtual meetings requires planning, skill development, and practice. If your sales professionals are among the 46% of sales reps who say they’ll be mostly selling virtually moving forward, it’s time to ready them for this new reality.

Mandel has worked closely with Fortune 1000 and hyper-growth companies across the globe. We’ve trained thousands of sales professionals to craft and deliver more effective messages, and engage with customer in virtual calls and sales meetings. 

If your sales organization is facing the challenge of upskilling a salesforce to sell virtually, here are three strategic ways your team can start to capitalize on the unique opportunities presented by virtual selling.

1) Virtual selling provides your teams an opportunity to differentiate, by projecting more professionalism than your competitors.
Companies devote a great deal of attention to the image of their physical spaces, from the appearance of their buildings and the layout of their lobby, to the design of their logo and marketing materials. The principle of branding still applies in virtual selling—and it can be achieved more efficiently and cost-effectively.

What are the technology must-haves for your sales professionals? A webcam with good resolution, flattering lighting, and quality audio. Each of these minor investments will positively impact what the customer sees and hears.

As we’ve all experienced, video backgrounds can either reinforce credibility or distract and discredit. Encourage your sales teams to think simple and professional—then test, and fine-tune, as needed.

Remind your teams of the critical human connection factor. Your sales reps should deliver material with an energy and impact that matches that of an in-person sales meeting. Not surprisingly, a large portion of our training for sales professionals this past year has focused on how to balance looking at the camera with referencing materials on a screen and “driving” a virtual presentation, to posture and how to read the room when there is no one physically in the room. As you might expect, attention-getting delivery is imperative.

If your sales reps project a well-designed professional image in their Zoom calls, every virtual meeting provides the opportunity to sharply contrast the experience with that of your competitors.

2) Virtual selling gives your teams an opportunity to deliver a more compelling pitch than your competitors.
Understandably, many professionals find it challenging to generate excitement and energy while sitting in a home office in casual clothes with the distraction of household noises.

And it is challenging. But that challenge represents an opportunity for your sales team to further differentiate by delivering a compelling and memorable pitch.

Up the interactivity.  By adding interactive slides throughout a presentation, your sales team can help keep virtual customers engaged. Additional tips that we recommend include posing questions in which the meeting participants are asked to respond, leveraging the chat window, and asking simple “raise your hand if…” scenarios.

Test your team’s online presence—and tweak. Best practices that we recommend for optimizing a salesperson’s online persona include:

  • Having your sales teams frame their video to allow themselves to use hand gestures
  • Leveraging vocal animation to project passion and empathy
  • Standing up, if possible, during their virtual presentations
  • Adding deliberate eye contact to the mix—especially during important points that need emphasis

Practice. Practice. Practice. Lead your sales team through an internal virtual exercise where each salesperson projects their meeting image to the team for feedback. Just a few changes can really impact the feel of the experience and add in more energy and interest. As we’ve written about previously, particularly in sales, pressure testing a presentation is critical to success. 

3) Virtual selling provides your team access to many more customer contact points, and lends itself to team selling.
Data shows a direct correlation between the depth and breadth of customer touchpoints and deal closure. Virtual selling allows your team the opportunity to easily improve the volume and quality of customer touchpoints. More frequent touchpoints allow sales professionals to better understand a customer’s challenges, and differentiate your solution by driving cadres of inside champions.

Virtual selling simplifies your team’s ability to create a myriad of touchpoints with ease. No more wasting time traveling or worrying about conference room availability. Salespeople just need to demonstrate a compelling reason for a short meeting with a new stakeholder. The logistics are reduced to a few keystrokes.

Another advantage of virtual selling is that it lends itself to expanding your internal selling team. Given that complex enterprise sales are best played by an extended team, now every valuable resource within your organization is available to help your sales team win the business. Both your Account Executives and SMEs can easily be in the same meeting, regardless of global location for every strategic customer touchpoint.

Uplevel your virtual presence today.
Want to start strengthening your team’s virtual communication skills immediately? Download and share our Best Practices for Virtual Presentations whitepaper now. Whether you’re looking for large-audience training for thousands of sales reps globally, or more focused workshops for smaller teams of a sales professionals in any geography, we’d love to talk to you about how developing your sales team to communicate virtually can move the needle for your organization.

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About Mandel
Mandel is the global communication skills training company for organizations that believe in unleashing the power and potential of their employees. As proven experts in the science of communication in a complex world, we help companies around the world discover new ways to help their people think and speak more effectively, and make every communication count.
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