Due to the current pandemic, virtual selling has become the go-to method of sales. While some industries, such as SaaS, are already familiar with this approach, many are not – particularly industries with longer sales cycles and complex sales processes that traditionally involve in-person conversations to ultimately seal the deal.
With this major culture shift for a high number of sales professionals and organizations come pitfalls – traps and obstacles that need to be overcome in order to maximize the chances of selling success. We’ll be discussing four common issues and their solutions in today’s post.
- The sales team isn’t tech-savvy
One of the biggest issues with virtual selling is when you have a tenured, experienced sales team that is exceptional at selling through traditional, high personal touch methods. They might not have the technological skills needed to make an easy transition to virtual selling.
Look at the sales tools you’ll be using in a virtually selling environment. Some you’ll likely already be using and your sales reps have familiarity with them. Others – particularly those requiring advanced knowledge – will require you to provide training, reinforcement, and support, just like you would with new sales skills.
Determine what tools need additional resources to get the team fully operational and carry out whatever training, reinforcement, and support is needed. Make sure those resources are available on-demand as much as possible rather than say, just a single two-hour live training session.
You might also want to consider dedicating a sales administrative assistant or junior sales rep to providing technical support – thereby minimizing issues and keeping the virtual selling process running smoothly.
- Clients can’t physically touch and interact with the product
The tactile experience is key to selling many products – even in the B2B space. With virtual selling, that critical connection between buyer and product is lost, and some buyers might be more hesitant about purchasing without that ability.
There are a couple different ways to go about this, depending on what you’re selling. If it’s something where you can send a sample for potential buyers to interact with, consider that strategy and schedule a virtual meeting where you can be there to walk the client through the product as they engage with it. This approach will not only replicate the physical experience, but helps them connect your face and voice to the company and the offering. It’s the closest you can come to the traditional sales experience.
If it’s not possible to send a sample (perhaps you sell CNC machines to manufacturers, for example), then lean on videos that show and demonstrate the product. You may want to do research by looking at videos of unboxings and product demonstrations that are widely available on YouTube. Take notes on how they display the product, what angles and lighting they use, etc. to create an immersive, sensory experience for the viewer. Collaborate with your marketing and video production partners on the design of the demonstrations, always keeping in mind what your buyers want to see and know.
- Relationship-building is more difficult
Particularly if your sales process involves considerable in-person communication, it can be much harder to foster a relationship with your pipeline. And since many of your prospects and leads are likely also working remotely, juggling competing demands that don’t exist in an office setting (such as homeschooling the kids), it’s tricky to figure out when and how to reach out to them.
Voice, video, and text. Use an omnichannel approach of contacts – calling on the phone, videoconferencing or short video messages, text messages and emails. These are all strategies that should be familiar to inside sales professionals, and they’re skills that outside sales reps will need to acquire and master to succeed in virtual selling.
One factor to keep in mind: Due to the social isolation many people are experiencing these days (including your buyers), contemplate leaning more heavily on the phone and 30 seconds or less video messages. Your voice (and face in the case of video clips) can help create strong personal connections. And by keeping your videos short, they’re much more likely to be viewed – even something as simple as a “Hello, hope you’re doing well. I’m here if you have any questions about the CNC 9000 that you’re considering,” can have an outsized impact.
- Technology can break
Your videoconferencing software is having problems. The prospect you’re trying to conduct a discovery with is having horrible reception in their house. There’s no end to the number of issues that can crop up when trying to sell virtually.
Have backup solutions in different formats. Demo video refusing to load? Have a PDF that breaks down the features and processes of the product to email to the client. Can’t hear the client because the kids are yelling and won’t be quiet? See if you can switch to text-based communication or worst case, reschedule, sending an email that summarizes what you were able to cover before the screaming started.
Above all, the biggest thing you will need to adjust to virtual selling is patience. Few things in life go entirely smoothly or completely as planned – especially when the changeover is rapid, as is the case with many organizations adopting virtual selling. Keep calm, know that you just need to work through the problems with the solutions we’ve outlined here, and remember that eventually this will pass, and you’ll have come out of it with new skills and knowledge to make you an even more effective, empathetic sales professional and organization.