While many traits of top sellers overlap with those of top virtual sellers, some are of particular importance when selling virtually. For most sales pros, whether meeting face-to-face or virtually, the basics of selling are the same; sellers must be personable, engaging, and establish a rapport with their prospects. The ways to do this, however, require changes in the remote environment to ensure sellers are making the most of their virtual encounters. Here are nine traits successful salespeople should cultivate to transition into best-in-class virtual sellers:
Whether meeting in a conference room, restaurant, or on the golf course, sellers often have little to no control over the environment. In virtual, however, sales pros can customize their virtual office and make it comfortable for both seller and buyer as well as conducive to the selling experience. Of course, one does not have to be an interior designer, but attention to detail, such as background or décor, can be a conversation starter and create rapport. A virtual background, like a cityscape or company logo, serves to reinforce your organization’s reputation.
As everything virtual is turbocharged, sellers must keep an eye on the clock. Punctuality is important, both for courtesy and getting the most from your meeting. In virtual, time takes on additional significance because nobody has enough. Meetings are both faster and shorter. Sellers should open meetings early to casually engage prospects before the formal meeting starts. This is a great way to get to know them, build rapport, and even spot alliances between decision makers. Also, in virtual, it’s easy to no-show meetings, so it’s vital to send confirmation emails to ensure the set time works for all participants.
- Prepared and Confident
Because of the time constraints, sellers must be extra prepared and confident. In virtual, it’s a good idea to set an agenda in order to keep the process moving as quickly as possible without rushing. An agenda lets the buyer know the main points you want to cover as well as where you are in the process. It also allows you to move through your presentation confidently, hitting all the points you need to cover, as well as stick to a prearranged time in the heightened speed and shorter duration of virtual interaction.
- Engaging and Captivating
When selling virtually, full engagement requires extra effort. Give prospects your undivided attention and make eye contact by looking directly into the camera. Be sure to notice any withdrawn participants who may need to be prompted to engage. Ask questions that invite feedback, either verbally or through video conferencing tools—waves, claps, and thumbs up—as well as comments in the chat. Remember, in selling virtually, it can be harder to communicate via body language. The more sales reps can be captivating and promote interactivity, the better.
Best-in-class virtual sellers make an effort to be attentive. This means to show concern for the comfort and wishes of others. Little things can illustrate concern for their needs such as pausing to ask if they can hear you okay or if what you are saying makes sense. When taking notes, be sure to get back to eye contact when you can, and try to capture your client’s language, the words and phrases they use to illustrate you understand their needs and, in effect, speak their language.
- Active Listening
Over video, it can be difficult to pick up on the subtleties of what your client is saying and doing. Sellers need to up their active listening skills a notch higher than in face-to-face. Vocal tone can be an important indicator of what the client is thinking or feeling. Pay attention to hesitancy in speech or self-interruptions, which can indicate indecisiveness.
- Adaptability and Multitasking
In virtual, there can be a lot going on. Between going through slides, sharing your screen, noting on a whiteboard, to say nothing of your engagement and attentiveness, it’s easy to feel like a juggler. The best virtual sellers should be quick on their feet and adapt to any circumstances such as technical glitches. They should also be expert multitaskers who can seamlessly navigate the conferencing tools and effortlessly transition through their presentation. While this may seem like a lot, as with most sales skills, it soon becomes second nature.
- Proficient With Technology
While sales professionals do not have to be IT specialists to be successful virtual sellers, they must be competent in the common platforms and the types of problems that can come up. These can include feedback in the audio, issues with screen sharing, or buffering in the video feed, and it will be immensely helpful to have some quick fixes readily available for yourself or as recommendations for your client.
Perhaps no trait is more essential in virtual selling than flexibility. With so many organizations working remotely, salespeople must accommodate the disparate virtual needs of their various clients at a time when no two are alike. Also, as organizations become more invested in their virtual capabilities, sales professionals should prepare for their client’s needs to shift frequently and suddenly. This will require flexible sales pros who can adjust on the fly to provide the advice and solutions to suit their clients’ ever-changing needs.
While most sales professionals successfully transitioned into virtual, some were able to fully embrace the changes needed to take their skills to the next level. Of course, the heart of sales has always been engagement, rapport, and a sincere desire to help people. Best-in-class virtual sellers are those who saw opportunity in a time of crisis and recognized the need to adjust, adapt, or even just tweak the traits that were the driving force of their success to meet the needs of virtual selling in the evolving sales environment.