As sales professionals transitioned into selling virtually, they needed to revise and reinvent their processes. At the same time, organizations and leaders had to refine their coaching techniques to keep reps successful in the new medium. As illustrated in our new white paper How to Build a Top-Performing Virtual Sales Team, prior to the pandemic, 70 percent of survey respondents said their virtual selling was limited to 0 to 20 percent of the time. Now, 57 percent say their virtual selling is up to 80 percent. This emphasizes the importance of coaching in a virtual environment. In addition to ensuring your CRM and other applications can be accessed remotely and leveraging data in one-on-one coaching sessions, here are several effective ways sales leaders can enable reps to sell virtually:
Make Your Meetings Virtual
Technology should not only be used in the sales process. It should be part of your coaching initiatives. The more your reps engage virtually, the sooner it will become as ingrained as face to face. For most reps, even those who utilized virtual before the pandemic, the idea of selling virtually may still be new. While they may have achieved a level of comfort and even mastery, most have not reached the point where virtual is intuitive. At least once a week, managers should engage their reps virtually, observe their level of comfort, and offer tips for engaging and interacting with clients.
In addition, managers should create realistic role-play scenarios for their teams. These can be activities practiced alone or part of a small team with a sales coach. Here, reps can take on different buyer personas and adjust for some of the most common or unexpected interactions that can arise in virtual, allowing them to practice modulating speech, maintaining eye contact, and expressing empathy.
More Listening to Sales Calls
While listening to both recorded and live sales calls has always been an essential part of coaching, it takes on a greater importance in virtual. As so much communication in sales is now over the phone or video chat, it’s vital sales managers discuss ways reps can build engagement using their voices as well as their bodies to maximize video conferencing. Here, managers can note specific instances on calls where reps could have said or done something differently to achieve a desired result, such as keeping eye contact, nodding in agreement, or leaning closer to the screen.
More Teaching, Less Critiquing
While critiques and feedback are always essential elements of coaching, with so many teams working remotely, managers need to consider their delivery in this environment. Away from the office, reps can feel isolated, out of the loop, or less supported. As such, managers should be extra clear and specific in their feedback. They should provide solutions to overcome challenges while maintaining an environment where reps feel confident that the feedback is valuable. Of course, this includes results-oriented coaching that incorporates data and proof points to ensure the coaching is well received.
Ensure Alignment With Marketing
Collateral and thought leadership content should be utilized as part of the sales process as well as when nurturing leads/accounts. Sellers should be familiar with the content and how to best utilize the various types of collateral at their disposal, from blogs to case studies to white papers, and leverage these at strategic times during the sales process to pique interest, exhibit the seller’s capabilities, and distinguish them from the competition.
Allow sales a voice in the creation and improvement of the marketing materials used as part of their virtual selling activities. After all, your sales team is on the front lines dealing with customers. They are the ones equipped to know what type of collateral will work best with their clients.
In addition, there are multiple ways the sales and marketing teams can align their efforts in nurturing clients throughout the sales process, both before and after a sale takes place. Examples include email nurturing campaigns that consider the buyer’s journey, the targeted use of social media to network and interact with prospects and clients, and the sharing of data to provide lead and client intelligence based on website visits, email opens, and similar actions that can be tracked.
As sales organizations emerge from the pandemic, it seems clear that virtual selling is here to stay. Sure, most will transition into hybrid selling processes to get the most from their engagements, whether local or international, but it will remain incumbent on these organizations to provide their sales reps with the tools needed to stay successful. After all, sales is the offense that drives your team. It is critical they be given the chance to meet and exceed your margins. A big part of this is your entire organization enabling your reps to be their best in the virtual environment. For more information, download our white paper How to Build a Top-Performing Virtual Sales Team.