One surprise from the pandemic is how well sales professionals adapted to virtual selling. According to research in Hubspot, 64 percent of sales teams that transitioned quickly and invested in remote met or exceeded their target revenue. Also, 68 percent of sales leaders plan to keep or implement a hybrid or fully remote sales model. Of course, sellers first had to learn the skills and best practices unique to the medium, such as adjusting the sales approach, setting an agenda, and using virtual engagement tools. In relation to our recent white paper How to Build A Top-Performing Virtual Sales Team, one challenge was creating a virtual sales stage to maximize a rep’s technology, environment, and appearance. As virtual is here to stay, here are tips to set a virtual stage that boosts sales:
The first thing to know about virtual selling is it requires technology. Common web conferencing programs include Zoom, Teams, Webex, and more. Sellers should familiarize themselves with multiple platforms to meet client preferences. Also, they should practice utilizing the tools, such as chat, polling, whiteboarding, breakout rooms, and shared screen. These are effective ways to increase engagement and interaction during multiparty presentations.
Switching to video took time. As reps could no longer confidently strut into conference rooms like movie stars, many transitioned to virtual film directors, framing the perfect camera angle. If the camera is too low, clients might see up your nose. Too high, you’ll appear far away. Generally, your head should be centered as the most prominent feature in the top third of your screen. For this, consider risers or adjust the height of your seat. With a laptop, find the best screen angle.
Sound also could be tricky. Whether you’re working remotely or in the office, clear sound on both ends is critical. You want to be able to pick up what your client is saying and make it easy for them to hear you. Noise-canceling headsets can be a savior. These can effectively block the distractions of excited children, pets, or other outside noises, allowing you to focus on your client and them on you.
One of the first things you need is the right background. Either at home or in the office, whatever is behind you may not be suitable. Virtual backgrounds, such as your company logo or staged office setting, can be a great choice. Be sure to keep in mind your personal brand and ensure your background matches the image you’d like to communicate. Also, it’s a good idea to confirm with your organization if there is a policy.
Working from home, many sellers found their décor was a great way to break the ice, engage with clients, and get a head start building rapport. Wall art, books, or framed photos are welcome breaks from boring, sterile office walls and cubicles and make it easy to informally chat before getting down to business.
No matter how comfortable a home office, learn about lighting. Big, bold LED bulbs and light sources that come from the front, such as facing a window, present the best light. Also, depending on time of day and exposure, sellers should adjust their shades to avoid backlight, glare, shadows, etc.
Of course, sellers have a reputation for dressing well. No other profession so knows the value of a nice suit and pair of shoes to create positive first impressions. While striped or patterned shirts and blazers, like houndstooth, herringbone, and gingham, can be striking in real life, they can be psychedelic in virtual. Instead, solids and pale colors work best for video. Radiant or shiny colors can change. A rich red can appear orange and a bright white can glow.
In addition, reading body language, an essential skill for any sales pro, needs adjusting for virtual. Eye contact, a must for building trust, is not as simple as looking at your counterpart on screen. Depending on the type and placement of your camera, either built-in or external, you will appear as if you’re looking down. Sales pros must shift between their camera for eye contact and their monitor to gauge the body language of their prospects and clients.
In the same way, sellers must be extra conscious of their own body language. Raising your eyebrows, smiling, and nodding can show you’re listening and engaged. Leaning in, tilting your head, and making eye contact can establish closeness and express empathy.
While the word “virtual” can sound hammy or intimidating, virtual selling proved surprisingly easy. Sure, it was different. Many of the things we take for granted in person, from selecting our clothes to reading body language, require effort in virtual. However, once sellers get accustomed, they often establish rapport faster. Much of this comes from the virtual stages they use to welcome prospects and clients into their homes. This blurs the lines between the personal and professional and makes the detached stereotype of virtual feel oddly intimate. As the need for virtual expands and morphs into hybrids, top sellers will continue to find new ways to connect and build the relationships that lead to lasting partnerships. For more information, download our white paper How to Build a Top-Performing Virtual Sales Team.