The concept of virtual selling isn’t new, but this sales process took off in recent years as remote work expanded exponentially during 2020.
“It’s like COVID hit fast forward and we jumped five years into the future,” says Marcus Sheridan, author of Visual Sale: How to Use Video to Explode Sales, Drive Marketing, and Grow Your Business in a Virtual World.
Today, employees are scattered throughout the world, there are fewer in-person meetings and events, and salespeople have to master new technologies to succeed.
Closing deals via Zoom instead of in a conference room or on the golf course takes some adjustment, but sales can still build relationships with customers and crush quotas even when working remotely. That’s the power of virtual selling.
Here’s what we’ll explore in this post:
Virtual Selling Statistics
There’s no shortage of data on virtual selling, so let’s take a look at some of the statistics around making sales remotely.
- 60% of sales reps increased their time meeting with customers and prospects virtually since 2015.
- 65% of buyers in North America work remotely more than half the time, so the best way to reach them is virtually.
- 70% of buyers and 91% of salespeople would prefer to work remotely more than half the time.
- 63% of sales leaders believe virtual sales meetings are equally effective or more effective than traditional, face-to-face meetings.
- 81% of sales professionals rely on video conferencing over face-to-face meetings.
- 80% of B2B customers say they prefer virtual selling.
Clearly, virtual selling is here to stay, but there are challenges to closing sales in a digital environment, as evidenced by the statistics below.
- You need roughly 3x the number of slides to communicate the same amount of information in a virtual conversation.
- Buyers remember only about 10% of what a salesperson said 48 hours later.
- Only 26% of buyers believe sellers are skilled at leading a thorough needs discovery virtually.
- Just 34% of buyers report that sellers are skilled at showing them what’s possible or how to solve a problem.
- A mere 26% of buyers say sellers are competent listeners.
- Incredibly, just 16% of buyers say sellers are very effective at making the ROI case when selling virtually.
Yikes. Those stats are pretty discouraging, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful at virtual selling.
The key to overcoming these issues is understanding them, which we’ll explore in the next section, and then taking steps to overcome them, so keep on reading.
Virtual Selling Challenges
Despite the rise of virtual selling and the sheer number of tools at salespeople’s disposal today, there are some inherent challenges to selling in a digital world.
Let’s take a look at these virtual selling challenges:
Maintaining buyers’ attention. When you meet online instead of in person, you may have to contend with Zoom fatigue and compete for your target’s attention with other work on their screen or even their home life, such as kids and pets. This makes it tough to keep people engaged throughout a conversation, and sales reps will have to adapt their presentations and communication styles.
Establishing rapport. With fewer opportunities to meet in person or attend industry events, it can be difficult to build relationships with prospects. (This is where social selling comes in — more on that later.)
Demonstrating value. As noted in the previous section, a mere 16% of customers say that sellers are skilled at proving the ROI of their company’s product or service with virtual selling. This could be due to a variety of factors, including poor sales training or an inability to use digital communication tools effectively.
Communication barriers. Much of human communication is nonverbal, so another downside to virtual selling is that it can be challenging to read body language and glean information from prospects’ nonverbal reactions.
Technology issues. Virtual selling relies on a strong Internet connection for every participant, and even in today’s technologically advanced world, there are still frequent problems with connections.
Growing pains and adjustments. The virtual sales process may be especially unfamiliar, stressful, and uncomfortable for sales professionals who have been in the industry for decades.
However, these challenges also create valuable learning opportunities for sales teams, and as we’ll see in the next section, there are plenty of tips and strategies to help your sales team succeed at virtual selling.
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Virtual Selling Tips to Help You Succeed
Today, remote selling is the new normal, so it’s essential to have a strategy in place to help you effectively sell when you can’t be face to face.
Below are a few virtual selling tips that can help take your sales game to the next level.
1. Get the right sales tools.
We’ve covered the best remote tools that for teams, and there’s certainly some overlap when it comes to virtual selling tools. But there are also sales-specific platforms and technologies your team may benefit from.
Here are a few of the most popular virtual selling tools in addition to the more obvious ones like GoToMeeting, WebEx, Clearslide, Zoom, and Google Meet.
- Salesforce: The customer relationship management platform keeps everything organized and up to date.
- Owler: This solution makes it easy to discover new prospects, research them, track them, and personalize your sales communications.
- Vidyard: This video tool allows you to create easy sales videos to answer questions, demo your product, and more.
- Khoros: With this customer-engagement software, you can partake in social listening, community management, and more.
Not sure which virtual selling tools your team needs? Ask them.
Connect with your sales team, survey the tools that people like, analyze your strategies, and find the sales technologies that will help everyone succeed.
2. Be prepared.
Chatting with a prospect by phone or video call may feel more casual, but preparation is still incredibly important.
Before you even schedule a call, you need to research the customer and know the business, its values, its pain points, and the buyers themselves.
Armed with this information, you can customize your presentation to showcase exactly how your product or service solves the customer’s problems.
You’ll be able to knowledgeably answer any questions that come your way, provide supporting materials, and cite relevant customers stories to strengthen your case.
3. Share presentation materials before the call.
If you don’t already do this, now’s the time to start.
This not only allows your prospects to read a bit more in advance, but it also makes it easier for your audience to focus on your talking points.
Additionally, technical difficulties can happen at any time, so if a call drops or the video lags, at least your prospect already has your valuable materials in hand.
4. Explain the sales process.
You may not be the only one who’s still adjusting to virtual selling, so take the time to outline what buyers can expect in terms of calls, demos, and more.
This helps prospects feel more at ease and gives them an opportunity to ask questions about your process. Plus it’s an opportunity for you to establish trust and start building rapport.
A buyer who feels comfortable with you and your virtual selling process is also more likely to be comfortable making a purchase.
5. Engage in social selling.
Today, 97% of consumers go online to research products and services. Plus, more than 90% of B2B buyers and more than 80% of senior executives use social media to conduct research research before making purchasing decisions.
Stats like these are why its essential for your sales team to be active on social media.
It’s called social selling, and it goes hand in hand with virtual selling.
Social selling is all about leveraging your social networks to identify prospects, engage with them, build relationships with them, and provide value to them — not matter where they are in the sales funnel.
And it works. In fact, 64% of sales reps that invest in social media hit their quota compared with only 49% of reps who don’t engage in social selling.
Get started by optimizing your social profiles for business.
And take social selling to the next level by utilizing a platform like EveryoneSocial, which makes it easy for sales teams to:
- Share relevant content to important social media channels
- Organize sales collateral for quick access to share
- Create unique content for other employees to share
- Monitor keywords or competitors via social listening
- Collaborate and provide feedback on content
6. Increase your alignment with marketing.
When you’re virtually selling, you need to work even more closely with marketing.
Because your marketing team creates the majority of the resources and collateral that you need to aid your sales process, including blog content, whitepapers, e-books, emails customers stories, presentations, and videos.
Additionally, the marketing team has experience using social media, engaging with followers, and building a community, so they can provide guidance for your social selling efforts.
7. Monitor buyer interactions closely.
Not meeting in person can make sales calls feel more impersonal. And when you can’t look someone in the eye or read their body language, it makes connection and conversation challenging.
Still, there are a few things you can monitor that help you understand how buyers engage with your company.
- With video calls, watch people’s facial expressions, note the questions they ask, and discern if they’re genuinely interested in the conversation.
- Track email opens to buyers and click rates you get on the material you send them. This will help you prioritize customers and ensure that the content you provide them matches their needs.
- Monitor the opens and clicks on any documents or contracts you share as well. This provides insights into overall engagement with your company.
You can also use email tracking software, a CRM, chatbots, and other tools to alert you when a prospect is on your site or interacting with your content.
8. Don’t skimp on the basics.
Lastly, we must mention that you shouldn’t skimp on the basics when it comes to virtual selling.
This includes the following:
- Ensure you have fast internet since video streaming and other programs can take up a lot of bandwidth. Try to get the best speed possible without breaking the bank. And even check with your company about potential reimbursement.
- Purchase accessories that’ll improve the quality of your sound. Get a nice microphone or headset, and test how the audio sounds from your computer before calls. Popular USB-computer mics include: Blue Yeti and the RØDE Mini (also: the NTG is awesome and my personal choice).
- Work on the positioning of your computer or camera, and adjust the lighting as needed. The last thing you want on a sale call is your prospect looking at a mysterious and shadowy figure. Need a little help? Get your hands on an inexpensive ring light.
- Don’t forget branding! You don’t need to be cheesy with video backgrounds, but put a brand touch to your videos, presentations, and educational materials. You want to look like a tight-knit professional brand.
- Write things down and document your sales process! It’s a great way to remember your strategy and determine what’s working and not so you can make adjustments.
Final thoughts on virtual selling
Remember, things will go wrong and even when you are completely prepared, virtual selling is not going to be 100% perfect.
Accept that fact and always remain calm and respond in a professional manner. It can be easy for frustrations and reactions to show, but take it in stride.
Your buyers are also experiencing issues occasionally and more than likely, they will be understanding if you handle any challenges with poise.