Although the concept of virtual selling is not new, it’s safe to say that this sales process has grown significantly as remote work has become more normalized over the years.
Additionally, throw in the wild year of 2020 and Covid-19 – virtual selling has become a must-mastered technique for your sales department.
Since employees are scattered throughout the world, less and less are working in-person or attending live events, many salespeople are inundated with digital communications and struggle to sell virtually.
Besides being skilled at video calls, phone calls, emails, and yes even text messages – many sellers are running into additional challenges.
While virtual selling may seem less personal, you and your sales team can still crush their quota, sign new deals, and build strategic relationships that drive businesses forward, even when working remotely.
Below I’ll explore more about:
Virtual Selling Statistics
If you are like me, then you might be a data nerd. Personally, I like reading studies, statistics, and data as it relates to a process or strategy. It helps me understand the common challenges out there and how others might feel when surveyed.
But if these virtual selling statistics do not interest you currently, then feel free to skip to the next sections. Otherwise, let’s dive into some data!
More than half of salespeople think that it’s getting harder to get in front of prospects than it was five years ago. (99Firms)
According to the Rain Group:
- Only 26% of buyers believe sellers are skilled at leading a thorough needs discovery virtually.
- 34% of buyers report that sellers are skilled at showing them what’s possible or how to solve a problem.
- 26% of buyers say sellers are competent listeners.
- Incredibly, a mere 16% of buyers say sellers are very effective at making the ROI case when selling virtually.
And more than 80% of buyers:
- Experiencing technology problems: 89%
- Using poor or no visuals during online meetings: 86%
- Not responsive to my question or concerns: 84%
- Not prepared: 83%
- Lacking presentation skills: 80%
- Sending poorly-written emails: 80%
Other virtual selling statistics worth noting:
- 60% of sales reps have increased their time meeting with customers and prospects virtually since 2015. (Salesforce)
- According to Corporate Visions, You need roughly 3x the number of slides to communicate the same amount of information in a virtual conversation. Buyers will only remember about 10 percent of what you said 48 hours later. This doesn’t mean include 3x more overall information, just reiterate the important information again.
Challenges of Virtual Selling
If you’ve been in sales for a bit now, virtual selling is most likely something you are already quite familiar with.
You know the classic tools like GoToMeeting, WebEx, and now tools like Clearslide and Zoom that help you sell from anywhere you have an internet connection.
However, with remote work and the digital transformation – virtual selling only continues to grow and even after all these years, selling virtual or managing a remote sales team still has many challenges.
When there is less opportunity to meet in person as a team or with a prospect, attend events, or really build that working relationship – you can find the sales process uncomfortable and even more stressful.
Some of the glaring challenges with virtual selling include:
- Being able to keep buyer’s attention and keep them engaged throughout the conversation.
- Actually building a genuine working relationship and good rapport with prospects
- Being able to prove and demonstrate value of your company’s product or services
- It can be more difficult to get meetings scheduled and on the calendar as buyers get burnt out
- Harder to read body language and get information or personality insights from virtual selling
- Managing virtual sales team meetings can be quite awkward and others might be distracted
- Technology problems that bog down the flow and sales process
But as you know, these challenges create a learning opportunity for you and your sales team.
In the next section, I’ll provide some virtual selling tips that can help you and your team overcome these challenges. While sales results won’t happen overnight, you’ll quickly start to see improvements.
Virtual Selling Tips To Help You Succeed
Selling remotely is not going away and if anything, it will become even more common in the near future. Although some things may change once Covid-19 has passed, in-person selling and events will return again.
But, virtual selling will still be a dominant sales process that you will need to adapt and master if you want to continue closing deals.
So if you are struggling to sell remotely, don’t worry as you are not alone. The stats in the previous section earlier show that many salespeople are not only feeling the pressure but struggling a bit in a few areas.
Below are a few virtual selling tips that can help take your sales game to the next level.
1. Have the Right Sales Tools
Not long ago, I covered some of the best remote tools that your team should consider using. Yet, for virtual selling there is no shortage of platforms and useful technologies.
Your goal should be to have access to the right tools for you and your sales team. Every company is slightly different and has variations with their sales strategies, so which tools you choose may be different from the next person.
Connect with your sales team, survey the tools that people like, analyze your strategies, and find the sales technologies that will help everyone succeed.
There are plenty of review sites and countdown lists that will help you discover tools and what people think of them.
2. Social Selling Is Your Best Friend
Today, 97% of consumers go online to find and research products and services.
Since social media networks have become an amazing channel to connect with buyers and customers, a social selling strategy is a must. Almost every sales team should be doing some form of social selling, but when you are selling remotely it is an absolute must!
Since you can connect, share content, and engage at any time — social selling can have a huge impact on generating relationships, creating value, and getting company information to the right people.
For sales reps that do invest in social media, 64% of them hit their team quota – compared to only 49% of reps hitting their team quota that don’t use social media.
Utilize a social selling 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
3. Share Presentation Materials Before the Call
You might already be doing this or it might slip your mind, either way you need to remember to share any presentation materials before your calls.
This not only allows your prospects to read a bit more in advance, but they can stay focused on your talking points.
Additionally, tech issues arise where calls drop or video lags. If it happens, you’ve at least already shared the valuable material ahead of time.
And if you aren’t into presentations much during sales calls, it makes you look much more prepared.
4. Increase Your Alignment With Marketing
Because you are selling virtually, you’ll also need to be more aligned with marketing than ever before. You don’t have quick access all the time to them like you might have back in the office.
So why is alignment even more important in virtual selling?
Well, for most organizations your marketing team will be the ones to create a majority of resources and collateral that you need. Everything from educational blog content, guides or whitepapers, presentations, videos, and even helping with nurture emails.
Additionally, your marketing team will be experts when it comes to social media and branding as well, so they can provide guidance on your social selling efforts.
But you and your sales team should also provide marketing feedback on those items and ensure consistent communication on upcoming needs. Now both teams are working as one and each team will have what they need for success.
5. More Educational Material (Get to the Goods Faster)
Attention spans are already waning and potential buyers can quickly burnout with videos and sales demos.
During your virtual selling process, you also want to be mindful of your prospects’ time and not drag out things that can be shared or said much quicker.
Even before people want to talk to sales, prospects are researching and will read numerous pieces of content. For example, 47% of buyers view at least 3-5 pieces of content before they contact a sales representative.
And even after that, you’ll want to provide prospects with more educational resources during your sales process.
This lets prospects know you want to help them, provide value, and they start to trust you much faster when you are always providing value beyond a sales pitch.
6. Monitor Buyer Interactions Closely
Not being in person or face to face with people can make things feel a bit more impersonal. And no looking people in the eyes and getting a read on the conversation can be a bit more challenging.
However, there are a few things you can monitor that help you understand how your buyers are engaging with your company.
- With video calls, monitor their facial expressions, questions they ask, and if they appear genuinely intrigued by the conversation.
- Track your email opens to buyers and click rates you get on the material you send them. It can help you tell priority and if what you are sending is lining up with their needs.
- Monitor the opens and clicks on any documents or contracts you share too, which can give you insights to how engagement might be going.
You can use email tracking software, a CRM, or chatbots to get alerts and know when a buyer has interacted with your content or is on your site.
7. 10x Your Preparation
You don’t need me to tell you that preparation is important for anything you do in sales, but with virtual selling allow yourself up to 10x the usual preparation.
It can be easy to play off your prep work when you aren’t in-person and selling feels more casual via video, email, or phone.
But this is how ineffective sales conversations start. You’ll seem unorganized and your readiness to answer questions and share educational content will be lacking.
The last thing you want to do is waste your prospects’ time, fumbling around for the materials they may request, or not seem to value the conversation.
Spend more time preparing, ready with pertinent details, and even practicing a bit before you go live with a potential buyer.
Know your baseline script, the mechanics of your virtual selling technology of choice, but when in it prepare to improvise as needed!
8. Don’t Skimp On The Basics
Lastly, I want to include that you should never skimp on the basics when it comes to virtual selling.
By this I mean you should check off a few boxes, that sometimes you aren’t necessarily always thinking about.
- Ensure you have fast internet, 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 organization, who might reimburse your internet needs.
- Buy some equipment accessories to 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.
- 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, find what is working and what isn’t, and a great way to keep track of your own work.
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.