Today's post is by Justin Zappulla, managing partner at Janek Performance Group.
The foundations of sales – engaging clients, understanding needs, providing solutions, and building relationships – are the same whether selling face-to-face or virtually. However, sales pros should be mindful of some key differences. Here are several traits sales pros can utilize to get the most from selling virtually.
Many sales pros have benefitted from creating comfortable virtual stages. Personal effects – our homes, books, pictures, and even pets – help us share with clients, as it invites them to share with us. By getting creative, such as experimenting with camera angles and setting an effective background, sales professionals can engage clients more personally than they did in stale conference rooms.
Be on Time
Punctuality is extra important in a virtual world. As remote meetings tend to include participants who join from their own computers, it’s good practice to start meetings a few minutes early. The casual interaction before a formal start builds rapport and often provides insight into relationships. Also, periodic reminders are essential to avoid the inevitable no-shows that are a byproduct of virtual.
Have a Plan
Because time is important, sales pros must be prepared. Set and share an agenda before the meeting. This not only helps the sales pro stick to a schedule; it also helps establish a comfortable pace. In addition, it orients clients and lets them know where they are in the process. As this improves engagement, it also helps sales pros proceed confidently and cover all their bases.
Virtual makes it easy to check out. To keep attention, make your virtual interactions engaging. A big part of this is maintaining eye contact. As often as you can, look directly into the camera. Scan participants and reach out to those who seem withdrawn by asking a question, or say their name and admit you’re just checking in.
In virtual, sales pros must be mindful and keep clients from getting distracted. Within the pace of your presentation, pause and check-in often. Make sure everyone can hear you and there are no technical issues. While polite, it also prompts participants to speak up or give a virtual wave or thumbs up, and engages attendees who have their video off. Also, note their words and phrases, so you can speak your client’s unique language.
Virtual environments can make it difficult to read body language. Often, we are limited to closeups of faces. As such, salespeople should fine-tune their active listening skills to catch the subtleties of their client’s speech. Do they start but not finish sentences? Do they self-correct or seem unsure? These clues help salespeople identify problems that need additional discovery.
Adapt and Do More
Whereas salespeople can often just show up for face-to-face meetings, virtual has more moving pieces. From screen sharing to whiteboarding to reading rooms and engaging, there’s a lot to do. In addition to multitasking, best-in-class virtual sellers must adapt quickly to issues or glitches that arise and successfully transition back to their presentation. Though it can seem like a lot, it just takes practice.
Know Your Tech
Though virtual selling does not require tech wizardry, a little tech goes a long way. As anyone who has been on a virtual call knows, there will be glitches, like a persistent hum in the audio or a sync issue in video. These little things can interrupt the pace of your meeting, and it’s helpful to have handy quick fixes to keep things moving.
Adjust and Flex
More than anything, virtual selling requires sales pros to adjust and be flexible. Whether it’s scheduling virtual meetings with four decision makers in three time zones, losing audio during an important question, or a persistently playful cat perched on your shoulder, best-in-class sales pros must bring it all together. As virtual takes on greater importance and organizations combine virtual with face-to-face engagements, flexible sales pros will best accommodate their clients’ changing needs.
While some sales professionals stressed over the shift into virtual selling, many didn’t realize the possibilities. As with all change, it will take time, but soon, most will realize that the virtual environment has opened new and exciting ways to connect with clients and sell. Happy virtual selling!
For more helpful advice on how to advance your selling and sales management skills, visit Janek's resource library.