If you’re gearing up for your organization’s sales kick-off, one key element you must include in your schedule is virtual selling. In part 2 of our 4-part series on sales kick-offs, we talk about virtual selling, why it should be on your sales kick-off agenda, tips to revamp your sales process, and more. Read along.
If you haven’t read the first part of the series, you can find it here: Everything You Need to Know About Sales Kick-offs
Virtual Selling is the New Reality
Per recent McKinsey research on decision makers’ behavior globally, 70-80% of B2B decision makers preferred remote human interactions and digital self-service over traditional face-to-face selling. If you think the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic caused this, we beg to differ.
The world was already headed towards digital enhancements and AI-led processes. COVID-19 was merely the trigger that accelerated the digital transformation.
With many vendors in the market today, virtual selling, or remote selling, has boomed tremendously. Virtual selling isn’t just finding leads online and sending emails with tons of content and praying for a miracle. It is mindfully crafting every second of the buyer’s journey online. It is the process of interacting, educating, and converting a lead virtually using cutting edge tech-tools instead of meeting and interacting with a prospect in person.
As we mentioned, COVID-19 acted as a trigger that catapulted the growth of virtual selling. While it forced the whole world to work remotely, sales teams had to look for innovative and effective ways to keep their pipeline moving. From leveraging Zoom calls to using Digital Sales Rooms, organizations had to rethink how they sell.
Today, with businesses evolving to a hybrid model, it can be overwhelming to determine what is the correct route to take. Keep reading to learn how you can revamp your sales process.
Why Remote Selling Skills Deserve a Spot on Your Sales Kick-Off Agenda
The process of selling and buying is rapidly changing. While many claim to have “managed” virtual selling in the last two years, “managing” is not enough. By the time you realize this, your competition will have already excelled at wooing your prospects.
The world has gone from “The future is remote” to “Remote is the new normal.” It only makes sense to get your sales team on board and ensure they adapt successfully to the new normal. When planning your sales kick-off, be mindful to include sessions on the vital skills your sales team needs to thrive in the virtual selling world, including:
- Active listening
- Conversational skills
- Relationship building
- Presentation skills
- Trust building
- Technical skills
While these might sound like something sales folks are expected to have in a traditional, face-to-face sale setting as well, they matter more in a virtual environment. Holding the attention of your buyer is easy when you meet them offline. But ensuring they are engaged and interested in an online conversation is a skill sales folks should master. Building a robust framework that salespeople can follow is a step in the right direction.
Update Your Sales Process
First, assess your current strategy and see where you can make changes to incorporate an efficient virtual selling process. Remember, updating your processes takes time. While you would have taken a week to go from business as usual to working remotely in 2020, putting enough thought into crafting a virtual selling strategy that works for your team is essential.
Next, consider the buyer’s experience - what was the previous experience, what is it today, and what do you want it to be moving forward? Some points to consider:
- Number of decision-makers has increased: Per Gartner, an average of 6 and up to 10 decision makers are involved in B2B solution decisions (though this could flex up to 20).
- B2B buyers prefer self-navigation: When buyers could navigate the purchase process, they were more likely to make higher quality purchase decisions than those led by sales. (Source: Gartner)
- More buying interactions required: Per Forrester, the number of touchpoints during the buying journey has increased from 17 to 27!
Creating a smooth, hassle-free, and digital-first buying experience is key.
In our recent Virtual Selling Trends webinar, Alexa Grabell, Founder & CEO of Pocus, talks about how people in the digital selling world are all tech-burned out and how that affects their response to a sales conversation.
Finally, this brings us to the problem most sales folks claim to face in a virtual selling environment: Engaging buyers. While engaging prospects was more manageable in an in-person setting, engaging prospects in a virtual setting requires a new perspective and tools.
Previously, or in some cases currently, sales sent emails with attachments to prospects. Once they hit send, it’s a black box - has the recipient read the email, opened an attachment, or forwarded it to someone else? Moreover, the experience of searching through an inbox for a specific email is cumbersome.
New technology, like digital sales rooms, make this easier for buyers to 1) view, engage, and share your content and 2) for you to know what content your buyers engaged with, for how long, and if shared with others. You’re still sharing content, but it’s curated into a single record of truth - easily shared and accessed via a single link.
Per our customer TechSee, they highlighted how they created an engaging, digital-first buying experience:
“We wanted to differentiate ourselves from everyone else who’s sending traditional emails and attachments. This often becomes difficult for customers to effectively manage, especially over a longer sale'\s cycles] with higher complexity. Enable Us empowers us to create a simplified buying experience that demonstrates we care about our clients as individuals. The customers immediately see and feel how we view them as a special and unique client by the always-on, digital sales space built just for them. From their logo, to their success plan, to the specified content that drives their conversations forward to solve their needs...we have changed the buying experience. We have created a new dimension of customer-centricity that sets us apart from anyone selling in our space.”
Leveraging Tools for Virtual Selling
Everyone knows: Virtual selling happens online. But simply being online is not enough. To excel at virtual selling, one must know what to do and how to do it. There are tons of tools available today to make the process of selling and buying easier. Here are some types of tools that can help you sell smarter without compromising the buyer’s experience:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Customer Relationship Management tools help simplify and streamline your communications for marketing, sales, and customer success. They help gather customer interactions in one central place to improve customer experience and satisfaction. They can help you store customer data such as user behavior, how long a customer has been with your business, purchase records, and notes on sales interactions. These insights can be highly beneficial to serving the customers better.
Sales Content Management
Content is king. However, per a G2 Crowd blog post, 9 in 10 sellers don't use sales collateral for multiple reasons.
The most commonly found reason is that they do not know where to find the right content, and if they do happen to find it, they are not sure if it is the updated content. This is where effective sales content management tools come in. These tools help in the creation, organization, distribution, and management of customer-facing sales assets and internal sales training content. Creating a logical sales content management structure makes it easier to maintain, update, and retire pieces of content as markets, messaging, and products change.
While ‘Communication is key’ might sound like a cliche, it is all the more critical when it comes to virtual selling. We are not asking you to ping your client for each and everything constantly. Leveraging communication tools is vital to ensuring every stakeholder in the process is on the same page. Virtual communication tools offer the advantage of promoting openness and transparency, both internally and externally. Plus, your sellers can more quickly respond to your buyers with real-time email or Slack notifications.
It doesn’t end there. Stay tuned to our blog for the next part, where we will tell you how exactly you can bring together the various tools at your disposal to create meaningful experiences at your next sales kick-off.
Conclusion: Virtual Selling is here to Stay
Today, virtual selling skills are a must-have rather than a nice-to-have. While some of your sales team may be reluctant, embracing virtual selling processes and methodologies will help you stay ahead of your competition.
Do you have any other tips for acing virtual selling? Let us know in the comments below.