COVID-19 has changed everything about the way we do business - and sales are no exception. If you’ve wondered what virtual sales means, this article will break down the differences between virtual selling and traditional sales and give you the tips, tools and techniques you need to take advantage of this new era we find ourselves in.
Defining virtual sales.
At the most basic level, virtual selling is managing or navigating the entire sales process using video communication tools, social selling, and ultimately speeding up a sales cycle through technology without meeting the client in person.
While virtual sales are possible in the B2C space, we will explore how virtual selling can transform B2B sales.
Traditional sales vs virtual selling
Traditionally, sales took place through in-person conversations. Leading up to that, there would be several touchpoints such as emails, phone calls to book the in-person meeting, and then every meeting after that was typically in-person.
Trends are showing that buyers prefer meeting through video communication rather than in person. Buyers like to do their research and only engage with sales representatives if they have any questions. And in the absence of clients being able, willing, or wanting to meet in person, sales teams and their managers have had to adapt to virtual technology for sales quickly. The best part of this adaptation is that video communication makes it easier and more efficient to meet. Studies show that buyers prefer to meet through video communication now, and 92% of B2B marketers say they use video for their core tasks.
In the era of digital transformation and virtual sales, buyers like to do a lot of their research on their own. They then only engage with sales for additional questions and understand how a product or service impacts their specific business. Once they do engage you, getting down to business as quickly as possible is preferred. Your first meeting should be limited to 20 minutes – here, we are not building rapport unless there is time, in the end, to do so. Once the meeting has reached the end, book the next appointment (which can be another 20 minutes).
Virtual tools for sales
Now that you understand the benefits of virtual sales, some tools are available to make your virtual selling even more successful.
The first digital tool you must invest in is LinkedIn. Not only does this provide a platform for customers to find you, but some of the available premium features such as Sales Navigator make it even easier for you to find leads and connect with potential customers.
The second digital tool you need to add to your virtual sales toolbox is CRM or customer relationship management. There are tons of available options in the market, so it doesn’t matter which one you choose. It simply needs to manage and keep on top of the conversations that you're having with your clients through email, phone calls, text messaging, video communication, direct messaging, and social selling.
These are the absolute basics needed to get started with virtual sales. Beyond that, your company and sales team can explore leveraging technology to create automation.
Getting started with virtual selling
Before committing to virtual sales, understanding what parts of your sales process are doing well (and those that aren’t) will help you run a virtual sales meeting more effectively. If your proposal stage of selling isn’t converting, you need to improve the process to a place where it can be effectively digitized and worked into your virtual sales process.
Of course, you also cannot overlook the soft skills that will make or break successful virtual sales now - and in the future. These include:
- Critical thinking and emotional intelligence
- Understanding where the future is going to be
- How are you training your team for what will be effective for them a year, two years, or three years in the future?
- What is our buyer’s demographic looking like? Are they younger? Older?
- Are the buyers demanding that we connect with them online?
- Do the buyers prefer meeting through video conferencing?
- Buyers prefer self-serve or remote purchasing options – are you setting your team up for success to follow that trend for what your buyers ultimately want?
These skills will be highly in demand due to the breadth of different types of communication channels. Successful salespeople understand that the way we communicate on email is different from text compared to direct messaging - and they can excel in all of these mediums.
Need help starting your virtual sales process?
At KO Sales U, we have been teaching virtual selling since 2017. Our unique process can complement and enhance any traditional sales process in B2B. We’ll help you remove geographic barriers to your business and open new competitive opportunities. Find out more and sign up for the KO Sales U Certification today.