A successful face-to-face seller doesn’t always translate to a virtual selling superstar. In fact, virtual selling requires a particular set of skills that will keep your customer engaged and eager to continue to connect with you. Today’s buyer is tech-savvy, digitally connected, and socially engaged. Additionally, with most buyers and sellers working from home, keeping a customer engaged in a virtual sales call can be difficult.
My guest in this week’s episode of The Modern Selling Podcast is Andy Springer, he is the Chief Client Officer of RAIN Group and co-author of the Amazon Best Seller, Virtual Selling: How to Build Relationships, Differentiate and Win Sales Remotely.
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Andy is an “old school” salesperson with a keen interest in how the modern buyer digitally behaves. He and his RAIN Group colleagues, Mike Schultz and Dave Shaby like many of us prior to the pandemic hitting, were out in the trenches looking to provide virtual sales training.
Like most organizations, Andy and RAIN Group were not prepared for such a catastrophic event and in just a few weeks realized they needed to change their value proposition and sales process in order to continue to really help their clients.The experience shared in the @GoModernSelling of RAIN Group's changing their value proposition in order to help their clients adopt virtual selling helped me analyze the importance of virtual selling training. Thank you@M_3jr from… Click To Tweet
They realized their old way of doing things wasn’t enough and they began to gather all of the information they had from buyers and sellers about virtual and social selling. Their research and knowledge gathered, served as the foundation for the book that was never intended to sell a lot of copies, says Andy. Instead, RAIN Group executives, Andy, Dave, and Mike were looking to build a solution that a lot of people could leverage to successfully adopt virtual selling.
Andy joined me on this week’s edition of The Modern Selling Podcast and shared with me 3 Tips that Ensure Powerful Sales Presentations.
Virtual Selling Tips that Ensure Instant Customer Engagement
It’s no longer a matter of expecting the very best from your top sellers in this new digitally connected selling world. Success with a virtual sales team requires a new set of skills and remote selling tools. Customers will likely continue to have the same problems as they did working from an office, but how we identify these problems has drastically changed.3 Virtual Selling Tips that Enable Powerful Sales Presentations, with Andy Springer #158 Click To Tweet
According to research conducted by Andy and RAIN Group, the number one thing in this new virtual buying environment from a buyer (that was going to influence their purchase decision), was knowing the seller had made a thorough discovery of their wants, needs, and concerns.
A second study showed that only 26% of sellers were effectively performing needs discoveries in a virtual selling environment.
Younger sales professionals don’t have adequate sales hygiene. They ask prospects for a lot of the information that can be found online and/or on social media. But in addition to this, what else can we do to be successful in virtual selling?
Create the Right Buyer Engagement in your Virtual Sales Meeting
One of the many discoveries found in virtual selling is that it is hard to keep customers engaged during long sales meetings.
Back before the pandemic (seems like ages ago now), you could have a group of buyers and sellers in your conference room, networking and building relationships prior to the actual meeting.
The meeting would begin and you would share slides and resources that everyone could engage with in person. Today’s modern seller doesn’t have the luxury of face to face meetings and must make their virtual meetings more interactive.
Andy states that studies are finding that the max attention span in one particular topic for virtual selling is 20 minutes. The adult concentration span today is about 20 minutes. If your meetings are lasting an hour, maybe an hour and a half, find a way to make the meeting into a 20-minute highly engaging discussion and then do more of those.
The Ringelmann Effect in a Virtual Sales Environment
Secondly, Andy references the Ringelmann Effect when he highlights that there is no need to have so many people in a virtual meeting. As a quick reminder, this effect is the tendency for individual members of a group to become increasingly less productive as the size of their group increases.
Previously in a salesroom, you can have the buying and selling team together engaging but in virtual sales, Andy discovered that in the sales world, the more people in a meeting, the greater the chance for disengagement.The number one thing I will start applying in my #VirtualSelling strategy is to discover what my #buyer wants, needs, and concerns. Thank you @M_3jr from @GoVengreso and @andyjlive from @rainselling for your insights in this ep. of the… Click To Tweet
Similar to the old game of tug of war, instead of adding more people and each side being more productive, each newly added team member would make the group actually work less hard to pull. “The more people you add to virtual meetings, the higher the chance of people hiding.”
Organizations think that because they put a whiteboard or 30 slides on a virtual call will make people engage in the same way as they would in face to face. Instead of yielding success, that will only yield failure.
As sales leaders, “we’ve got to think differently with how you show up on this screen. Those who are realizing that and thinking of how to drive sales engagement and building relationships and those who are figuring out virtual ways to collaborate are starting to win really well.”
Helping your Customers feel Comfortable with Video Calls
During the early days of the pandemic, one of the biggest challenges by sellers was “how do I get my buyer to turn their video on?” A lot of buyers aren’t used to or ready or wanting to engage in this. They’ll go off on a tangent and say things like “my hair isn’t good, I’m wearing my PJs” truth be told, people think they’re even invading their space.
There has to be a really good reason as to why I need to turn my video on. It’s different, you’re dealing with people that have transitioned to working in a completely different environment and we’re expecting them to behave the same as they were in the office. It’s like newer generations being baffled by the notion of parents wanting to call vs. just texting. We can’t expect modern buyers to immediately buy-in.
Those sellers who are thinking about all of this, step by step, are thriving. But you need to be deliberate. Buyers need to get warmed up to turning on their videos, look for creative ways to engage with people.
I have a very interesting approach to this and it’s worked quite well for us here at Vengreso. I send a calendar invite to a prospective buyer or client and ask on that invite if they will have access to a camera. I don’t ask them to turn on the camera but I ask them if the camera option is available to them. This not only lets the buyer know that it can be a video call, but it also warms them up to the idea.
As sellers, we should always use video for sales, it sets an example and encourages others to get comfortable.
Tips for Working from Home Effectively as a Virtual Seller
According to Andy, a workstation isn’t sitting on the couch with your laptop on your knees. Not only is this extremely uncomfortable, but it can also do more harm than good to your body.
Instead, create a separate space and stick to it. It can be a part of a bedroom, somewhere quiet. You don’t need to break the bank in setting up an at-home office but do make sure it’s comfortable and quiet for you to feel at ease.
Remember, you will be presenting yourself on camera more often than not and you’ll present as professionally as you feel. You never want to turn up too casual as buyers will think you’re not taking them seriously or that they’re not important enough.Great insights on creating the right #buyer engagement in a #VirtualSales meeting and tips such as a limit of 20 minutes and the Ringelmann Effect. Great episode with @M_3jr from @GoVengreso and @andyjlive from @rainselling in the… Click To Tweet
Setting up the right office at home is pivotal for improving your on-screen performance and the way your customers perceive you. Regardless of whether or not you’ll be seeing them in person, a sloppy appearance and questionable surroundings will not have your buyers feel at ease. If you feel uncomfortable with your current set up at home, be sure to use a green screen background.
Andy and I have both interviewed a ton of people during the pandemic and sadly, they don’t dress the part. Many think that because visiting an officer is no longer necessary, that they don’t have to look their best, that results and results only will be the game-changer. Though this is partially true, as a sales leader interviewing for an SDR position, can you really trust a seller to look their best for your prospects if they didn’t look their best interviewing for the job?
The Present and Future of Virtual Selling
Sellers who weren’t hitting their quotas and upon entering a virtual selling position were nervous have no fear. It is now a level playing field and an opportunity for you and top sellers to learn new strategies. If you can find a way to identify customer needs, wants, and concerns, convert random social selling activities into digital selling, and leverage the correct use of video, you will come out on top in this changing virtual selling world.
Remember, we’re still scratching the surface of what this digitally evolved sales world will look like and it’s a great opportunity to start fresh or pick up where you left off as a top seller.
Outline of This Virtual Selling Podcast Episode
- [3:00] About Andy: Chief Client Officer of the RAIN Group. co-author of (amazon best seller) virtual selling: how to build relationships, differentiate and win sales remotely
- [7:55] Why was the book written?
- [13:00] What is the #1 thing buyers look for out of sellers in this virtual selling environment?
- [20:46] What should virtual sellers do to ensure their customers stay engaged in sales meetings?
- [23:30] The Ringelmann Effect.
- [24:30] What are the right number of people and the perfect amount of time for a sales meeting?
- [30:00] Helping customers feel comfortable with turning their video on.
- [42:30] Home offices and avoiding distractions.
Resources Mentioned in this Virtual Selling Podcast
- Follow Andy on Twitter: @andyjlive
- Virtual Selling: How to Build Relationships, Differentiate and Win Sales
- Andy’s favorite movie: Top Gun
- Modern Marketing Engine Podcast – Bernie Borges