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The Beginner’s Guide to Virtual Selling

Learn virtual selling best practices, the skills you must develop, and the best tools available to crush it in the new virtual sales environment.

There’s a lot of buzz in the air recently about the new reality of virtual selling. It’s one of those terms that a lot of people use, but few actually understand virtual sales and fewer still do it effectively.

This article aims to inform you about this recent sales process because whether we like it or not, we’re going to have to adjust to the reality of virtual selling. Many seem to think that the COVID-19 pandemic brought it on, but it was really only a trigger event.

Ubiquitous virtual selling was just a matter of time, an inevitable consequence of technological developments and the mindset of the modern buyer. So, what we see here is less a single change and more like a sea change across the entire scene.

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What is Virtual Selling?

Put very simply: virtual selling is any aspect of the sales process in which the traditional in-person part has been replaced by online technologies. So, where once there were traveling salespersons, we now have innovations that remove any need for travel at all.

It goes by various names, with ‘remote selling’ being another, but the crux of virtual sales is simply down to the tools designed for the modern internet world. Tools designed initially with social or family meetings in mind have now been turned to use in business.

Once the utility of these tools started becoming clearer to businesses, the types of software began to adapt to the virtual sales world as well. Now we’re in a position where remote selling tools are being created specifically for the business environment.

From Google Meet, to Skype and Zoom, for synchronous video conferencing, to asynchronous video tools like Hippo Video, OneMob and Loom, video for sales is an integral part of virtual selling.

Sales leaders don’t need to be reminded that innovations ought to be taken hold of with both hands, and indeed this is happening across the world of business and commerce already. Virtual sales and virtual selling are here to stay.

According to LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report 2021, 65% of buyers in North America are working remotely more than half of the time, so the best way to reach them is virtually. In fact, the report says, 70% of buyers say they would like to work remotely half or more of the time in the future.

This preference is shared by salespeople. When asked how they would like to work in the future, 91% of salespeople made it clear that they do not want to go back into the office full time.

This matches our own research at Vengreso. We asked sellers where would they like to work after COVID and 56% said remote full time.

 

Virtual Selling Best Practices

Just as there are best practices in the more traditional sales environment, there are best practices in the virtual sales model, as well. Every new thing that comes along and changes how things operate requires a little adaptation and adjustment at first.

As a sales leader, you’ll always be on the lookout for best practices that you can instill in your virtual sales team to create the best possible outcomes. That means creating more sales conversations to grow the sales pipeline.

As we will see, the skills your team needs to be successful in a virtual selling environment are different from the ones they used in the field. And that’s why you must consider virtual sales training on digital selling skills as part of your team’s development plan.

For now, let’s look at some best practices for virtual selling.

Face to face is still the way

As study after study will confirm, we humans communicate in a variety of ways. Speech is obviously central to our communications, but body language and facial expressions are much more crucial than we think in a video call.

Even in situations where the client declines to turn their cameras on, the virtual salesperson should always opt to appear on screen. It allows the client to see all the non-verbals inherent in the way we present ourselves and crucial to social selling.

It’s a little bit like the way actors transition from the stage to the screen so that the salesperson must decide how to set up the camera. Either you go in for a whole-body sale or more narrowly focus on the face.

Not every salesperson feels comfortable in front of a camera. That’s why in our Video Sales Mastery course (part of the Modern Sales Mastery program) we teach how to be irresistible on camera and other practical techniques to use video for sales effectively.

Structured, brief presentations

The modern buyer will expect remote presentations to be more succinct and to the point. You will not be hanging around for coffee afterward, or speaking to anyone on your way out, so let the presentation be concise and compact.

Getting the structure just right will be a matter of choice regarding your product, the sector, and many other considerations. Whatever it is, though, a virtual event that’s short and to the point will always trump a meandering soliloquy that has no structure.

Remember, with virtual sales meetings, you have only that single window and no chances to charm the client before or after the presentation. It’s a one-and-done scenario, half an hour on the clock to fully get your message across and make the sale.

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Break the ice

With so many virtual meetings during the past year, people are starting to experience “Zoom fatigue.” Having to jump from one meeting to another, buyers are not always 100% present and in the best mood for a sales conversation.

Here’s a tip for you: Zoom filters can be the key to break the ice in your sales conversation. You can open up your virtual sales meetings with your prospects and customers with something fun. Check out the video below to learn how to break the ice, especially when you are trying to build rapport with a prospect.

Understanding specific tools

If you’re setting up to make the most of virtual selling, it makes a lot of sense to invest in the best equipment. Going down the cheap route can end up being very expensive indeed, with clients missing information, calls cutting out, and so on.

This is true in both the hardware and software senses. Invest in quality computers, cameras, and microphones to ensure smoothness of delivery on the hardware side. Similarly, ensure that you have all the requisite software packages too.

There is a raft of software tools to facilitate online sales, each tailored to specific needs. It is very well worth your time and effort to brush up on what’s available. For example, you might want to utilize more than one camera or insert graphics directly on screen, and more.

These are all options that are open to the remote sales team. If your sales department is large enough to warrant it, you may even go down the route of making a presentation space, a little like a movie set in which various kinds of pitches can take place.

Investing in virtual selling infrastructure such as separate areas or rooms containing all the requisite camera and audio equipment can really give you the head start you need in the industry moving forward. A little effort can really make the difference.

You can equip your remote sales team in other ways, such as infrastructure. With procedural sales training and a codified approach to the enterprise, a sales manager can keep on top of the process, from sales emails to cold calling.

How to Sell Virtually

As noted above, moving to the online selling world is comparable to how actors move from stage to screen. It requires a slightly different approach. You’re no longer appearing on one side of a room but taking up the whole of a screen. This matters a lot.

A sales leader should know that confidence and an honest demeanor are still clearly fundamental to any sale, but the technical aspects of how to appear on a screen are different. Also, the way you interact with the screen itself is new.

Practicing speaking to a camera is a central concern, and if you’ve prepared visual data graphics, you should know how and where they appear on the client’s screen. Setting up the screen space that the client will see is the main concern.

Cameras can also shorten or lengthen certain images, so product demonstrations need to be carefully set up. Giving the space a natural feel is essential here, so ensuring you know how to use this equipment is important.

The ‘less is more’ approach can remain true with this sort of selling, and it doesn’t make sense to blast your clients with graphic effects if it lends nothing to the pitch. Use the tech only insofar as it’s genuinely helpful.

Which Virtual Selling Skills Should You Have?

Many of the skills which make for effective in-person salespeople carry through very well in the digital space too. The primary personality traits, for example, will be essentially the same ones. Sales leaders have long cherished these traits.

The main difference is around the format, so it can be developed easily enough in most cases. Practicing and training with the new format can easily iron out any issues arising so that your team becomes familiar with the virtual sales process.

Virtual selling skills, like any other, require a framework in which to function, and they require practice to perfect. Because everything happens online, sellers must master these four skills:

  • Establish their professional brand through an optimized LinkedIn profile.
  • Develop a valuable online network (B2B engagement usually happens on LinkedIn).
  • Conduct effective prospecting based on personas.
  • Engage through liking, commenting, sharing, and serving as an expert resource.

However, these skills do not come naturally to every seller. They must be learned and that’s where virtual selling skills training comes in.

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Virtual Selling Tips

Brevity is key in the virtual selling world because expectations are a little different. The meet and greet aspects of any meeting are far fewer, and the modern buyer expects a short turnaround time for the presentations and virtual meetings.

Very often, sales professionals will schedule several such pitches in a single morning, so the emphasis should be on concise, punchy demos that get to the point. Familiarize yourself with the tools at your disposal thoroughly, too.

Having on-screen demos are a great option, and these can be managed in a number of ways. Tools that allow you to switch between screens are fantastic because you can change to spreadsheets or data points while still speaking in the background.

This enables your team to effectively get through a great amount of information while vocally guiding clients through the most pertinent details. It’s a very useful way to get a lot done in a short and efficient block of time.

Proven tips and techniques for winning the virtual selling game will vary according to the type of business you’re in and will also vary somewhat from salesperson to salesperson. The trick is to find an effective way that works for you and your team.

Virtual Selling Tools

Home offices everywhere are now mini recording studios with all sorts of tech and gadgets.

You can now find multiple camera options, quality sound recording equipment, green-screen capability, and more. Additionally, the software options are vast. They include options for backdrops, for producing data on screen, and much more for any virtual event.

Check out this video with Viveka von Rosen to learn about the best tools for virtual sales teams.

Keeping abreast of changes will be essential for sales leaders moving ahead. Producing quality presentations that convey large amounts of information in easily consumed graphics with concise methods is exactly where the sales industry is heading.

Plus, don’t forget to check how a text expander can help your entire sales team and save them a lot of time!

Challenges of Virtual Selling

While virtual selling has many clear advantages such as cost reduction and time-saving, there are also some challenges here. Chief among these is finding ways to stand out from your competitors, to make that virtual sale happen.

When a buyer schedules ten half-hour presentations in a given morning, there will tend to be a feeling of uniformity between them. This may make things seem a little pre-packaged, meaning that it’s tougher as a sales rep to express your company’s value proposition.

It’s absolutely essential for sales professionals to use whatever tools they can, and also to plan their pitches so that they convey exactly what you want them to, without a hint of extraneous material anywhere to confuse the issue. Direct, brief, but complete is the key.

If you want your sellers to be successful at virtual selling, you must coach them often. But coaching a remote sales team is not easy. That’s why Mario Martinez Jr. shares some of his best sales coaching tips in this short video:

Virtual Sales Presentation Tips

Using the graphics capabilities on the market is a real winner, and with a little practice here and there, along with some adventurousness in trying new things, you can soon confidently work with your preferred sales enablement platform.

Sales enablement technology has got to a level where you can produce almost any kind of graphics you can imagine to go along with your pitch. The trick is not to be drawn into the temptation to overdo this and produce an overwhelming effect on the buyers.

Getting used to operating in this space will give any remote sales team the basic confidence required to be effective. Once the smaller adaptations have become second nature, many of the traditional skills will follow suit to adapt as well.

Listen to this episode of The Modern Selling Podcast with Andy Springer, 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, to learn three digital selling tips for powerful presentations.

 

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Virtual Sales Training

In sales, training is an essential part of the bargain. Nowadays, we live in a world where sales training is often an ongoing aspect of work, so instilling a positive training environment is a must for sales leaders.

Most sales organizations are used to one or two-day events, but science shows those traditional methods are ineffective, and salespeople forget most of the information within days. And besides, with remote sales teams, it’s not even practical anymore to fly everyone in for a live event.

The alternative, a virtual sales training program, is actually better when implemented correctly. If you are serious about leveling up the skills of your remote sales team, you must listen to my conversation with my Mario on this episode of The Modern Selling Podcast.

When it comes to virtual sales training and teaching your team all the digital selling skills they need to succeed, you can either implement a program yourself or hire an experienced sales training company to level up the skills of your sellers.

You can certainly implement an in-house training program that meets your needs. Or, you can try our award winning training program (we’ve won three consecutive Stevie Awards for best Sales Training Program and for Innovation in Sales with our PVC sales methodology).

Contact us today to talk to an expert on how we can help your team become virtual selling rock stars. Or click the image below to learn more about our training programs for teams.

By Kurt Shaver

Kurt Shaver is a co-founder and Chief Sales Officer of Vengreso. Kurt is an expert at getting sales teams to adopt new sales tools and techniques. Through a successful career in technology sales, Kurt learned what it takes to reach B2B decision makers. As a VP of Sales for a global software company, Kurt was the executive sponsor of a Salesforce.com rollout. That’s how he learned what it takes to get salespeople to adopt new tools and techniques. That knowledge led to him launch his own Salesforce consulting business in 2008. When LinkedIn went public in 2011, Kurt recognized that LinkedIn would be the next great sales technology and that it would require expert training. He pivoted his business and now has over 10,000 hours of experience training corporate sales teams like CenturyLink, Ericsson, and TelePacific Communications. Kurt is the creator of the Social Selling Boot Camp and is a member of the National Speakers Association. He frequently speaks at corporate sales meetings and conferences like Dreamforce, Sales 2.0, and LinkedIn’s Sales Connect.

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3 replies on “The Beginner’s Guide to Virtual Selling”

I absolutely agree that one of the challenges is finding a way to stand out from our competitors. We need to prepare pretty well, not only our presentations, but our prospecting process so the potential customer will feel satisfied from the beginning to the end.

Great content! Definitely practicing speaking to a camera is really nice advice for those of us who are not used to the virtual selling environment, and also preparing really nice visual data graphics!

For this virtual selling world it’s really important to have an optimized LinkedIn profile, sales reps need to know how to leverage their profiles in order to do better prospecting. Thanks for this amazing article!

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