In recent months most industries around the globe have experienced a rapid shift toward virtual selling conversion. This major change has happened due to the global pandemic.
Salespeople who were selling in person just a few months ago are now steeped in a different world, the virtual world. Salespeople find virtual selling less interactive and complain that it’s harder to build relationships when you are not meeting face-to-face. This shows in the Korn Ferry Buyer Preferences Study 2021 as well where only 33% of buyers agree that sales professionals are effective at selling in a virtual environment.
The reason for this dissatisfaction in buyers is definitely understood by sales professionals. They have been proudly doing their sales meetings physically. And converting deals after deals are left to the limitations of the virtual world to make the same thing happen. However this can & will change very rapidly, sales professionals are experts at learning new ways. It is just a matter of time before they will know the tricks of the trade for the virtual world as well.
A structured approach to this learning curve is to break down the sales conversation. And look at mastering each individual part. The starting of the virtual conversation plays the most important part here. This is where the foundation of your relationship with the buyer gets laid. Let’s look at these 3 ways to make sure this foundation is the strongest it can be.
The same Korn Ferry report also finds out that only 27% of buyers fully agree that salespeople are effective at communicating empathy during virtual presentations and only 36% fully agree that salespeople have been initiating engagement in an empathetic manner with them during Covid.
This needs to be addressed first as this can make the relationship foundation fall apart even before it is built. Most people are stressed and drained out with personal, professional & financial challenges. And there is a lot running on everyone’s mind on the uncertainty around these. Hence, one has to be very cognizant of the fact that people even if they may not say have a shorter attention span today.
We as sales professionals need to appreciate and be empathetic towards this. Make sure that our starting of the conversation with the buyer ensures that this is the best convenient time to talk to them. Asking questions about their own & their family’s health, talking about pandemic effects on their industry. And even letting them know some of the challenges you faced during the pandemic will help you connect with them more deeply. More importantly, be conscious of anything that you feel is more important for the buyer at this time. If so make sure you ask them if they want you to reschedule the meeting or have a shorter one.
Another small thing, that should be better called out is how much they are comfortable talking over a video call considering the situation at their home or even in case of their internet connectivity issues. Do ask them about their comfort with the video call or otherwise switch to another convenient mode.
Another important element in building the relationship foundation, especially in virtual conversation is to be more aware of your counterpart, their profiles, their interests, their belief systems, and their thought process.
Spending time finding out some of these aspects about your buyer will not only give you a great start to the conversation by making it completely personalized and breaking the ice with them faster but also make sure that you use these very effectively while presenting your product pitch.
Spending time knowing more about their company in a B2B sales conversation, the latest company results and news will help you understand their current challenges and future plans, so that you can structure your objective and focus of the product pitch around these aspects.
With ready access to information and social media, finding some of these is also just a click away. So, this is a must step which is added to your checklist while preparing for the conversation.
The third important aspect in starting a virtual selling conversation is to make sure that you facilitate the buyer in a discussion and listen attentively to every nuance when they speak. This further helps you be more empathetic & understand the buyer’s current challenges and help you align your product pitch accordingly.
Preparing a list of questions that can help you get some critical input from the buyers. It will be of great help to achieve this. If you already have their profiles & interests noted, use those to carve out sharp questions to make this more effective. You can further use some recent trends data related to their business. You can also have some other educative material to facilitate a more focused conversation.
Listen extremely carefully when they are responding. And pay attention to the words your buyer uses, and the way they say them. And the way the conversation flows & understand the need and expectations of the prospect for you to mold your further conversations accordingly.
Selling virtually isn’t going away. Even when the world gets back to normal, most companies will start to realize that traveling to ascertain prospects is inefficient. And far less productive than performing a virtual sales process. The more success you get selling this manner, the more it’s gonna benefit the company shortly. Starting the conversation well makes sure that you are 90% already there. S,o ensure that the relationship foundation is well laid. Good luck and all the best with all your future virtual selling conversation.