Face-to-face selling has always been a business foundation, but COVID-19 is forcing us to do many things differently. This means more phone work, more social media posts, more web meetings and less face-to-face contact. While most believe that one day we will again conduct meetings around the same table in the same room, today and for the foreseeable future, we will be selling virtually.
I believe the line between “virtual” and “in real life” starts bold, yet over time, fades to gray and finally disappears. Virtual reality becomes reality, virtual meetings become meetings, and one day, virtual sales will just be sales. So it’s a good idea to start incorporating selling through a camera as a component of your overall sales approach. Just as much as posting on LinkedIn, emailing approach letters and cold calling, virtual selling is now part and parcel of the contemporary selling realm, and it has some benefits. Here are three:
More prospects per day. This is simple math. Taking out the commute and accounting for a more productive presentation without the usual extensive courtesies, each meeting can take 45 minutes. So, in theory, one could meet three prospects in the morning and another three in the afternoon, with plenty of time in between and after to follow up or generate proposals. I’ve worked with companies who could get a clear, concise demonstration of their product down to 17 minutes, leaving 28 minutes for questions and closing.
Easier for all influencers to get on the call. This may sound counterintuitive, but a remote session may end up being more productive than face to face. All stakeholders are more likely to attend, and the ability to easily exit a session may be appealing to executives with tight timelines. The trick here is to invite all the players and if the primary decision-maker is unavailable, postpone. Dialing or logging into an online session is easy and slipping into a conference room is just as simple.
Happy sales professionals sell more. Today, serving customer requirements and presenting ideas is a few mouse-clicks away. This can be accomplished in an environment that makes you comfortable. Not too long ago, the biggest hurdle to working from anywhere was the perception that workers outside the office were less productive. This belief, like many, was incorrect.
Indeed, recent studies show working from home can lead to a 13% increase in productivity. I believe the percentage is much higher. Also, telecommuters make $4,000 more per year, 86% of people prefer to work alone, 82% report lower stress, and employees who work from home at least once a month are 24% more likely to be happy at work.
So how do you sell remotely? Here are three tips:
Become extremely familiar with your platform, WebEx, Zoom, etc. The technical foundation of presenting online is very important and you’ll need to be your own support when hosting your sessions. You must know how to unmute and mute all your attendees and turn off attendee cameras. Most importantly, remember to hit “record” before you begin. You should also be able to troubleshoot any glitches that occur during your presentation. It would be great to have a co-host or support person available during your call, but this is not always possible.
Secure your Wi-Fi connection, camera, and mic setup before the demo. It will become second nature, but review the checklist for every session.
Super hint: I recommend initiating a session and joining as a user on another PC and a phone and running through your presentation. This will give you the same view as your attendees. Indeed, set record and run through your entire presentation. Then review looking for areas of improvement.
Do not be hesitant to ask for a virtual appointment. Today, everybody is familiar with online meetings. They may or may not like remote meetings but have come to accept them as a normal business practice. You should have no hesitation asking for an online meeting and assume this is the norm for everybody.
Have your session and invites ready to be sent as you confirm. If you are on a phone call, send the invites while on the call. Confirm the prospect has received and get them to confirm with you on the phone.
Present either from your executive conference room or demo floor or both. Your conference room is perfect, especially if you have a smart presentation screen. Work the location as best you can, utilizing the presentation wall or a split-screen in your web session.
The nuance of your background conveys any number of messages. Your company logo, technology, professionalism, trustworthiness are all represented on the screen.
Your demo floor is also a great place to show off. Presenting a PowerPoint and a machine demonstration all in one meeting is ideal. Don’t be afraid to move from room to room. With a bit of practice, you can move the camera to different rooms and conduct a dynamic presentation.
There is one caution: You are in sales, not video production. So as important as learning remote/virtual selling can be, do not go down that rabbit hole. Learn what you need; actually, pick up the minimum knowledge required. Be a professional salesperson.
This will take practice. This will take discipline. Your dealership should help you. Ultimately, you will be improving your skillset and enhancing your personal brand.
One more thing: That special touch
Travel and expense budgets can be shifted to ordering lunch, sending coffee and breakfast to accounts prior to the meeting. Create a real lunch-and-learn by having food delivered to your prospect. Beyond food, get creative with what you deliver – flowers, coffee – anything to set yourself apart.
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