The pandemic has contributed a lot to sales transformation. For most companies, selling virtually has become the new norm. And although some have taken to virtual selling like a fish to water, more and more businesses are struggling to adjust.
Well, here’s some hard news for you. Stop waiting.
You shouldn’t even be thinking about going back to the old ways. Instead, you need to train your team and hone their skills to make their experience remarkable. This way, you can thrive in the new normal and be that much more flexible.
Research from the RAIN Group shows that companies are facing similar challenges. Bubbling at the top of the list is gaining buyers’ attention and keeping them engaged virtually. A lot of organizations are also having problems developing relationships with their buyers virtually.
So, how can we work on fixing a lot of these virtual selling challenges?
Simple: with the following list of tools, techniques, and processes.
You can find more of these tips in our article on creating a high-performing field sales team in a virtual world.
Set the Stage with Video
If you’ve made in-person sales calls, then you’re probably already comfortable being in a room with prospects. Unfortunately, you now have to take that experience and deliver it to video. There are a few rules that will help you out here.
The main one is to treat video sales meetings like in-person calls. Would you show up to a serious meeting in a t-shirt and baseball cap? Would you do it in a dark room? And would you want the prospect to only see part of your face? I’d think not.
Apply the same level of common sense to your video calls as well. Start by making sure the room is presentable. What about the background? Is it messy or distracting?
Always make sure it presents the image you and your organization want to present. Consider using a virtual background or the Microsoft blurry background. You could even go as far as making a custom background that complements your prospect’s business.
Similarly, make sure your lighting doesn’t look like something out of the witness protection program. You want the light in front of you as opposed to behind you. Each and every member of your team should be aware of all the requirements for virtual sales calls.
This includes the dress code, background, lighting, and tech checks prior to signing on with prospects. Set all these up in advance, run your reps through the paces and ensure the experience is what you’d expect if it was you on the other end of the call. Hubspot explains how to set up video for sales meetings.
Having great video and lighting is only half the battle. The other half rests entirely on sound. It doesn’t matter how good people can see you.
If they can’t hear what you’re saying, you might as well be on the other side of the world. Sound is a bit tricky because everyone’s system is a bit different. In a Zoom meeting, one person might hear you fine while all the rest can’t seem to get you clearly.
One pro tip here is to record yourself, and then play it back to check for issues. For sales managers, why not get your entire team on one call and go around checking the audio quality. How does everyone sound to everyone else?
Fortunately, audio is among the easiest variables to fix. Make sure you’ve got great quality sound before trying to do any virtual selling.
Ensure Fast Internet Speeds
According to Zoom’s website, different kinds of Zoom calls have different internet bandwidth requirements. For 1:1 video calling, you’ll need 600kbps for high video quality and 1.2 Mbps for 720 HD video. Sending and receiving 1080p HD videos requires 1.8Mbps.
Group videos are a bit more demanding with requirements of 800kbps for high quality video and 1.5Mbps for 720p HD. Sending and receiving 1080p HD videos requires 2.5Mbps to 3.0Mbps.
Ensure your sales reps and anyone else who might be on a call with prospects has these speeds at minimum. If you don’t have the budget for it, here’s an idea. Why not repurpose some of that travel budget which is now useless over to technology and get an internet speed upgrade for your entire sales team? Give them a stipend for internet and ensure they upgrade according to requirements.
You could even ask your reps to send you the configuration screen from the service provider as a condition for the stipend. Now, you can rest easy knowing that there will be mo issues from your team’s end. Of course, you can never be certain that connection issues won’t stem from the prospects end. But with faster internet speeds, you can at least ensure 50% of the problems are dealt with.
Make Sales Educational
If we’re going virtual, then your sales process will need to be highly educational for prospects. Naturally, this means arming your reps with as much educational material s you can get your hands on.
The more educational resources you provide all throughout your sales process, the more prospects will begin to know and trust you and your sales team. And since everything is now virtual, providing them with these materials just got a whole lot easier and faster.
Questions Remain Key
Hands down, the best way to make a prospect feel safe and valued is by asking them relevant questions. Think about it; do you just roll up on a person of interest at a party and start talking about yourself? Nope. You ask them genuine, sincere questions with the aim of getting to know them.
The same applies for selling virtually. You have to show genuine interest in knowing your customers as people. Try to understand their company, issues, challenges, and pains so you can solve them where possible.
Without this basic understanding, helping them becomes a guessing game. Ask smart, insightful and thoughtful questions that will likely create follow up questions to uncover as much as you can.
Sales psychology reminds us that people like it when you show interest in them. And when you make them think. Not only does this show you care, it also makes them feel safe with you.
However, any prospect worth their salt will also have questions for you. Make sure you have quick, solid answers ready plus additional content to sweeten the pot.
You could even take this opportunity to train your sales team by running a question workshop. Work with your team through each stage of the buyer journey and create a well thought out inventory of questions that most prospects tend to ask. Next, prepare answers so that each rep knows what to say as well as more educational content to guide prospects.
Align With Marketing
When you start virtual selling, you simply cannot underestimate the importance of aligning sales and marketing. We’ve already seen how content, tools, educational materials and emails can play a crucial role in virtual selling. For most organizations, marketing is a key player in manufacturing these tools. Typically, it’s marketing that creates educational content, videos, email, and a lot of the reporting and dashboards.
It’s up to sales to provide marketing feedback so that the marketing department can get real-world data and make adjustments that improve performance in the long run. In this virtual world of sales, you can’t afford to run two separate teams, each with its own agenda. You’ll need a single revenue team comprising of both marketing, and sales if you want to drive revenue.
Wrap TouchPoints Around Meetings
Now that your educational resources are overflowing and your questions are documented, it’s time to move to the next step. This involves mapping out each and every single touch point within the sales process that wraps around meetings. Touch points could include text messages, sales generated email, follow up email, video calls, and any other documentation you could be using with your prospect.
Simply put, you want to remain top of mind even after your meetings are long done. Kind of like continuing the conversation even when you’re not talking to the prospects. You could proactively move buyers along their journey if you do this right. Without the extra layer of designed comms, you could be leaving your prospects open to influence from competitors.
Differentiate your company from the competition by crafting wraparound touch points and making them remarkable during communication. The best part is that this exercise can be automated by technology to help shorten the sales cycle and boost closing rates.
The Sales Process Matters
If there’s one thing that exists in most companies yet remains fully undocumented, it’s the sales process. Well, did you know that if your sales process is not documented, shared, or trained, you might not even have one to begin with? In this new world of virtual selling, your sales process needs to be like a roadmap.
One that gets you from first contact with the prospect all the way to a closed, new customer. Without this map, your sales reps might find themselves getting lost again and again with plenty of mistakes that will cause a lot of business loss.
Your team is going to need to know what to tell prospects when you go virtual. They will need to know what to expect from each stage of the process. Every touch point should be well mapped and defined with crystal clear communications.
The more you think things through in advance, the shorter your sales cycle will be and the better your chances of exceeding sales quotas. Remember, being virtual is change that requires solid expectation setting and clear direction. All these seemingly new motions are crucial for your team to understand, practice, and become great at using new processes and tools.
Let’s talk about data, metrics, and tracking sales results and business outcomes from virtual selling. Obviously, there’s a set of metrics that you should already be tracking already. But we’ll go through them so you can set them up and create a dashboard so you can watch improvements over the weeks and months to come.
We’ll kick off with the more obvious ones that should be looked at organizationally and by rep. The following metrics need to be tracked in real-time and reviewed weekly at best or monthly at minimum.
- Close rates
- Average revenue per new client
- Actual sales vs Quotas
- Sales cycle in days
- Percentage of sales opportunities that close
The percentage of sales qualified leads that turn into opportunities might be more of a marketing metric. However, you want to know how reps are doing in terms of moving SQLs to sales opportunities.
You can even go the extra mile and look at the performance of emails that sales is pushing. You can also look at the stage by stage conversion rate for the sales process as well as the revenue post sale. But then again, that might have more to do with ongoing customer service than the performance of your reps.
Over the past few months, certain events have literally overhauled the way we conduct business. To avoid spreading COVID-19, companies have adapted to their employees working from home. But while some people have already settled in to the new normal, others are still struggling with how to proceed.
Either way, it’s safe to say that things will be staying remote for the foreseeable future. According to a recent survey by Virgin Media Business, 60% of office based employees will regularly work from home by 2022. Fortunately, we’re now more connected than ever before. Thanks to technological advancements, we can have a face to face in an instant.
However, this also comes with its own set of challenges. Sales managers still have to implement coaching sessions for their reps. They need to ensure their teams remain active, engaged, and efficient. All while utilizing the coach’s advice without them having to be physically present.
But is sales coaching all that important? Surely, your sales teams can manage well enough by relying on their past training, right? Let’s find out.
Remote Sales Coaching
As the name suggests, sales coaching is the process of developing the mindset, skills, and performance of salespeople. Add remote and the coaching is based at different locations either via phone, video, or other web based systems. Sales coaching is an ongoing venture that can never really be complete.
See, sales people tend to become quickly demotivated and unproductive without regular contact. This is why remote sales coaching is so important. It helps improve the performance their performance and keep the crew engaged even when they don’t have access to a team environment.
You can read up all about this and more in our blog post titled how to create a strong sales culture at home. Below are the top 5 best practices for effective remote sales coaching.
- Formalize your remote sales coaching plan
- Invest in virtual coaching technologies
- Keep meetings short and sweet
- Remain alert to non-verbal cues and body language
- Track individual deals and progress through CRM
1. Formalize your remote sales coaching plan
We all need some sense of direction. As such, setting up measurable goals, clear expectations and standards is a crucial step. It’s incredibly easy to get distracted while working from home.
In addition family responsibilities, there are distractions like Netflix, TV, and other things that slow your progress. Having procedures set in place helps maintain a focus on these goals. Similarly, always provide an agenda in advance. A meeting without an agenda is kind of like shopping without a grocery list.
Not only do you waste time and money, chances are you’ll miss something important. Before the actual meeting, communicate clearly that it’s going to be a sales coaching meeting on certain areas. Remove any and all distractions such as pets, TV, and children from the room. This will set the mood to 100% focus on the actual meeting.
2. Invest in and familiarize yourself with virtual coaching technologies
Remote coaching (and selling from home) has a plethora of challenges to overcome. However, one of those challenges should not be technology. Sales coaches should have an easy and successful run as long as your company has invested in proper coaching tech.
This includes mobile CRM access, cloud based storage, screen sharing capabilities, video conferencing among others. Not only do these tools provide sales managers with vital visibility, they also keep teams on the same page. However, there’s a huge difference between having the right tech, and actually knowing how to use it.
Working remotely is a huge adjustment for everyone involved. To ease the transition, try to train your teams and create opportunities for them to get familiar with the tech stack you’ll be using. If certain reps are having difficulties, point them towards learning resources or create your own training sessions.
Most people learn how to use certain tech on the job. So if you’re implementing a new technology, start using it soon to give your reps hands on experience. Don’t try to introduce new tech and then not use it for months. You’ll just take everyone back to square one. Here’s how you can increase adoption of IT solutions.
3. Keep meetings short and sweet
Today, it’s quite easy to get overwhelmed by video conferencing meetings. This is why you have to create a tight schedule and stick with it to maximize the effectiveness of your team meetings. Remember that while you might have the best tech, video calls can consume as much bandwidth as in person meetings for your sales reps.
As such, it’s more important than ever now to follow general best practices when holding virtual meetings. Make sure everyone has a copy of the agenda ahead of time. Steer the meeting so you can wind up on schedule.
Of course, you’ll want to give your team mates time and opportunities to socialize. However, make it clear that team meetings are strictly business and virtual selling to avoid time wastage.
4. Remain alert to non-verbal cues and body language during remote coaching sessions
As you interact with your colleagues every day, you pick up a lot of information about their mental states without even realizing it. Putting your subconscious to the same task when working remotely makes this deduction a bit more difficult. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
You can still gain plenty of intelligence based on how your team members are responding to pressures of the job. As you coach your team members during video meetings, pay close attention to their nonverbal cues. Identifying the nuances of body language interpretation and you’ll be able to pick up on small tells as you train your sales reps.
5. Track individual deals and progress through CRM and pipeline management tools
Gauging the progress of deals can be very tough without being able to meet your team members face to face. Therefore, tracking these deals through CRM and other tools is more important than ever. Make sure you ask your reps specific questions about the deals you are tracking.
This helps them know that not only are you monitoring their progress just like in the office, but that you’re also available to help them formulate a strategy. However, this alone will not be enough. You need to be as consistent as possible for this and all the best practices above. After all, research shows that there’s an 88% increase in productivity whenever coaching was consistent.
Final Word on Remote Sales Coaching
These are indeed tough times for all of us. But with the above remote sales coaching techniques, you can make your team feel like a unified machine even as the cogs work from miles away. However, we can also look at virtual selling as the future of employment.
In tomorrow’s sales organizations, employees will no longer need to be physically present in the office to achieve success. Virtual connections can help organizations tap into talent pools they would never have accessed before.
However, all these require clear, direct communication, consistent meetings with actionable agenda items as well as the right sales technology stack. For starters, you’ll need a strong and reliable CRM system to monitor and manage different aspects of sales. You might want to look at the number one CRM in the world – Salesforce.
Next, you’ll need some way for your sales teams to access the CRM both at home and on the go. This is where Veloxy comes in. With Veloxy Mobile, your team members can instantly access sales intelligence for any of your accounts, find new contacts to engage with, discover new prospects near them and gather contact information in term of phone numbers and emails.
Veloxy also logs all activities performed by your sales teams making tracking and monitoring that much easier. Get Veloxy today and say hello to the future of remote working.
Virtual selling is not going away anytime soon. Even when things get back to normal, a lot of organizations will realize that it is inefficient and much less productive to travel to where the prospect is as opposed to working on a virtual sales process. The more successful you are with virtual selling, the less you’re likely to keep thinking about how things were before.
Keep your sales team ahead of the curve with some helpful, valuable plugins. With Veloxy Engage and Veloxy Mobile, you can collect the relevant information and analytics so you can forecast what your prospects need beforehand. Veloxy will also help you connect to prospects virtually and follow up effectively after meetings.