Salestors, remember the time when you could step out of the office or the house for a sales meeting? Sounds like a long-lost dream now.
It’s been two years that all sales meetings went officially online and donned the virtual cap. The era of and after the pandemic welcomed Virtual Selling with open arms. But there are many uncertainties for global businesses around the concept. I begin a series on Virtual Selling with this article, diving deeper into the idea. In this first article, I seek answers to the what, why, and how of virtual selling.
What is Virtual Selling?
Pitching or selling during an online conversation is called virtual selling. This practice includes sales meetings held entirely online and using video messages to pitch to new or existing clients.
But why did it take off so well? Let’s take a look.
Why do we need Virtual Selling?
The pandemic brought to the fore what was already gaining speed as the undercurrent. Businesses were crossing international boundaries before 2020, and selling virtually was an accepted process, just that the pandemic made it mandatory. But no one complained!
In fact, in 2021, 63% of sales leaders believed virtual sales communication is as good or even better than in-person meetings and more than 50% of Salestors who adopted virtual selling observed an increase in their close rates.
The internet brought the buyers and sellers closer, and virtual selling took off very well.
Today, there are more reasons why people prefer to sell virtually:
It narrows distances between global buyers and sellers. Sitting in Indore, you can sell directly to a buyer in Massachusetts and close the deal online too.
Buyers want it! 63% of buyers in Asia, and 74% in India, believe virtual selling has made buying more accessible.
Selling virtually is more convenient. The time and money spent travelling, planning the logistics, or scheduling is usually taken care of. It also enables bringing together multiple decision-makers from the buyer’s side irrespective of their location and schedule.
It facilitates Business Continuity. With quicker decision-making and execution and enhanced flexibility, Virtual Selling ensures the business keeps going.
The bigger question is: Is Virtual Selling here to stay?
The global verdict is yes! That’s why it is crucial for you to employ Virtual Selling most effectively. And to do that, you need a good Virtual Selling Strategy.
How to create an Effective Virtual Selling Strategy?
It needs to be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous communication.
Synchronous Communication uses tools that let the users connect in real-time. So all your online meetings and webinars that happen simultaneously offer a synchronized virtual selling platform. In fact, 73% of B2B buyers prefer connecting with sellers through synchronous tools as they find it as good or even better.
Synchronous Communication usually happens through:
Face-to-face meetings the traditional way
Online sessions via Zoom, Google Meet, Teams, Skype, or even WhatsApp et al.
Audio only phone calls
Asynchronous Communication uses tools that allow sellers and buyers to connect at different times. Here are some Asynchronous Virtual Selling tools:
Messenger chats like Slack, Skype or WhatsApp Business
Videos sent via emails or messages for pitching to the client
Comments on a Blogpost or a video post
Virtual Selling turns out to be a success if a robust buyer-seller relationship leads to closed deals. However, while digitally, sellers have wider access to a range of buyers now, it doesn’t hold ground if the relationship is weak.
Now let’s tackle the bigger ‘How’.
How do we sellers forge strong relationships virtually?
Companies need a ‘Buyers First’ policy to grow virtually. Yet, while we sellers try to do the best we can to make the buyers feel special, only 41% of buyers think they are put first by sellers. So what can we sellers do to ensure buyers feel valued?
Here’s a list of actions that count as a Buyer-First strategy.
Before the Sale
Have full knowledge: about the buyer’s business and how your product/service can help them. It is all about creating and specifying the need.
Be transparent: About the product reviews and pricing. Offer them product trials and training. If they meet you online, they probably have done a bit of research about your company and product. Don’t try and hide.
Be open: If your product doesn’t match their needs, suggest another (even if it hurts!) If you pitch a product that won’t do them as much justice, they will lose interest. So focus on solving their problem, or fulfilling their need, instead of pitching the product.
Align: Your goals with the buyer’s, so it is ultimately they who win and end up liking the service you offer.
Check the ambience: You need to keep your camera turned on all the time so the buyer can look at you instead of a random voice emitting from the screen. Videos add the personal touch that is needed to build rapport. Plus, if you turn on the camera, the buyer just might too! Here are some tricks to do the on-screen meeting right.
After the Sale
Stay in Touch: It should go without saying, but the buyers say otherwise. Only 30% of buyers feel sellers stay in touch after the sale. So don’t forget them once you close the deal and receive accolades for it. Stay in touch to know how they like the product or are running into any service. It could open more ways for further sale.
An effective Virtual Selling Strategy is crucial for selling success. So watch out for my next article in the series that takes a deeper dive into strategizing right.
What do you think of Virtual Selling? Share in comments below.