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Virtual Selling: The Challenges and the Solutions

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

If selling in person is a tough task, selling virtually or online is another level altogether.

Picture this, Salestors. You prepare well for the first meeting with a new buyer. You have gained in-depth knowledge of the buyer’s needs and business and have got many tricks up your sleeve to make the sale. The meeting begins, but the buyer doesn’t turn on his video. You end up selling to a voice, and without eye contact or visual body language, you feel inadequate at the end of the meeting.

As selling has donned a new robe in the post-pandemic era, the challenges associated with it have too.

The previous article talked about the what, why and how of virtual selling. In this piece, we talk about the challenges faced by Salestors in selling virtually and the solutions.

The Challenges and their Solutions

Engaging the Buyer

The Challenge: From getting the meeting to engaging the buyer, challenges fill our plates. 91% of sellers find it difficult to keep the buyers engaged online because it is so easy to get distracted when they are not sitting in person. Many people admit to checking emails, eating, or doing other tasks during a virtual meeting. So, Salestors, you need to cross the screen barrier with your speech to make a sale!

The Solution: Make it as interactive as possible. The idea is to keep the buyer hooked with something new frequently. For instance, if you have included a presentation in your pitch, keep it simple with fewer words written on it. And keep switching back to your face while speaking. Try to include some videos, clips, or the whiteboard feature offered by Google Meet and Zoom, where you can draw while speaking.

Convincing the Buyer

The Challenge: 89% of sellers face difficulties in gaining the buyers' trust and convincing them that we are listening to them and can solve their problems. Surprisingly, only 16% of buyers feel sellers can explain the return-on-investment point of view in an online meeting, which is the biggest question a buyer has. Salestors, something is wrong in the way we approach virtual selling.

The Solution: Before the meeting, it is crucial to learn about the buyer, their business and their needs. But we sellers already know that, don’t we?

There are three steps to convincing a buyer.

  1. Begin by letting them know how much you know and understand their product and need. Then, display your in-depth knowledge of the problem they are facing.

  2. Throw in some fact, statistics or industry practice that captures their attention and helps them relate.

  3. Show them how you come in and how your product can solve that problem for them. Entail the benefits and maybe, reviews and why should they buy it. It is the answer to the ‘Why’ that seals the deal.

Forging a Relationship

The Challenge: The screen poses many challenges in selling. On the other hand, only 26% of buyers feel the sellers listen to them and understand their needs.

The Solution: First, use the first few moments to check on the buyer personally. Empathy always goes a long way in forging a bond. Second, a buyer’s level of receptivity depends on the way we sellers ask questions and respond to the buyer. Be open if you cannot understand their requirement and assure them that you are looking for a wholesome solution for them. If you have doubts about their needs, ask them straightforward questions on serving them better. The biggest pro of this method is making a stronger long-term bond with the buyer that will help you close many deals. It is a foolproof foot-in-the-door technique for us Salestors.

Plus, if a buyer is not responsive enough, tugging at him incessantly will make him lose interest and close the door on you for good. Tom Stanfill of ASLAN Training suggests the Drop the Rope® technique wherein you release the pressure and drop the rope when the buyer doesn’t respond well. Aim at forging a relationship that lasts, not bombarding the buyer with your pitch.

Lack of Preparation

The Challenge: Good preparation is paramount to sales success. A seller’s level of preparation is evident from the first email sent out to the buyer. The first impression is ruined if the email is ridden with mistakes, grammatical or conceptual. Then, a lack of effective presentation skills or the ability to ask the right questions to engage the buyer can be the last nail in the coffin.

The Solution: As obvious it might be, first avoid grammatical mistakes in your emails! (And here’s how to do that) They are the simplest to control.

Later, when you get a response, ask the buyer which video conferencing tool they prefer and set up a meeting. Again, it is essential to make them comfortable in every way possible.

Then, don’t be derailed because the client has turned their camera off. You must not turn your video off; the buyer needs to see you to gain confidence. Then, make your pitch interactive, so the buyer doesn’t zone out and use the hacks discussed above to deliver a gate-smashing pitch.

Technological Challenges

The Challenge: It is not limited to wifi issues or a poor network. Another major setback to virtual selling is when the buyer or the seller won't know how to use the technology well.

The Solution: As stated above, fix the meeting on the platform the buyer is comfortable with and familiarise yourself. Ensure you use the medium well to keep the buyer engaged, whether through presenting or using a whiteboard facility to interact.

If your wifi is known to cause interruptions, or if you happen to log in to the meeting from a lousy network zone, let the buyer know in advance and keep a backup, like a mobile login option or portable wifi, ready.

And stay tuned for the next article in the Virtual Selling series!

Faced any other challenges? Share in the comments below!

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