While virtual selling requires common B2B sales skills, there are specific tactics and strategic actions reps should consider as well. Conducting sales online continues to challenge even the most seasoned sellers, but thankfully, embracing best practices can make it easier.
RAIN Group’s COO Dave Shaby shares four vital keys that are specific to virtual sales success:
These “imperatives” cover four areas that their research has shown to be the most unique to selling virtually. As Shaby notes, these four are “the critical areas where sellers must take the lead if they want to develop stronger relationships, create comprehensive solutions, increase buyer satisfaction, and secure more business virtually."
These B2B sales skills are crucial to online sales
Like when selling face-to-face, a connection with a buyer is imperative. But effectively connecting through a screen can be more challenging than in-person. Sellers must be able to not only capture and maintain the buyer’s attention, but also connect in a way that develops rapport, respect and trust. This is why connection is one of RAIN Group’s four imperatives. To ensure you connect, Shaby suggests focusing on:
- Projecting professionalism. Don’t let a screen dull your image. Dress and conduct yourself professionally, just as you would if the call was in-person. Doing so will enhance trust and credibility.
- Driving conversations. Maintaining a continuous dialogue virtually can be challenging, so be ready to keep the conversation going during a lull. Have plenty of topics and questions ready.
- Nurturing rapport. Once again, online meetings can inhibit rapport. Shaby reports that 88% of sellers say developing rapport virtually is difficult. Here are some tips to make it easier.
By ensuring each of the three tactics are a focus during each virtual call, you’ll be more effective at developing a strong connection with the buyer despite not having a chance to meet in-person.
While engaging a buyer is always an important B2B sales skill to master, being able to do so during a virtual meeting is a major challenge. As Shaby points out, “The virtual world is full of distractions—many more than during a face-to-face meeting. Sellers have a much higher bar for capturing and keeping buyers' attention.” He encourages sellers to put extra emphasis on capturing the prospect’s attention immediately.
Lead with a striking visual or impactful piece of data, and continue using graphics and dialogue, like asking questions, to keep buyers engaged. Tim Riesterer, writing for Corporate Visions, completely agrees. “To effectively plant your…message among all of those distractions, you need to overcome your buyers’ stimulation threshold with visuals and interactive elements—including color, size, and animation—to draw their attention to the most important information in your slides,” he notes.
For suggestions on making your virtual meetings more engaging, take a listen to this episode of the Manage Smarter podcast featuring Jim McCarthy, CEO of Goldstar Events.
How can sellers encourage collaboration via a computer screen? Shaby recommends sellers prioritize facilitating interaction by taking the lead. It’s important that the seller be comfortable with the technology they are using and harness it to create opportunities for collaboration. Sales tools like digital whiteboards, screen sharing, surveys, and chat can be highly effective. Just make sure that whatever tools you use, you’ve had ample practice using them and integrating them into your process.
“When sellers collaborate well virtually, they create value for buyers that buyers perhaps didn’t even know was possible,” he explains. “They capture buyers' imaginations and create shared accountabilities for driving the initiative forward.”
As the fourth B2B sales skill discussed, influencing and driving change is much tougher to do virtually. This imperative is necessary because if you can’t inspire change, you won’t close the deal. Do not shy away from emotional selling and tapping into the prospect’s motivations and goals. One way to do this is storytelling, which puts the buyer directly into a story and paints a picture of how a solution can deliver results. As SalesFuel points out, “While the idea of telling a story during a sales call may seem silly, don’t underestimate it. It creates an emotional connection, deepens trust, boosts sales credibility, and, simply, gets buyers excited to buy.” For even more tips on emotional selling tactics, SalesFuel shares more advice here.
Because virtual selling continues to challenge sellers, honing in on certain B2B sales skills can improve online strategies and lead to more successful outcomes. Be sure to prioritize these four skills to ensure your virtual efforts are rewarded.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio