Sales are increasingly shifting online; some deals are even done without a single in-person meeting. Even though reps have been selling via phone and video for decades, virtual selling can still be intimidating. How can you adapt your sales practices to connect emotionally and build rapport effectively through a screen?
Rapport definitely still matters in sales, but it has shifted slightly in regard to remote selling. In an article for Sales Hacker, Madison Simon writes, “Historically, sales reps built rapport through offline, casual conversations about anything… Nowadays, buyers have more options and information is readily available…The newest, most valuable form of rapport increases credibility and requires proof or relevance.” Rather than simply relying on in-person pleasantries like in the past, virtual sales require something deeper to create rapport.
Sales practices for building rapport online
Simon goes on to share ways that sellers can demonstrate rapport-building value and credibility. One of the recommended actions is to personalize every outreach. Your prospects are inundated with digital “stuff,” ranging from emails to pop-up ads to social media posts. To break through, you need to personalize your communication. “People only spend an average of 10 seconds reading an email from a brand,” she writes. “So as a sales rep, use personalization to help the buyer see that booking time on your calendar is worth it.”
This simple tactic can have a major impact. Personalizing the subject line of an email with their first name to mentioning a recent post they shared on social media can add just enough personal touch to stand out and spark connection. Check out our guidance for using digital tools during the sales process, including how to master those outreach emails and engaging via social networks.
Adding video to a message can also be a great way to virtually grow rapport through personalization. It can also add much-needed humanization to those digital communications. “One-to-one video is revolutionizing the B2B sales process and timeline,” writes Tyler Lessard, VP of marketing for Selling Power. “Thousands of sales reps around the globe are now infusing video messages into their outreach efforts. As a result, they’re boosting response rates, getting to people faster and closing more deals.”
Seeing your face, body language and expressions on screen can help them see you as a personal acquaintance rather than just an impersonal name attached to an email. And putting together video content for outreach doesn’t have to be intimidating or time consuming. For tips on how to implement videos into your strategy, whether they are short check-in greetings or longer demos, check out our past advice.
Demonstrate value and care with each demo
Another necessary virtual sales practice is to ensure your presentations and demos always showcase value and that the care and effort you put into them is always evident. We have some great tips, which you can find here, for effectively crafting a virtual presentation. And Simon has a few of her own suggestions:
- Use notes from previous discussions to customize the demonstration.
- Repeat statements that the client previously made throughout the demo.
- Custom-brand the demonstration using materials provided by your client so that they can visualize their own team using the tool.
- Don’t show features or functionalities that aren’t relevant to your client’s specific situation.
- Trim down presentation decks and spend more time showing proofs of concept in a working platform.
Even though you’re presenting virtually, this sales practice will demonstrate your interest in the prospect and provide relevant value. These elements combine to nurture an emotional connected despite not being face-to-face.
As Simon adds, “…rapport in sales isn’t really dead. It just looks different.” By evolving to give buyers what they value, you can nurture and build relationships both off- and online.
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions
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