Virtual engagement of prospects and clients is now likely a very common activity for salespeople, thanks to the shift from in-person meetings. Reps have had to quickly embrace this communication method, and most were not doing that many virtual meetings (SalesFuel recently reported that only 27% of salespeople said over half of their sales activities were virtual pre-COVID-19.) Salespeople must innovate and adapt, and Jackie Light, in a CloserIQ article, agrees that they shouldn’t waste any time doing so. “By effectively addressing how traditional methods of customer engagement influence buyer behavior, sellers can continue to foster those relationships with these new, innovative, and thoughtful methods that span across a number of occasions,” she writes.
Virtual engagement can be easy
In her article, Light points out that screen-time meet-ups with prospects and clients shouldn’t be dry, all-business affairs. Focusing only on business makes these virtual engagements even more impersonal than they may already feel. It’s up to reps to keep personal touches and nuances going even at a distance. Consider her suggestions:
- Virtual happy hour. Invite prospects and clients to a post-work Zoom meeting, complete with a mini cocktail kit. “One way to engage prospects is to schedule a virtual happy hour, but go the extra mile and send them an inexpensive but impressive virtual cocktail kit,” she suggests. “These convenient little tins carry all of the non-alcoholic ingredients that they’ll need to craft a classic cocktail in their own home, providing the much-needed experience that those working from home might be seeking.” Do you or your client not drink alcohol? Consider setting up a coffee or tea hour, and once they agree, mail out a little corresponding kit, whether it be a tea sampler or fresh grounds from a cafe. Virtual engagement with a social slant can come across as refreshingly different from other online meetings. Light points out research that shows informal socializing actually can increase the chance of persuasion. Salespeople will be showing a more personable, human side to the prospect or client, which can help with trust, reliability and general rapport. Plus, the small gift you send will also inevitably have a positive impact. Also, during these socially-focused virtual engagements, keep the conversation business-light as well. Exploring topics that aren’t related to work can help uncover shared interests, as well as clue you in to their personality and persona.
- Virtual experience. Another virtual engagement that will help you connect meaningfully with others is sharing an online experience. This suggestion also relies heavily on the social aspect of meeting, which Light says is so important to sustaining healthy relationships. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a big increase in the availability of virtual experiences, ranging from group trivia to performances and even escape rooms. If you have a group of prospects or clients, these experiences can be particularly ideal. “They can be ideal for building relationships with a small cohort of customers in the same phase of the funnel or sending a thank-you to an individual client for a recent purchase or partnership,” she explains.
- Short, personal videos. Think of this virtual engagement as a friendly “hello” in an entertaining video format. Light suggests that you create short, 5 or 10-minute videos, that will serve as both a friendly check-in and a valuable outreach. Did the prospect or client recently have a question? You can use video to give the answer or to make sure that the answer you previously gave was clearly understood. Or, if you've done research on their industry like many reps do, consider updating them about any new happenings. Be sure to use their name to make it as personal as possible, and don’t forget to add some kind of value to this virtual engagement. And just as important, keep it light and casual. “Keep in mind that videos shouldn’t be fancy or interesting, as you may risk coming off too eager or salesy.,” she writes. “Keep them simple and embrace the authenticity of working from home; in order to resonate, ensure that videos are a reflection of yourself and your own working situation.”
Don’t just use digital meetings to discuss business; use them to connect with clients and prospects during a time when connections are extra important. Use these virtual engagements to strengthen relationships, learn more and deliver value, even while at a distance.