Virtual Sales Conversations

More and more sales calls are taking place virtually.  Selling in a virtual sales environment saves time and money. It’s more convenient. It’s more practical. More and more customers are demanding it.

So what are the new challenges that this now common phenomena has imposed on the sales process?

The biggest challenges are “being there” and “staying there.” It’s so easy to interact while at the same time being inattentive.  In a face-to-face meeting, your physical presence pretty much demands you stay tuned in.  In a virtual meeting, it is tempting and easy to multitask or just drift away.  Unless you participate as actively as you would in a face-to-face sales call, you’ll likely miss valuable information and cues that could cost you the sale.  Even with full attention, by not being in the same room, and to a certain extent even with video, it is more challenging to pick up subtle and not-so-subtle cues that register how a customer is responding.  Hitting the mute button, while it has its time and place, allows you to multitask and paves the way for interruptions.

A few tips to follow to help you engage in productive and professional virtual sales calls:

  • Avoid making sounds such as rustling paper, tearing a sheet of paper out of a tablet; opening a soda can, sipping a beverage, even tapping away to respond to a quick email.  The slightest sound can be picked up.
  • Attention spans are shorter over the internet or phone, so keep the presentation:
    • Short and crisp
    • Clearly organized
    • Interactive
  • If your team members are in different locations, use technology to communicate with one another during the call especially in negotiation situations.
  • Create an agenda even if you do not share it with your customer to help you and your team members manage the flow and content of the call.
  • Email or send materials in advance or prepare customer to expect materials during the call.
  • Check for feedback to keep the customer’s attention and to help compensate for not being able to read non-verbal cues. For example, ask, “How does that work?” “What questions do you have?”
  • If video, look into the camera as you speak. Remain an active participant when you are not speaking. Be aware of your level of attention and body language when customers or teammates are speaking.
  • As for dress, avoid prints, stripes, and anything that will create motion or glare or make noise.

Pace your comments in a way that allows for the pause that often occurs between when someone speaks and when the sound is transmitted.

  • Use all your selling skills. Don’t forget to start with some level of rapport.  Ask questions. Take notes.  Tailor what you say. Elicit feedback. End with next steps.
  • To let virtual sales calls work for you, there’s no slacking off.

Technology saves time and money, and it demands you compensate for not being there in person.