2020 introduced a major shift in workplace conditions and priorities, favoring remote work. In sales, the transition to remote selling might be relatively challenging for salespeople used to engaging and selling in-person.
But, remote work isn’t a new concept — globally, an average of 62% of companies were already set up to work remotely. With democratized access to tools and technologies, communicating remotely is easier than ever.
In remote work environments, employees find themselves more productive, and organizations end up reducing costs and managing risk better. Suffice to say; it might just be the new normal. Sales has been one of the most travel-intensive functions, and if you’re part of a sales team, you need to figure out this transition without letting it affect your bottom line.
The fact of the matter is, if you don’t know how selling remotely changes your customers’ buying experience, you’ll have a tough time retaining them.
Today we’ll explore what these changes are and learn strategies that will help you adapt to these changes.
What Changes Should You Expect Selling Remotely?
Qualification and introductory engagements with leads were already happening online. In a remote setting, you will have to move these crucial in-person meetings to online channels as well.
You can’t replicate intangible aspects of an in-person meeting, like being able to communicate openly, read body language, and pick up on other non-verbal communication such as facial cues online. Apart from this — products and services that need in-person demonstrations will make it tricky for salespeople to sell via video conferencing.
Your buyers are also refraining from in-person meetings and are interacting primarily in the online space. That might make it difficult for them to commit or spare their attention. Emails, texts, and calendar invitations are easier to postpone or ignore than set in-person meetings.
So, how do you adapt to these changes and make sure you don’t lose customers? Let’s find out.
6 Ways To Improve Customer Retention While Selling Remotely
1. Reduce turnaround time on sales communications.
Lack of instant feedback can often lead to customers not being able to find quick answers to problems they’d have otherwise solved in-person. Make sure to counter for this with consistent, quick responses on your sales related queries and communications. Not providing your customers with quick answers runs you the risk of them moving forward without you, or churning out prematurely.
Set up mobile and desktop notifications for new messages from your customers. This will help you respond quickly to make the back and forth more instantaneous.
Additionally, closing a customer shouldn’t mean you’re done with them. As a salesperson, you’ll still be the point of contact for your customer post-sales whether they might ask for it or not. Keep an eye on customer support tickets and product analytics to see if you can escalate things for them to keep customer satisfaction and recurring sales opportunities high.
2. Refresh your customer engagement playbook.
Once a lead is being nurtured in your pipeline, you would have them enrolled into a nurturing cadence. While these cadences might have previously included setting up in-person meetings, be sure to update things like email copy to ensure that your communications are all relevant and accurate. Don’t forget to also keep your leads engaged with relevant content across online channels.
As we discussed earlier, grabbing hold of your lead’s attention won’t be easy. In fact, Hubspot research found that while more emails were sent out during the pandemic, buyers are actually engaging less with the content and salespeople are seeing fewer responses.
That doesn’t mean you should stop reaching out. However, you should change how you write follow up emails, and experiment with your subject lines, sales collateral, and other factors until you find a winning combination. Your goal should be to deliver attention-grabbing, quality content that offers value in one form or another, making it easier for them to make a purchase decision.
3. Enable quick decision-making.
As a sales leader, you should ensure that your team can make decisions on behalf of the company without being bottlenecked. If that’s not the case, engagements and support tickets will take longer to get resolved. It robs your customer of seamless services and you of generating value for the company.
With differences in geography and timezones, this delay might only get worse. Have guidelines around the leeway your team has for your customers and empower them to make decisions when appropriate.
4. Under-promise and over-deliver.
At times, you might want to inflate claims and promises on product offerings for the sake of a sale. While this might work in the short term, it will end up underwhelming your customers and decrease the likelihood of delighting them. And this can especially be the case while communicating remotely because emotions and reactions can’t be conveyed very well through messages.
Delight is an integral part of the customer experience and often can dictate a customer’s lifetime value. What you should do is under-promise (and over-deliver) as this approach manages and exceeds your customers’ expectations. While it might not save much in terms of cost and effort, it'll be likely to delight them and be a reason for them to stay.
5. Direct customer delight towards reviews and references.
Once you have managed to delight your customers, enable them to contribute further towards your success. Having these delighted customers referring and reviewing your product on online platforms can generate more leads for you. It lends a sense of ownership and belonging for your customers since they’ve invested time into making you look good.
It also brings opportunities for co-marketing activities, promotions and deals that might increase the value of your relationship. The result — your business has a robust online presence and an excellent reputation, thanks to your delighted customers. This system will become a flywheel that generates more customers who also stay with you for longer.
6. Offer flexible payments and plans.
A lot of businesses had to scale back or shut down their operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While these events might have short term impacts — you should realize that long term relationships are built by trusting and enriching each other.
Your existing payment plans and pricing might not be suitable for some of your customers during stressful times like these. In such cases, if you’re able to, try extending alternative payment and pricing plans that not only retain their business, but make them feel cared for and valued.
These shouldn’t drastically reduce your revenue or profits. There might be temporary dips in metrics like average revenue per user — but realize that retaining a customer at lower revenue is often better and less costly than losing them.
The strategies mentioned above are centered around making it easy for your customers to buy from you — regardless of the tools and processes in place. In a nutshell, get obsessed with your customer’s changing needs and priorities, and aim to maintain a lasting relationship with them. They wouldn’t really have a reason to leave.