With remote work becoming the norm, sales professionals are working virtually more than ever before. And according to the 2023 HubSpot Sales Trends Report, 56% of sales pros have found that selling remotely or through a hybrid model has actually made the sales process smoother.
However, to capitalize on these advantages, it's crucial to acquire specific skills to build relationships and present compelling value propositions without face-to-face interactions with customers.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know to excel at virtual sales, including:
What is virtual selling?
Virtual selling is the process of selling products or services remotely, typically using communication technology like video calls, online meetings, email, or chat. It allows sales professionals to interact with prospects and customers without being physically present.
In fact, in a recent McKinsey study, 61% of survey respondents said that, before the pandemic, they primarily sold their business’ products through traditional in-person sales — that number has since fallen to 29%. The same respondents also said that their business’ products and services are now primarily sold online via video conferencing tools.
Virtual Selling Skills
Even with a return to in-person lifestyles, only 20% of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales. As it’s here to stay, let’s review some essential skills to succeed at virtual selling.
1. The ability to use technology.
To sell online, you need to be comfortable using different technologies to meet your sales goals, especially selling over video, as it is the preferred method of communication for most sales activities.
Using technology also means a general ability to troubleshoot technical issues that may arise, like walking a prospect through the process of authorizing their computer microphone to be used on Zoom.
2. Strong communication skills.
Selling online requires clear and effective communication to ensure nothing gets lost between screens and everything is understood as well as it would be during an in-person conversation.
This includes writing clearly and concisely, speaking clearly, and providing accurate information. You should also be comfortable talking on the phone or via video chat.
3. The ability to build relationships virtually.
71% of sales reps say that building personal rapport has a substantial impact on converting a prospect. As you might never meet your customers face-to-face, an essential part of virtual selling is being able to build relationships online.
Prioritize developing conversational rapport, establishing trust, and humanizing yourself during online interactions, so you don’t just seem like a face behind a screen.
4. Staying motivated.
Selling can be challenging, even in the best of circumstances. When you’re selling online, it’s important to try and stay positive and motivated.
Some tried and true strategies for staying motivated if you feel yourself slipping are:
- Considering the likely impact you’ve already brought some of your customers
- Breaking up tasks into manageable smaller projects
- Knowing when to take breaks or log off for the day
- Asking for help when you need it.
Below we’ll discuss virtual selling tips that, combined with your skills, will help you excel at virtual sales.
Virtual Selling Tips
1. Be prepared for challenges.
Connecting with your prospects will be challenging if you don’t know anything about them before you talk. Unless you’re having a discovery conversation, not knowing anything about them would be a waste of time because you’d spend more time learning about who they are than making value propositions for your product or service.
So, as with any sales process, excelling at virtual sales means being prepared. You want to do your homework on your prospects and learn who they are, their pain points, and how they relate to your business.
2. Help buyers feel comfortable.
Connecting virtually might feel awkward, so it’s essential to help prospects and buyers feel comfortable on all the virtual platforms you use, especially if you meet over video calls.
Help buyers feel comfortable as soon as calls begin so you can develop a rapport that helps them feel ready to open up and have a valuable conversation. A great way to do this is by starting with small talk to ease into the conversation and build a connection. This list of conversation starters is also helpful for beginning sales conversations lightheartedly.
3. Show buyers how the virtual sales process will occur.
Virtual selling and buying are different from the traditional sales process your prospects might be used to. So, it can be helpful to show them ahead of time what the process looks like.
You can do this by sharing a roadmap that outlines the process so they know what to expect to help them feel more at ease with the knowledge of what’s coming next.
For example, customers might wonder how they ensure the safety of signing a document if they can’t meet with you in person. You can ease this worry by letting them know you use secure document signing services that facilitate safe, online document signing services.
4. Vary your communication process to retain interest.
A great way to level up your virtual sales process and make virtual selling interesting and engaging is to alternate how you communicate virtually.
For example, change how you share information by sending pre-recorded and personalized sales videos over email and sometimes opting for a face-to-face video meeting.
The process will be less monotonous, and new ways of communicating with your business can keep engagement high.
5. Leverage high-powered visuals.
Visuals are another great way to keep prospects engaged during a virtual sales process as it changes how they receive the content you share with them. Visuals can be pictures, diagrams, or anything you can use to display your words in a new way and capture attention.
Visuals are also a great way to drive home the emphasis of the points you make. For example, if your customers achieve a 50% higher close rate with your CRM. You can say this to them, but you can also make the impact of your words stronger if you can show this statistic to them as a graph and compare their closing rate before and after they began using your CRM.
6. Be prepared to iterate.
Although virtual sales are becoming more popular, it’s still a new sales channel. As a result, there aren’t established field guides or processes to follow that meet the needs of every single business, so it’s important to be prepared to, ready to, and willing to iterate on your virtual sales process as time goes on.
Over to You
It might take some trial and error, but the more you interact with your customers online the easier it will be to create a virtual sales process free of kinks that helps you connect with leads and drive sales as well as you would in-person.
Editor's note: This article was originally published September 2022 and has since been updated for comprehensiveness.