How We Will Sell Virtually in the Future
The value of virtual selling exists on a continuum, going from simple, transactional sales to large, complex sales. Because the outcomes on these poles are so different, virtual selling will operate differently depending on the type of sale.
Larger, Complex Deals Will Include More Face-To-Face Meetings
While many companies and sales leaders believe that virtual sales will eliminate the need to travel, that outcome is unlikely. Especially in larger, more complex deals, many sales conversations will still demand face-to-face meetings. Those deals require a great deal of discovery, to understand technical challenges and how your client can solve them strategically, a goal you can best pursue in person. Similarly, when presenting your solutions and asking for a large investment, you will benefit from being in the same room with your audience.
That said, virtual contexts will work fine for shorter meetings. COVID-19 has normalized many tools for virtual collaboration, so what was once a thirty-minute office visit might now be a Zoom call. Pay attention to which stakeholders join these virtual meetings and how much they engage, as it will help you gauge the value of virtual venues. More people from your side can also join these meetings without additional expense, something that won't happen if you have to travel to a meeting.
Generating Advantage in Large Opportunities
Don't automatically elevate efficiency over effectiveness. Being efficient means reducing the effort necessary to produce a certain result, but when your approach doesn't produce that result, you have wasted 100% of your efficiency.
For example, sending multiple representatives to a meeting indicates how important the client (and the meeting) is to your company. When one company shows up in force and their competitor doesn't, being onsite generates a massive advantage, as it demonstrates caring a factor that shows the client they are going to get the outcomes they need.
Time is another key investment, one that's often overlooked in conversations around virtual selling. In larger, complex deals, you might have two hours of discovery. You might also spend time with different stakeholder groups who happen to be in the same building. Plan and use your time strategically, especially if you are applying a domination strategy to deprive your competitors of time with the client.
Leveraging Virtual Transactions
In sales that are not complex, ones where a face-to-face conversation is not necessary and will not add anything to the decision or experience, virtual tools are going to be efficient and effective for both the sales organization and their clients. In fact, the more transactional a sale tends to be, the more you should rely on them.
Still, if a certain outcome can be generated using only the phone, it can be better pursued on a video conference. Personally, I still have a romantic attachment to telephones, but the fact is that seeing your client is much better than only hearing their voice. You can communicate a lot more that way, creating an experience much closer to a face-to-face meeting.
Learn the New Tools
Salespeople will need a new set of proficiencies to work effectively using virtual tools. They are going to need new and greater technologies when it comes to selling over video, so they can be more proficient in using virtual collaboration tools as they pursue the sales conversation. Don't just choose your tools based on efficiency: sales effectiveness is still going to dominate your agenda, but it will include the ability to sell virtually for some or all of the sales conversation.
Because the medium has changed, the way we sell is going to change. There are going to be new approaches and new innovations in how we handle our sales process, as well as in how we serve our clients as they pursue initiatives to solve their problems.
What will not change will be the need to create value for your clients through your insights, ideas, and experience regardless of the medium and format. You will still need to sell in a way that creates a preference to buy from you.