Though the end of the COVID-19 pandemic may soon be approaching, it’s clear that our buyers will want us to keep our distance for some time to come. A recent study by McKinsey & Company found that 89 percent of sales professionals will prefer virtual sales for at least the next year, and perhaps beyond.
With so much of your company’s future reliant on hand-to-hand combat in the sales theatre, you must commit to an understanding of how to best communicate with your buyer – a nuanced affair that requires all of the virtual arrows in your quiver.
Let’s take a look at some of the tools used for “distance selling,” and look at the best practices, pros, and cons of using each in the pursuit of deals:
LinkedIn: This social network has become a familiar way for sales organizations to conduct prospecting activities, and “InMail” messages offer a velvet rope into the VIP lounge with any order of desired prospective buyers. That said, once you’ve made your connection and the prospect agrees to hear what you have to say, quickly move out of this forum, and use any of the choices that follow to continue the dialogue.
Email: If you are looking for a quick touch-base, or to answer a couple of questions, you can generally use email without too much objection – and too much risk of a non-response. If you start writing and feel like you’re starting down the track of a novella, it’s best at this point simply to pick up the phone or schedule a call and relay the information verbally.
Video Conferencing: Though Zoom, Teams, and WebEx video calls have become ubiquitous these past several months, it’s always best for seller and buyer to agree on its use ahead of time. There is, in fact, such a thing as “Zoom etiquette,” and it can be a hardship for an unprepared buyer to pop on a video call. Wardrobe, hair, and makeup are new, but real, considerations in the virtual world. Not every meeting needs to be a video call, but video does create an avenue to build more trust if used effectively when appropriate.
Phone: The time-honored phone call should not be discounted, even in this era of virtual selling. Calls tend to be the most portable (you can literally be anywhere, including places where a WiFi signal may not be evident) and the most comfortable for the camera shy. I always recommend that if a week or more has passed since the last communication with your buyer, you should simply pick up the phone and call or TEXT if you’ve reached the Everest of trust with your buyer.
A couple of additional suggestions:
- Highlight the mode of communication in your meeting invite: By elevating the modality to the subject line, your buyer will know, at a glance, what to expect.
- Send an agenda ahead of time: Even for a phone communication, it’s always nice for your buyer to know what to expect when they hear from you.
- Be prepared to switch: A communication that starts as a call or email exchange may quickly escalate if the juices are flowing. Have your video conferencing app open and ready, in case a quick screen-share will provide the impetus to move the deal forward.
Remember: Having an open line of communication to your buyer is a powerful ally, and the more modalities that your buyer is allowing you to employ in their pursuit, the better. When used properly, and in the right combination, your sales pros can create tighter bonds of trust, reduce the length of your sales cycle, and become more productive overall.
If your team could use a refresher on the skills needed to master virtual selling, The Brooks Group can help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.