Our business world has been turned upside down by the pandemic. Much of our work now takes place via Zoom, Google Meet, or conference calls. This also applies to sales calls. Whereas prior to March 2020, we would think nothing of driving a couple of hours to meet with a prospect, we now schedule a Zoom call and have the meeting online. This change has had a profound impact on how we connect with prospects and how we close deals.
I’m recommending everyone in electronic payments buy and read the book, Virtual Selling; How to Build Relationships, Differentiate and Win Sales Remotely by Mike Schultz, Dave Shaby, and Andy Springer (35 Group Press, 2020). The book is based on the selling techniques and methods (RAIN) espoused in Rainmaking Conversations, a Wall Street Journal bestseller (Wiley, 2011).
Based on my own experiences both as a leader and as a participant in many Zoom meetings over the past two years, plus some suggestions from the book above, I have put together my top 10 list of things to do differently in selling virtually:
The basics of selling haven’t changed a lot, but how you apply them has. You still have to establish a connection with the buyer and develop a rapport or trust. You will still engage the buyer and work with her/him to uncover needs. You will still influence the buyer and persuade him/her to make a decision today. But the methods of building the rapport, holding the discovery call, doing the presentation, and persuading the client will change significantly.
For example, sellers have to be strong leaders in virtual meetings. You have to proactively capture attention and engage participants.
What has changed is the role of the consultative salesperson. Consultants challenge the status quo and educate the client with new perspectives and alternatives. Consultants collaborate with clients on solutions. Consultants show buyers how they will achieve positive results.
Holding attention in a virtual meeting is difficult. You have to be very prepared with visuals that will hold attention and focus the discussion. Graphic rich visuals and interactive demonstrations can help keep attention.
By building rapport, the consultant salesperson can focus the buyer to share what she/he is trying to get done and what’s standing in their way. The consultant salesperson will show the buyer the impact of the right decision (and avoiding the wrong choices) and motivate the buyer to see a new reality and make the right decision.
Build rapport by getting prospects to talk about themselves and their work. Ask rapport-building questions and be real with people. Make the process a shared experience through collaborative work.
Leading the prospect through a discovery call can make of break the decision process. Working from an organized list of questions is actually helpful here.
And it’s ok to share these with the prospect. Organization leads to a thorough examination of “aspirations” and “afflictions” of the prospect.
Be visual. Show the buyer the plan, the payoff, and the impact of the right decision. Use a video presentation or a graphic-rich PowerPoint. Show them the blueprint for success in their project.
Challenge the status quo. Show the buyer the breakthrough that will lead to their new success. Develop a convincing story that will challenge the buyer to embrace the breakthrough that will result in their success.
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