Virtual Sales Tips and Strategies for a Hybrid World

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As prospects increasingly engage with sales professionals in a virtual sales environment, sales teams are adapting to a changing sales pipeline experience and pivoting to an online-first approach to comfortably meet buyers where they are at. In fact, according to recent McKinsey data, 75 percent of buyers now prefer digital self-serve and remote human engagement over face-to-face interactions.

Sales leaders are learning that in this new hybrid, remote-first sales world, old routines are going out the window. Prospects across industries are requesting remote meetings, shifting the buyer landscape in its entirety. Even as companies begin to find ways to safely bring their employees back into the office, the thought of bringing back travel for routine meetings and demos will remain a low priority. This makes it more important than ever for sales leaders to seek out virtual sales strategies to make the hybrid landscape easier for their teams. 

Below, I’ve outlined three tips and strategies that hybrid sales teams can employ for sustainable success in the new hybrid sales process.

 

Tip 1: Sales teams must conduct thorough research on a prospect going into an introductory call to take advantage of the little time they have

Today’s sales teams get far less in-person time to connect with prospects. In the past, sales teams could rely on a sharp handshake, smile, and a nice restaurant to make a great first impression and project confidence. Today? Sales professionals have just minutes to impress a client over Zoom. As a result, they need to showcase their understanding of the prospect’s needs and propose how they can solve for them in just a few short minutes. Pleasantries are less important than getting to propositional value. Now is the time to be crisp and precise. 

Sales leaders today should focus on developing their team’s time efficiency skills for introductory prospect calls. Focus on value and get to the crux of the conversation quickly. During hybrid work, it’s common for prospect calls to include a few different stakeholders that may join late or hop early for another call. For that reason, sales teams should ensure they’ve shared all key messaging with stakeholders, and discuss the next steps, before any have to leave. 

Of course, as part of doing their research on a prospect, sales teams should also be prepared for their prospect to do research on them. Buyers start their prospecting process on social media to see what competitors and colleagues are talking about and to follow which companies are leading in a given industry. More often than not, we are seeing that buyers self-select into the buying process. In fact, according to recent Forrester data, the number of buying interactions (including self-guided interactions done via internet research) during the pandemic jumped from 17 to 27. That makes your social presence, and your company’s social and content presence, more important than ever. If you don’t yet have a robust content program focused on SEO, consider employing that immediately. 

 

Tip 2: Sales leaders should teach their teams how to use the virtual playing field to their advantage

The tide is changing in sales–and for the better. The virtual sales process has leveled the playing field for all leads. In the past, one company may have had a bigger expense account to treat prospects with, or a larger team to fly out to their office. Today? Physical presence is a lot less important. Instead, what sales teams say and how they say it matters most. If a sales professional can quickly showcase how they will solve a problem for the buyer, they are instantly adding value and likely to have a longer engagement time. Even though sales teams are often unable to physically connect with a buyer over coffee, they can also leverage existing data and content as another touchpoint to stay top of mind and provide value. 

Of course, sales teams should also utilize the remote sales process by using real-time communication tools like Slack to quickly share insights and learnings from calls. For example, it’s easy for a sales lead to quickly Slack another teammate on the call, “Realized I forgot to mention our partnership with HubSpot. Can you call that out next?”

Sales leaders should also request that sales teams record prospect calls whenever possible. This will allow the sales team to craft truly customized follow-ups that address each client’s need mentioned on the call. Equally important to improving the sales process, a recorded call allows sales leaders to review the conversation to provide in-depth feedback to help their direct reports learn and grow. 

 

Tip 3: Ensure your sales team projects the same confidence and professionalism virtually as they would in-person 

Go back to basics. We all understand that it can be tempting to join a prospect call from the messy corner of your kitchen or to join a call without video due to little time to dress a bit more professionally. However, those basics make your strongest first impression on a call. Ultimately, sales teams should be projecting the same confidence they want a prospect to feel in their abilities.

Even more compelling–recent data from Gong showcases that deals are 127 percent more likely to close when the video is used during any point in the sales process. It can feel intimidating but don’t be afraid to set the scene for your prospect and ask if they are able to turn their video on for engagement purposes and to put a face to the name. Of course, if they are unable to do so, it’s always appropriate to mirror their actions. 

Of note, it’s important to remember that it is okay to be human in the virtual sales process. Dogs pacing in the background or kids coming home in between calls is completely normal and humanizes you more than anything. Don’t let that be a reason for turning your video off and potentially diminishing prospect engagement. If it’s something you’re truly self-conscious about, maybe even consider using the blur background feature on Zoom.

 

Conclusion 

Gone are the days of expensive business travel with robust sales teams and of wooing clients face to face. What matters now? Becoming a trusted partner that prospects-turned-clients lean on. The sales process is rapidly changing, so sales leaders should work closely with their teams to ensure virtual-first success. 


Ed Calnan, CRO & Co-Founder, Seismic headshot

Ed Calnan is the co-founder and CRO of Seismic, the global leader in enablement. Ed has over 25 years of experience in sales, sales management and field operations at early-stage, turnaround situations and mature software companies.