Despite the fact that we’re approaching the first anniversary of the full-time transition to virtual work environments for many industries, I still see some of the same errors in virtual sales as I did last March.
The fact of the matter is that virtual sales aren’t going anywhere, and sales reps must embrace the power of virtual sales presentations to reach their full potential. Here at House of Revenue™, I have the privilege of selling and being sold to, allowing me to utilize the best techniques while identifying and straying far away from the virtual mistakes that ruin a deal.
This post will outline some of the most powerful virtual sales techniques you should incorporate now to improve your sales performance. For a deeper dive into the subject, complete the full training video in our sales training room.
Create a Professional Virtual Selling Environment
One of the biggest struggles in the virtual realm is making digital interactions feel personal. As a sales rep, it’s your job to make a prospect focus all their attention on how your service or product solves their problem, not on everything wrong with your selling environment.
Your first impression matters in the virtual realm, perhaps even more so than an in-person meeting given the number of potential distractions facing a prospect who may be 2,000 miles away from you. To eliminate those distractions and make an exceptional first impression, consider the following when building your selling environment.
- Equipment and Technology — Your computer must be able to handle various web meeting tools and be powerful enough to run multiple applications simultaneously without holdups.
- Lighting — Improper lighting is one of the biggest distractions in the virtual environment. Natural light should be shining on your face, not from your back. Ring lights also illuminate your face evenly. If using Zoom, explore its low-light settings to show your prospect who they’re engaging with.
- Background — I feel like some people still need to hear this — nobody is laughing at your Zoom background. Virtual backgrounds should be professional to avoid potential distractions and confusion from your prospect. If you use a natural background, make sure it is clean and minimal for the same reasons. But don’t use an unprofessional, uploaded Zoom background for comedic purposes or just to get a rise.
- Sound Output — Audio is crucial during virtual presentations. Just imagine giving the sales pitch of your life, but glitchy audio prevented your prospect from understanding half of it. Headphones and lapel mics often ensure the best audio transmission, and if you’re using wireless options like AirPods, take the time to establish connectivity before the meeting.
- Webcam Angle — Ensure your camera angle is in line with your eyes to give the best impression of a face-to-face conversation. When speaking, remember to look at the camera itself rather than the person on screen to further that personal connection.
- Water, Pens, and Paper — Interrupting a meeting to grab a glass of water or find your pen and notepad can ruin its entire flow. Before the meeting starts, make sure you have everything you need directly in front of you.
- Appearance — We don’t want to admit it, but people are judgemental. Your appearance matters on virtual calls just as much as it does during in-person interactions, but so many people have become laissez-faire with their clothing and presentation that dressing to impress can actually stand out.
When you’re interacting with a customer during any point of their journey — qualification, discovery, client engagement, upselling, etc. — you’re on stage. Developing a professional virtual selling environment is a must to earn and maintain their trust throughout the process.
Master Your Technology
If you are leading a meeting, it’s your responsibility to master the technology in use, period. When glitches happen and you are unable to respond to them in front of your customer, it makes you come off as unprepared and unprofessional.
Take the time to test different technologies and master them so your interactions can continue without any hiccups. Keep these technology tips in mind when setting and running a virtual presentation.
- Don’t neglect the meeting invite. Meeting invites are a great place to add meeting agendas to keep everyone on the same page. Also, be sure to include everything someone may need to attend the meeting, including personalized timezone information, call-in numbers, and meeting passwords.
- Monitor the meeting room. Have you ever showed up to a virtual meeting on time just to receive the note that the host has yet to start a meeting? It’s small things like this that aggravate potential clients, myself included. Open your meeting room early and admit all attendees at the same time for a clean introduction that includes everyone.
- Troubleshoot technology issues. Use your mastery of the technology and tools being used to help attendees troubleshoot any technical issues they are experiencing. From connectivity issues to engagement, show them that you’re the expert.
- Be mindful of lags. Depending on a participant’s connectivity, audio lags can be infuriating and disruptive throughout the meeting. If you notice one early, take the time to restart the meeting — it will be worth it in the long run. If it is a specific person’s connection, be mindful that there will likely be a lag throughout the meeting, and notify other members of it.
When you can lead a virtual meeting without technology getting in the way, you are one step closer to winning the deal.
Develop a Pre-Call Plan
No matter how well you may think you know the subject at hand and recent trends in the industry...Do. Not. Wing It.
Entering a meeting without at least a framework in place will almost certainly cause you to miss a step in the process, and potentially lose the deal because of it. We’ve discussed the importance of pre-call plans and preparedness at length in our sales training room, and it remains incredibly important in our expanded virtual workplaces.
Follow these three steps when developing your pre-call plan to set you up for a successful interaction.
- Profiling — Show your prospect that you’ve taken the time to understand them and their company by entering the meeting with a wealth of knowledge about current trends and problems they may be experiencing. Within this step, remember to:
- Profile each contact. Everyone has different day-to-day struggles, and understanding those intimately allows you to relate to different buyers.
- Profile the company. Understand their size, locations, success stories, industry trends, and more to develop great talking points.
- Build discovery questions. Master the 11 types of discovery questions to build trust with your prospect.
- Create a Flexible Roadmap — Roadmaps are an effective way to direct the flow of a meeting, but it’s important to remain flexible and react to the flow of the meeting. If a meeting is off track in a bad way, a roadmap with potential questions or talking points allows you to bring it back. At the same time, a conversation may go a completely different way than you intended, and that can be a good thing.
- Introduce Technology Beforehand — One way to avoid some of the aforementioned technical issues is by ensuring everyone on the call understands what to expect. Inform your prospects of the technology you prefer beforehand to set expectations going into a meeting.
If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you likely already know how zealous I am about PCE — passion, conviction, and enthusiasm. Take a minute to revisit our blog about the importance of PCE before understanding these six engagement strategies.
- Confirm how much time is available. It’s easy to see an hour blocked on the schedule and assume that everyone on the call has that same hour blocked off. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Quickly confirm the amount of available time at the beginning of the meeting so you can pivot accordingly without being surprised when someone leaves the call halfway through.
- Confirm the agenda. After verifying the meeting length, get everyone on the same page by announcing the agenda. This should set expectations for the meeting and what everyone should walk away with.
- Leave time to schedule the next steps. As part of the agenda, let everyone know that you are purposefully leaving time at the end of the meeting to schedule the next steps. Whether it be the next meeting or a list of deliverables, this short conversation is imperative.
- Engage visually and emotionally. It's a common habit to respond and engage verbally in person, but in the virtual space, it actually comes across as an interjection. Use physical and emotional cues, like head nods and smiles, rather than interjections to engage with clients when they are speaking.
- Acknowledge and incorporate all meeting members. If someone is on a meeting, they should be there. By discussing the agenda at the beginning, you can better understand what everyone’s purpose for being here is. This makes it easier to keep them engaged and invites them to contribute throughout a conversation.
- Do not disconnect without aligning on the next steps. Since you allotted 5 minutes at the end of the meeting for scheduling, this shouldn’t be an issue, but ending a call without the next steps in place can be detrimental and lead to ghosting and a lost deal. Make sure you get the next meeting and on the calendar before signing off.
Take the Next Steps
Virtual sales presentations are a must in modern business, and it’s time for you to master these techniques and begin implementing them in your process. To begin, watch a previous recording of a sales call and evaluate your performance based on all these suggestions.
Did your virtual environment come off as distracting or unprofessional? Did you take the time to set a roadmap and prepare questions for your prospect? How did you encourage different team members to engage throughout the call?
Then, Identify the areas of improvement you can immediately take advantage of during your next virtual sales presentation.