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Between the recent COVID-19 travel restrictions and social distancing mandates, there has been a sharp decline in business travel across the globe. Several major companies like Slack, Twitter, Salesforce, and Amazon have even implemented a long-term switch to remote work.
With many physical offices closed this year, salespeople who’ve previously relied heavily on in-person meetings have been left to rethink their sales strategies and figure out how to adjust accordingly. And research indicates that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
So how can you successfully pivot from closing sales over business dinners and handshakes to sealing deals on Zoom calls and virtual waves? Try these 3 tactics:
1. Provide Empathy and Be a Good Listener
This has been a time of major uncertainty and change in countless industries. In order to be successful, you need to adopt a mindset of empathy and compassion. During difficult times, pushy sales tactics are a guaranteed way to put people off. Instead, shift your strategy to sharing your knowledge with your prospects, rather than focusing on selling your products or services. Listen to your customers and ask them how they are adapting to the new normal. Addressing their needs and providing information and support when they need you the most will help you garner trust and respect. Once they are ready to pull the trigger on the sale, they will remember how you invested in them without expecting something in return.
2. Use Video Whenever You Can
Not everyone feels comfortable in front of the camera, but if you can get used to doing video calls, it will help you establish better relationships. Remember to look at the camera, adjust your lighting, and wear professional attire—at least from the waist up! Zoom, Google Meet, RingCentral, GoToMeeting, WebEx, and Skype are all good tools for video conferencing.
Lastly, if you’d like to get on a video call, make sure to let people know and ask them if they are ok with turning their cameras on prior to setting up the call. There’s nothing worse than expecting a regular call and not being prepared to be on camera due to lack of communication from the organizer.
3. Create Valuable Virtual Experiences and Interactions
If you relied on tradeshows, conferences, or networking events pre-COVID-19, why not recreate those experiences in a virtual setting? Here are a few examples:
Although you may want to get right down to business, it’s important to first thank everyone for attending your virtual event and then to take a few moments to for some small quick small talk. Since you aren’t physically in front of people, spending a few minutes chatting before beginning your presentation will help foster the interpersonal connection that’s difficult to achieve in a virtual setting. Once you’re ready to present, remember that people have a much shorter attention span when attending virtual events. It is easy for attendees distracted, so make sure you modify your messaging in order to not ramble on. You have to get to the point a lot quicker than you would in a face-to-face setting.
Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure there is value in what you are presenting. Try to figure out if there is a way you can modify your content to be more of a learning experience than a sales pitch. You want attendees to feel that it was informative and worth their time to attend. In order to combat boredom, keep the content engaging and collaborative by creating an interactive questionnaire, live polls, or allow time at the end for questions.
Virtual conferences are still relatively new to everyone. Since you can’t just physically walk up to a person you’d like to speak with, it is may be a bit awkward to try and strike up a conversation. Be relaxed and try to ask natural questions. You can connect with other attendees through live chats and ask them what their key takeaways were or how they will apply what they’ve learned at the conference to their jobs.
Although it may feel unnatural and uncomfortable to attend a virtual networking group, remember that everyone else is probably feeling the same way. Introduce yourself and ask some open-ended questions that allow people to share more about themselves.
The pivot to virtual selling allows businesses the opportunity to employ new sales techniques. By implementing these strategies and creating a new sales paradigm, you can fast-track your company’s growth and stay one step ahead of your competition.
Check out our additional COVID-19 resources for small business owners here.
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