Business person wearing headset, talking at virtual meeting.
Small businesses can take advantage of remote sales calls to shorten the sales cycle, improve relationships and close deals. — Getty Images/ insta_photos

A sales call is a pre-scheduled meeting between two parties and may include several internal or external stakeholders. But there are distinct differences between in-person conversations and virtual sales calls.

Therefore, many salespeople face a learning curve when making sales calls virtually. After all, it’s harder to keep a lead’s attention and gauge their responses. Your sales team may miss the personal connection of in-person meetings or struggle with technology tools like video conferencing.

However, salespeople and leads benefit from extra pre-call prep and virtual sales techniques. Learn how to engage your leads remotely using the following best practices.

Virtual sales calls: then and now

According to Bain & Company, only 54% of sellers felt remote sales calls were effective in May 2020. However, this percentage jumped to 79% in 2021. As sales teams perfected their methods, they saw benefits, such as lower costs and “the ability to interact with more prospects.”

Moreover, Bain & Company finds that 92% of business-to-business (B2B) buyers favor virtual sales calls, “up 17 percentage points” from the previous year.

Although challenges exist, many small businesses can take advantage of remote sales calls to shorten the sales cycle, improve relationships and finalize deals. Going forward, leaders should assess current systems and identify training opportunities.

Evaluate your sales process

A sales process refers to the steps your team takes to close a sale. Several take place online, such as sales prospecting and preparation. But many methods involve on-site demonstrations and meetings to handle objections. Sales processes are effective because they’re repeatable and measurable.

Before creating a virtual sales process, decide how workflows differ from in-person selling. Examine recently closed deals to determine customer touchpoints and timelines. Watch your sales reps in action and ask for their input on changes. For example, you may need to:

  • Update the buyer’s journey for your target persona.
  • Note online activities that move a prospect to the next phase.
  • Determine how exit criteria differ from in-person sales.
  • Review current metrics and ensure these work for selling virtually.

Offer modern sales training

Salesforce reports that “32% of salespeople rate their company’s training and coaching as excellent.” This suggests there’s a skills gap resulting in lost sales. On-demand training materials, including tutorials and videos, allow for personalized learning opportunities.

Content may include tips for building rapport or active listening. But, it should also assess technology comfort levels and ask sales reps where they think they fall short.

Your business phone system is a good source for on-the-job training. Features like call whisper, call monitoring and call barge allows supervisors to coach sales agents in real-time. Call analytics and sentiment data offer insights about individuals. It also identifies what makes top virtual sellers different from their peers.

While digital interactions are different from in-person conversations, customer engagement is still the top priority.

Get comfortable with technology before virtual selling

The Rain Group Center for Sales Research says, “more than eight in 10 buyers” have experienced “technology problems, poor visuals, non-responsiveness and a lack of preparation.”

For starters, pick a sales tool and get comfortable with it. Sales reps should understand how all features work and have a backup plan if problems occur. Next, invest in a headset with a built-in microphone and a desk light or ring light. Lastly, create a pre-meeting technology checklist that includes items, such as:

  • Verify that your microphone, speakers and camera work.
  • Reduce glare from backlighting and overhead lighting.
  • Select clothing that provides contrast to your background.
  • Close unnecessary applications and browser tabs.
  • Disable on-screen notifications.
  • Practice demos, slideshows, screen sharing and document sharing.

Tips for making sales calls virtually

For a virtual sales call to be memorable, it needs to be interactive. Moreover, sales reps should anticipate questions, actively listen, maintain eye contact and pay attention to body language. Use these virtual sales tips to improve your next call:

  • Focus on the buyer and demonstrate value immediately.
  • Pause every few minutes during a demo to answer questions.
  • Add animation and movement in your remote sales presentation.
  • Ask your prospect to participate via a poll or editable slides.
  • Always close the call with a call-to-action.

Track engagement when selling virtually

Virtual meetings via phile or video are essential. While digital interactions are different from in-person conversations, customer engagement is still the top priority. Help your team realize success by giving them the resources and training to be prepared.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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