As is the case with many other industries, the past few years have seen a dramatic shift toward remote selling environments. Driven initially by pandemic needs and then by the need for enhanced flexibility, the shift toward more effective sales operations might have been inevitable—but its implications are still significant.
According to Gartner research, 60% of Chief Sales Officers expect their sales teams to remain primarily virtual in the long run. And yet, a recent HubSpot survey found that only 54% of sales reps found remote sales to be just as or more effective than in-person sales—meaning nearly half (46%) consider remote sales less effective.
That’s not to say, of course, that remote selling doesn’t have the potential to be just as or even more effective than its more traditional counterpart. Get it right, and your organization has a chance of building an immensely successful sales operation. So let’s dig in, with 7 strategies that can improve your sales team’s efforts, drive more effective sales, and improve your sales ROI.
1. Personalize Your Outreach
For in-person sales presentations and other more traditional outreach, personalization is nearly automatic. Your reps familiarize themselves with the people in the room and tailor their sales efforts accordingly. But that is not the case online, where much of the outreach happens through technology, and it’s easy to take the same approach for every lead and prospect.
That approach, however, comes with potentially significant pitfalls. For example, one recent study found that only 26% of buyers find sellers to be effective at leading a thorough needs discovery process. In other words, technology may make remote selling easier, but that ease doesn’t necessarily translate to increased effectiveness or ROI.
Fortunately, technology also brings potentially immense advantages. Today’s customers expect personalized outreach from brands and sales reps, even and especially in virtual environments. Work with your sales team to leverage technology to build and maintain that personalization—such as practicing effective soft sales skills in online environments, using video calls, implementing effective CRM management, and beyond.
2. Keep Your Communication Clear and to the Point
Today’s online attention span is even shorter than it is for traditional interactions. Where an in-person prospect may be willing to listen to a 30-minute pitch, that same prospect will have much less patience in a remote environment.
That, in turn, makes clear and on-point communication absolutely vital. No more beating around the bush. Instead, sales reps must be trained in how to listen, respond, and say exactly what is needed to convince the prospect they’re interacting with quickly, using only as much virtual space and time as needed to fully get the benefits across.
This also means segmenting and understanding your customers. The more you can tailor any outreach to their individual needs, the better you can build a pitch that presents a specific solution to them.
Keep in mind that clear and concise communication matters regardless of the virtual channels through which your team conducts their sales outreach. Shorter meetings, emails, and phone calls will all be beneficial as you look to walk the line between offering a solution of relevance and becoming that annoying bug your prospects just want to ignore.
3. Focus on Relevance over Quantity
Speaking of audience needs: every business professional knows how annoying marketing automation workflows can get when they keep bombarding your inbox. With time, they become little more than noise in a crowded email environment, making any effort to pitch a product more difficult rather than meeting the original goal of paving the way for that pitch.
Yes, conventional wisdom dictates that the average prospect needs about eight touchpoints before the sale. But much more important than that number (which other studies have since questioned, to begin with) is the ability to make sure that every touchpoint with your prospects is inherently relevant.
That might mean developing your sales reps’ skills with a specific focus on learning how to effectively address customer needs and developing more custom messaging campaigns focused around those needs. It certainly means cutting out any automated follow-ups that don’t add value to the sales prospecting process. Relevance and value have to be the north star of any type of prospect engagement.
4. Build More Engaging Virtual Buyer Journeys
The global shift toward remote work means one thing above all: your audience is paying less attention to any one specific task at a given time. Especially during video meetings, multitasking has become the norm for busy professionals looking to get more work done. That might be a helpful habit to cut down on a to-do list. But for sales reps looking to get their pitch across, facing a distracted audience can become frustrating at best.
To avoid that issue, meetings don’t just have to be shorter and more relevant. They also need to be accompanied by more engaging presentations that keep your audience’s attention, demonstrate knowledge, and build rapport.
In part, that might mean adding some video and visual dazzle to individual presentation decks. It may mean building a digital sales room (DSR). But just as important is an engaging, well-trained salesforce that confidently speaks to the product’s benefits as it relates to each customer, listens to and addresses concerns, and meets the customer or prospect where they are, making it less likely that customer will get distracted elsewhere.
5. Demonstrate and Leverage Effective Listening
Communication always and necessarily has to be a two-way engagement. It’s not enough to run through even the most dazzling presentation deck to effectively sell a product. Practicing empathy—and listening to your customers’ needs or concerns—becomes just as important in building a long-term relationship that ultimately results in a sale.
Again, this fundamental communication skill can be more difficult to achieve in remote sales environments. Distractions can become just as much of an issue for sales reps as they are for prospects. Empathy, meanwhile, is more difficult in remote situations where you don’t see your counterpart’s face or nonverbal communication.
But difficult doesn’t mean impossible. With today’s AI-built technology, you can train each member of your team to practice active listening skills and empathy while engaging with prospects virtually, beginning at whatever level each sales rep needs. They’ll be able to get a better read on their prospects, understand needs, and create messaging that’s more likely to find common ground on the way to the sale.
6. Navigate Through Objections or Disinterest
In an ideal world, all sales engagements go smoothly. An initial engagement leads to interest, leading in turn to a sales call that ultimately closes the deal.
But every sales team lead knows that reality is never that smooth. Plenty of bumps along the way, including objections from customers on the value of the product or simple disinterest, can make it difficult to close even the most highly-scored potential leads.
Part of that effort comes from simple experience. A sales rep who has gone through multiple iterations of similar objections will be more likely to know how to respond should it come up again in the future. Similarly, a sales rep familiar with initial disinterest on the side of the prospect can pick up tactics designed to switch gears and try other methods to build interest.
At the same time, this is also an exercise in knowing when to cut bait with a prospect unlikely to convert. That can be more difficult to achieve in remote selling, where the interaction is not always face-to-face, but still essential. Sales professionals who know the triggers for when their time is better spent on other leads may not close every prospect, but they ultimately become more effective in finding, qualifying, and converting their leads.
7. Leverage Technology to Train Your Sales Teams Remotely
Finally, training can become a more challenging proposition in a remote environment. Learning experiences that are both engaging and immersive can be difficult to build when individual team members, managers, and trainers are not consistently together.
But once again, technology can become a crucial benefit. Whether in person or remote, today’s advanced, tech-powered platforms can save sales team managers time while walking each sales rep through customized, realistic training exercises. Through simulations, sales leads can bring their teams through immersive exercises designed to prepare them for real customer conversations.
Training, of course, is more than just an occasional nuisance. To be effective, it has to be a strategic undertaking, complete with regular and consistent exercises that can hit all of the points discussed throughout this guide. The end result is to get every sales rep stronger in the areas they need the most in order to improve their remote selling capabilities.
Build a Strategy to Improve Your Virtual Selling Efforts
When treated exactly like in-person sales, virtual selling can become a frustrating undertaking. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right strategic approach, your team can leverage all the benefits of remote work while still ensuring a successful, effective sales process. Keeping your communication clear and succinct is key. So is focusing on relevance over quantity, listening actively and with empathy, and building more effective remote presentations. No sales rep or even sales leader is inherently proficient in all of these areas. With the right training, you can help each rep get stronger where they need it most. Learn how the Quantified AI Simulator can help you get there, thanks to customized, data-driven, immersive and interactive role-play exercises that improve your team’s ability to interact with prospects and win more remote sales.