A massive shift towards virtual communications has created unique challenges for sales teams worldwide. As a result, novel approaches to B2C relationships have become necessary, and not every company has fully adapted to new communication channels and habits. According to research by The National Center for the Middle Market, nearly 70% of middle market executives considered maintaining customer relationships to be the most challenging aspect of running their business in December 2020, far exceeding their other main concerns.
While maintaining good relationships with current and prospective customers can be difficult through more virtual means, it can work to your advantage – if you know how to leverage the most advanced video consultation tools. We'll cover some of the most effective virtual sales techniques to help your sales team quickly gain the skills they need to stay interpersonally sharp in telecommunication environments.
Making the Most of the Least
Companies at any scale have proven that they can use almost any online communication method to humanize interactions. Even better, doing so has broken geographic boundaries, increasing the pool of potential future customers for companies that leverage appropriate new communications technologies at formative moments.
For small-to-mid-sized companies, in particular, salespeople often feel pressured into a dichotomy of communicating in a highly personal manner or speaking in a highly general tone with mass communication in mind. Yet this misses the crucial middle area where customers need general knowledge but are highly sensitive to communication cues that seem contrived or impersonal.
Many companies languished when the ability to meet with their clients and socialize was removed, filling their time with mass communication strategies such as email campaigns or running through their phone lists. Even though they knew such methods had low response rates, they didn't know what else to do. For industries with more high-stakes sales, doing so seemed particularly futile when clients were accustomed to meeting at high-end restaurants and cocktail lounges.
The key for those who succeeded despite the simultaneous economic and social obstacles was looking through these limitations to find novel and creative ideas to show a genuine desire to connect. The bar for doing so was much lower during 2020. Then, all some people needed to feel some much-needed interpersonal connection was to see their sales reps go even a little out of their way to introduce some levity into the interaction.
Stories abound of sales reps sending personalized gifts to their clients and calling them upon delivery or visiting with clients on video chat to simply check in, socialize, and even play a game. Others sent cocktail kits to open and enjoy during chat sessions or "virtual happy hours." These and other charming examples show how staying friendly with your clients, particularly when traditional options are limited, can create memorable and meaningful interactions that strengthen the customer-brand relationship
Whether in-person or virtual, genuine human connection remains the most significant factor in effective sales, no matter the industry. Just as mid-sized businesses have continually developed their share of their market niche by operating in the happy medium between too-big-to-care and too-small-to-deliver, that same philosophy can work wonders in their communications strategies.
Reps who spend more time going the distance to offer value to their prospects and customers have the edge over those whose approach has a more rigid and bureaucratic feel, which gives mid-sized companies an edge over their giant competitors. The latter attracts customers more easily due to their ability to leverage more significant resources – but customers also feel they have little say in the relationship. On the other hand, mid-sized businesses can be more agile and try new techniques without as much fear of rebuttal.
Applying Technology – Not Working Around It
Rather than see forced shifts in communication mediums as an obstacle to be overcome, the midsized companies best prepared to capitalize on them were those who had already been using technology-mediated tools to reach prospects faster and more efficiently. Just as tools such as customer relationship management platforms made previously unheard-of analytics and automated sales notification methods easily accessible, the same trend is happening now with digital communications strategies.
Companies are now leveraging the proliferation of integrated phone software not just because it cuts costs but because it can be integrated into a host of other software systems. As virtual communication mediums also follow these trends, businesses are discovering they can leverage their feature-rich software-based communications platforms in myriad ways.
Broad though this topic can be, the advantages of software-based communications can be distilled into one overarching advantage for businesses today: a radical boost in the cohesiveness of their customer-facing communications.
Far beyond advances in phone technology, these advantages ring all the more true for video chat – especially as it replaces more common means of connecting. B2B companies used the increase in video chat to build rapport with clients who otherwise were too busy to connect. When the commonly used communication channels shifted, all of a sudden, it was easier to connect with people.
One reason is that video conferencing allows people to plan their daily meetings in minutes, not hours. It even encourages busy professionals to connect on the spur of the moment if the opportunity is right. A carefully honed "elevator pitch" has evolved into something new and far more broad – now, the game-changing opportunities sales reps look forward to the most can occur any time and place they have access to the internet.
Choice over the length of meetings also helps, as it's no longer a significant investment of time to meet with someone. Before, even the quickest get-together with a prospective client required considerable planning and transportation logistics. Even the most straightforward meetings were likely to take at least 30 minutes away from other valuable options. Now, a meeting can be as quick as it needs to be, enabling even the most traditionally unreachable clientele to field more offers than they would have before.
Sales reps are finding their way into the calendars of even incredibly busy CEOs and other corporate VIPs by requesting shorter, more concise meetings. That’s thanks to the same technology that, from a limited perspective, seemed to be "in the way" of business just a few short years ago.
Live Video Chat Environments Boost Sales
According to Salesforce research, 80% of customers believe the buying experience is as relevant as the product or service they buy. It's an astonishing figure and speaks volumes of the increasing importance of the brand-customer relationship.
So how does video chat, in particular, contribute to modern sales trends?
When customers need to perform various actions – especially over longer periods – they are not focused on your brand message. As even the door-to-door salespeople of yesteryear knew, the answer to greater conversions is two-way communication. As phone support has endured as the most preferred communication method for customers (compared to email, chat, and text), video chat takes the same advantage of live communications one step further.
By keeping your customer comfortable and in their element, rather than veritably "assigning" tasks to them, you give them a much more influential role in the buying experience: that of the main subject of focus. They don't need to research or otherwise fuss with the technology between them and their product. Of course, they are free to do so at their leisure, but it is no longer a requirement in the buyer's journey. Instead, they can stand comfortably by and devote their full attention to the sales message, experiencing a greater connection with the sales rep.
Conversational selling has essentially taken a giant leap forward. It reduces the digital touch points the customer must contend with, and it helps the sales team to see more clearly which customers are most ready to buy. Even prospective customers who are still at the beginning stages can more quickly learn about the product, no longer dependent on conflicting or hearsay data they might find when left on their own.
All told, integrated video-chat provider SnapCall determined that, in 2022, video chat conversion (20%) ranks far higher than regular chat (3%) and almost as high as offline conversions in most cases (25–35%). They also discovered that live chat dominates the other options regarding customer satisfaction. At 82%, it far exceeds satisfaction levels for emails, the second most-preferred way, which only generates 61% satisfaction.
When considering sales strategy, speed is a crucial consideration. With video chat, customers don't need to wait in a lengthy phone queue, and it is typically run on appointments for customers. Over time, video call systems may develop to create the same frustrating phone trees that have overtaken phone call support. As of now, the primary advantage of video chat is expediency.
Suppose your company offers video chat support along these lines. In that case, one method for preserving customer satisfaction is to invest in automatic notifications that alert customers that their request is being escalated for a quicker response after about 30 seconds of waiting. Even if the customer does have to wait a little bit, you at least need to go the distance to provide a contextually personalized signal that you are responsive to their needs.
As for more traditional sales approaches to live chat, the most important thing is to get your sales team as comfortable and confident using the medium as possible. When scheduling sales calls with prospective clients, nothing will boost the conversation better than practicing the vital soft skills that will leverage video communication in full. The key to this is an advanced sales training platform built to provide personalized feedback to your sales reps based on advanced behavioral and linguistic analytics processes.
Practicing and Performing in the Same Environment
Sales reps who extensively train in virtual settings will undoubtedly adapt well to virtual sales meetings. They are used to running their feedback and coaching software while performing, so they will naturally find it easy to reference feedback metrics as they communicate in real time with customers. Along the same lines, they'll be acutely aware of which communication tells are likely to signal key moments to escalate the conversation to secure the sale.
Videoconferencing platforms may be new to some customers, and sales reps fully adept with the nuances of videoconferencing will have a much easier time showing their leads a calm and confident empathy. They were there too, just several short years ago – but now, they are enjoying this "alternative" to their traditionally preferred methods and all the opportunities it brings them and their company. It's now the customer's turn to learn how much more efficient and satisfying video sales calls can be as opposed to the grindingly slow conversations inherent to email and the limited communication signals possible over the phone.
Your sales reps' confidence will show even more if they frequently train under the same circumstances in which they perform. Personal connections ultimately increase your company's brand interest, sales, and revenue, and it's far easier to develop those connections when you can see the other party. As the vast majority of communication information is conveyed through body language, your sales reps must take their communications training to the next level.
Incredible advances in data analytics are now available to mid-market sales teams with even the most modest budgets for sales training. Investing in only the best is essential, and sales training programs have been notoriously ill-suited for the soft skills that almost alone truly drive sales forward. Therefore, your virtual sales strategies will only be as strong as the training platform – and what makes the platform truly effective is how well it leverages leading-edge discoveries in psychology and information science.
The Leading Edge of Virtual Coaching
Authentically connecting and engaging with your audience requires a complex balancing act between a thorough analysis of social cues and the development of a natural ability to strike up a rapport with a wide variety of people. Before algorithm-powered sales training, most coaching programs amounted to making educated guesses based on what worked well in the past – but it's no longer necessary, as the tools exist today to help each sales rep zero in on their specific attributes.
With algorithmically-powered behavioral analyses, virtual sales coaching platforms can illuminate each sales rep's specific qualities, guiding them through fine-tuned adjustments that bring their communication and interpersonal techniques to the next level. This is the key to the sales training methods of the future, which are now able to analyze the endlessly unique factors driving sales rep behavior and audience reactions.
Determining the most effective sales strategies now goes far beyond giving general prescriptive advice for entire teams or even learning from specific experts in uni-directional learning formats. Instead, sales reps can delve into their own communications qualities and habits. Advanced analytics and behavior analyses can detect their unique characteristics with astonishing accuracy.
Such systems can now detect numerous qualities that drive communication. These qualities include (but are not limited to):
- Eye contact
- Facial expressions
- Rate of speech
The same platform can then give insightful feedback based on how audiences are likely to respond – or how one's training partner responds to the sales trainee's efforts. Then, the trainee can be given a custom training protocol designed around their specific weaknesses, which they can continually practice and receive more feedback.
As their training cycle progresses, they feed the system with increasing amounts of data, improving the skills assessments' accuracy. Reps can determine, this way, the most effective sales techniques on a case-by-case basis, and that advice will be relevant to each individual. Gone are the days of generic sales training and generic advice.
Scale the most successful techniques up to team-wide strategies as the automated training platform analyzes your top performers' successful meetings. You'll obtain the key performance metrics that make the most significant difference in your industry and exert more control over which actual talents and techniques prove most effective for you.
Then, each sales rep can test their similar talents and receive highly customized reports showing them either how to adopt the same techniques themselves or which other natural strengths of their own might be able to substitute, given their uniquely valuable character traits. For any sales rep, a virtual sales training platform can help quantify why specific sales reps perform better than others and under what circumstances any given method works best.
This is possible as crucial soft skills have undergone more rigorous analysis by psychology-trained data scientists. Organizations leveraging advanced, video-conferencing-based soft skills training will have an enormous advantage over competitors still focused almost exclusively on sales processes and content.
Such platforms can now effectively utilize massive amounts of visual, tone, and linguistic behaviors that can be identified and analyzed with near-immediate automation. They can then apply that data to predictive analytics.
The Future of Sales Training
Generalized guidance is no longer necessary or even advisable – and companies that begin using advanced virtual sales training platforms now will likely be seen as innovators. Employees will experience a radical boost in their abilities and sales rates, giving them strong motivation to continue practicing hard. Their interpersonal talents will surely grow in other aspects of their life, boosting employee satisfaction and loyalty.
Quantified is leading the sales industry by delivering the most advanced virtual sales training program the world has seen. If you're interested in how analytics-powered video sales training can take your sales to the next level, request a demo today – and see firsthand how advanced communications training has become.
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