According to Gartner, 80% of B2B sales are expected to take place virtually by 2025. Don’t believe me?! Check out their projections here.
Very few sellers I know will be applauding this news. Here’s why: we are only one year into the pandemic and virtual sales calls and meetings have only just begun to feel slightly less awkward and less ineffective as at the start, for both buyers and sellers alike. In fact, 70% of the salespeople surveyed by Corporate Visions said that selling virtually is not as effective as selling in person.
Here are just a few of the many challenges I hear (and see) salespeople still struggling with today:
- Making consistent eye contact with a customer
- Reading, understanding, and responding to “video” body language
- Talking to customers who aren’t on video
- Engaging passive virtual audiences
- Connecting with multiple people on a video call
What’s more, many companies are now calling on their salespeople to record video messages to send to prospects or customers. This adds a whole new level of increased pressure and awkwardness as sellers try to navigate a skill for which even professional actors require training.
With a future that likely includes a hybrid of virtual and live selling with an increase in usage of video throughout the sales cycle, many sellers have resigned themselves to a bleak future of uncomfortable, unfulfilling, and frankly unsuccessful virtual sales interactions.
Is this as good as it gets?! Hint: it’s not.
Envision a virtual sales call where both you and your customer feel as if you are sitting across from one another having a cup of coffee. Your eye contact is natural and sufficient enough to make your customer feel both seen and heard. You are able to pick up cues from your buyer, accurately interpret them, and adjust or respond accordingly. Your customer is engaged, and your relationship progresses with each interaction.
I know, I know! Completely unthinkable, right? However, I promise you that it is entirely possible to create this in-person-like experience in a virtual environment. You only have to look to your screens for the actors, the presenters, and the reporters who have learned to create that intimacy with their audience despite being separated by technology.
Stop Looking for the Answer in Technology!
For the past year, companies have been trying to stuff technology and tools into a skills-shaped hole. Hundreds of virtual tools, all promising to make your video sales call or recording as effortless and effective as sitting down with a buyer in person, have been thrown at salespeople. Based on sellers’ bleak outlook for the future, this strategy has been less than successful.
Other than having new tools and turning on a camera, most salespeople are selling just the way they did in person. However, the moment the camera is turned on, they have entered into a whole new medium – a medium they need to embrace and adapt to if they want to succeed in a virtual or hybrid selling environment.
A New Medium Requires New Skills
This new medium has enough similarities to the old medium that many salespeople are making the common assumption that the skills needed are exactly the same. So instead of learning the critical skills that immediately impact their ability to communicate and connect with customers in this new medium, sellers are merely learning tools for tracking, measuring, socializing, or displaying content just a little bit better. It’s as if instead of learning the actual skills necessary to ride a bicycle, you kept adding new gadgets, like a laser light, a speedometer, or a state-of-the-art helmet. All of which is nice, though none hide the fact that you don’t know how to ride a bike.
Actors, anchors, reporters, and great presenters take specialized training to learn how to connect with an audience through a screen and communicate effectively in this new environment. Salespeople who skip the foundational skills and keep looking for their next shiny gadget to create that connection for them will be left behind in this hybrid future.
The Next Level of Virtual Selling
The next level of virtual selling is about fostering an in-person experience with customers, and it requires a shift in mindset and skillset – well beyond turning on your camera and making sure you have good lighting.
I do welcome cool, updated technology and other tools to enhance the virtual selling experience, but I caution sales organizations and sellers on getting sidetracked by every new gadget that pops into your inbox! To really prepare for a better virtual future, a future that involves greater connections with customers and success for both parties, sellers must first learn how to pedal.
Learn the Skills that will take you to the Next Level in Virtual Sales:
In the Selling On Video Master Class you’ll learn the unique skill set how to:
- Make soft, personal eye contact that makes your customer feel heard and seen.
- Understand when and how to look at the camera in a natural way.
- Read customer body language without breaking your connection.
- Understand what that unique video language your customer is using means – and when to react.
- Improve the response rate to your questions and increase interaction.
- Create more actively engaged customers.
- Leverage your body language to reinforce what you’re saying, not distract from it.
- And much more!
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