7 Tried-and-True Best Practices for Virtual Selling (in 2022 and Beyond)
A whopping 92% of B2B buyers prefer virtual sales interactions, research from Bain and Company shows. Plus, most sellers (79%) now agree virtual selling is effective. It is faster, is cost-effective, and allows reps to interact with more prospects.
To succeed at virtual selling, however, sales reps must do more than simply conduct Zoom meetings. They need to take a holistic approach, looking at the entire buying process and applying virtual components to each step.
As the authors of Mastering Virtual Selling point out, sellers must excel at performing new skills to successfully orchestrate sales success in a virtual world.
Mastering virtual selling involves learning a set of tactics, processes, and technology solutions that equip sellers to successfully nurture prospects, share information, conduct demos, and host meetings without the benefit of being face to face.
Think of sales activities as happening either “frontstage” or “backstage.”
- Frontstage Activities: Synchronous communication and collaboration where you and the participants interact live through a virtual meeting, a phone call, Facetime, or in person.
- Backstage Activities: Any communication or collaboration that is asynchronous or not happening live or in real time. Examples of this include a text message, email, video, voice mail, or a digital sales room.
A critical aspect of this is differentiating yourself from the many other sellers trying to capture buyers’ attention and earn their business. Winners will be those who can create the feeling of an in-person connection while they’re working remotely.
Here are seven best practices proven to help sellers create an exceptional virtual buying experience.
7 Virtual Selling Best Practices
1. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
B2B buyers want Amazon-like experiences: virtual, fast, accurate, transparent, and personalized. Business buyers are also impatient, and they will leave if their needs aren’t met. To help companies fulfill those expectations, sellers must provide a hyper-personalized experience during every touchpoint.
It all begins with personalized prospecting emails. And the best way to do that is for the sales rep to reference something specific to the buyer related to their industry, role, or challenges. They can also share a piece of content specific to the conversation.
To personalize the email even further, the seller can create a video introducing themselves, discussing the challenge, and elaborating on the piece of content shared. Not only will the seller add depth and engagement to the process, but now the buyer can put a face to a name.
Sellers should take the same personalized approach to cold calls. The most successful cold calls are when the seller presents a valid reason for getting in touch. Within seconds, the rep makes the cold call about the prospect, demonstrates they’ve done their homework, and in most cases, earns the right for more time.
2. Prepare for the Meeting
Sales reps who make virtual selling look easy—and who see the greatest success—are the ones who practice and prepare until their presentation is flawless. Here are four key things top performers do to prepare for a virtual meeting.
Engage with stakeholders before the meeting to surface the buyer’s questions and objections. This can be via email, phone, text message, or a private communications channel such as a digital sales room.
Tap the knowledge of a colleague and learn all they can about what similar buyers look for during a presentation. If meeting with the colleague is not possible, watch best-practice videos created by peers and read related collateral.
Practice and refine the pitch. Sales reps should use a video tool to record their pitch, then have a manager or coach review it.
Get the best tech tools and be an expert in how to use them. Virtual meeting tools anchor frontstage selling. Sellers must be fluent at using these tools to produce a better meeting experience.
3. Share Materials and Track Engagement
Use pre-recorded video and content sharing tools before and after meetings to add depth and engagement, as well as build trust and personal rapport with buyers. For example, instead of sending an email with a PDF attached, reps can send a personalized video explaining the content they’re sharing.
Sending materials in advance of the meeting also allows the buyer to watch and learn at their own pace, and it frees up valuable meeting time so the seller can focus on particular issues and answer the buyer’s questions.
It’s important for sellers to track activity on the videos and other collateral they share with the buyer. How many times did they watch the videos? How often did they open or download the articles? This will help the seller understand the prospect’s level of interest and buying intent.
4. Wow Them with Your Presentation
All the work sellers have done has led to this point: the meeting. Their success depends on whether they can execute these key elements of frontstage selling.
Make every minute count: Virtual meetings should be short and interesting. Sellers also must collaborate with the buyer, not talk at them, and form a connection with them. Reps should also record the call (getting permission first), so they can focus on what is said during the meeting and not take notes.
Build trust and rapport: This is more challenging in a virtual setting, but there are new, creative ways to do it. Some examples: send the buyer food, drinks, and meeting kits; build in getting-to-know-you time; and ask discovery questions.
Make the meeting collaborative: Leverage different forms of multimedia to ensure frontstage activities are interactive and engaging, such as pre-recorded videos that add value to your buyers based on the stage they are in.
Manage time and energy: Have a clear purpose for the meeting and follow a realistic, timed agenda. Some ideas: skip and ofﬂoad content, schedule breaks during long meetings, and use interactive agendas. They should also save a few minutes at the end to discuss next steps.
5. Follow Up to Stay Top of Mind
Using personalized video, reps should recap their conversation, cover any missing points, and keep engagement going. Sellers also want to drip content to stay on the buyer’s radar. When they do, they should include a video explanation of why they chose each specific piece. Doing so will increase open/view rates.
For this content to be effective, reps must think about what their buyer needs next, sales strategist Jill Konrath says. Don’t think about everything they’ll ultimately need to know—or everything you want them to know. That’s too much and will overwhelm them.
Like with pre-meeting content, reps should monitor the buyer’s level of engagement with the content. Are they opening, downloading, or watching what they sent? High engagement = high interest and intent.
6. Nurture and Maintain Buyer Relationships
A seller’s work continues even after a sale is made. They must maintain and nurture the relationship. This involves having regular check-ins in which sellers discuss trends and issues in the industry, as well as sharing relevant articles, research, and other content. If reps send videos that they created, they’ll grow the relationships even further. Plus, videos will help them stand out when other vendors are sending documents and links.
Sales teams should also consider creating private communication channels with their buyers. With digital sales rooms, for example, sellers can put all the product information, analysis, case studies, and other content in one place. Plus, they can record personal video messages to “greet” advisors and maintain the human-to-human connection. It’s a personalized approach, and it makes it easier for buyers to find and keep track of information—no more searching through email inboxes.
Sellers should also monitor whether buyers read or view the content they send. When they know what a buyer likes, they can provide more of it and adjust content that buyers don’t like. The key is to provide value to buyer relationships so deals stay on track and when it comes time for renewal, they have no doubts about staying with the company.
7. Use the Best Virtual Selling Tools
With the right virtual selling tools, sales teams can streamline processes and provide robust, engaging, and personalized experiences. These five types of tools not only help sellers do that, but they also help differentiate your reps from the many others they compete against.
Video Creation Tools: It’s critical that sellers be able to easily create personalized videos at key moments in the buying process.
Content Sharing Technology: Sellers must be able to send relevant and trackable video, articles, and other related content to buyers.
Virtual Meeting Software: Sellers need easy-to-use software that allows for interactive virtual meetings. The top five platforms are Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and GoToMeeting.
Call Recording and Note Taking Tools: By recording calls and having notes automated generated, sellers can focus on the buyer and the conversation.
Digital Sales Rooms: Digital sales rooms allow sellers to provide a personalized buying experience. They are centralized private spaces where buyers can quickly and conveniently access all the relevant materials pertaining to a prospective buy.
Training a Winning Sales Team
It’s a new world of selling. Winning companies will prepare their sales teams to become masters at virtual sales, starting with the first contact all the way through to customer retention and renewal.
By personalizing every step of the buying process, collaborating with buyers, sharing content targeted to their conversations, conducting engaging virtual meetings, and nurturing and growing the relationship, sellers will deliver an exceptional virtual selling experience.
A comprehensive sales enablement platform helps sales teams accomplish all of that, ensuring sellers have the skills, knowledge, and content they need to optimize team success in a virtual world.
Download The Essential Guide to Virtual Selling to learn how to master virtual selling and stay ahead of your competition.