Here's how to grow and nurture sales relationships in a virtual environement.
In 2020, businesses entered into a new reality. The virtual company is now a norm that customers of all ages and locations embrace. COVID-19 caused one of the most massive business shifts of the last 100 years, and business leaders who seek to maximize this change will learn how to move into a more virtual environment in all aspects of their business.
Virtual selling: How to do it well
One of the most critical aspects of embracing the virtual business reality is mastering how to sell in the virtual environment. Most successful selling happens "belly to belly," which means in person. A good salesperson pays attention to body language and verbal cues from the prospect, which they then respond to powerfully and effectively. However, companies have to think through how to guide a potential customer through the virtual sales process in the virtual selling world.
Although not all businesses can move their products across the world, every business should consider how to move their selling into a more virtual environment.
The playbook on virtual selling has yet to be written, however, there are several steps that both companies and professional sales leaders can take to grow relationships during a virtual environment more effectively.
Build an online brand for your company and products
Customers today make decisions about an organization based on first impressions, which they form using the company's social media presence. Today's consumers are more informed about purchasing options and decisions. Companies must become more aware of how their potential buyers access their products and information.
In the virtual world, marketing has changed from what a company tells the consumer about its products or services to what the consumer can find out about the products or services they are looking to purchase.
To help your company establish a strong online brand, implement these three ideas:
- Highlight the testimonies of current or past customers.
- Fill your website with the answers to questions that potential questions new customers will ask about your products and services.
- Develop a Google Search strategy so that you have multiple sites that point to essential information about your company or your products.
Develop smart marketing messages that catch customers' attention
In a cluttered web world, it is difficult for companies to attract new customers. A 2018 study that researched 2 million websites found that "91% of all pages never get any organic traffic from Google, mostly due to the fact they don’t have backlinks." Backlinks are connections to other articles or references on the web that show a level of credibility and trust in the information being communicated.
The days of a great URL or SEO that would drive people to a companies website are in the past. Companies that wish to embrace virtual selling must focus on smart marketing messages backed up by thoughtful and thorough content.
Today's consumers are more focused on marketing messages and more in-depth content. Longer content also helps in others quoting and backlinking to that content. According to SWEOR, "the average content length of the top position Google article contains 2,416 words."
Many companies don't have the time to develop rich content, but content will rule the web's future. A great place to start is with the key messages that your company is trying to communicate in the web world and then build on those marketing messages over time.
Here are four tips for developing smart marketing messages and brand content ideas:
- Develop 10 key marketing messages that you would like to build your company content around.
- Record videos of key people in your organization sharing their institutional knowledge about products and services and have those videos or audio files converted into articles for your website.
- Evaluate the top questions that customers would ask about your products and services and write content to answer those questions effectively.
- Make a new hire for your company that focuses on company content to help drive your marketing content.
Explore software solutions to enhance customer connection and care
Virtual selling will be enhanced through better software solutions. The company that can embrace the right software solutions will be more equipped to handle more customers more effectively.
HighGear, a visual no-code workflow management solution company, recommends that your company's workflow be seamless, regardless of the product or service you're selling. Software solutions can be applied throughout all processes and people in the business. The business that hopes to gain market share will find innovation software solutions to replace the outdated with the updated.
Three ways your team can explore software solutions to enhance customer connection include:
- Ask your team or your customers what process in the business they would like to see improved.
- Develop a task team to research and review a possible software package to help increase productivity and efficiency.
- Decide to set aside a percentage of profit over a period of time to have a software solution developed specifically for your company.
Develop a sales process to move prospects from virtual reality to real reality
Selling virtually is the place to grow and expand the brand, but virtual leads should ultimately become customers you know in person. Each virtual sales step should be followed up with a relational touch, where the customer can experience a high customer touch level.
One mistake that many companies make in virtual selling is never moving the virtual customer along the customer journey funnel. Companies looking to enhance the virtual customer experience should consider each aspect of the virtual customer interaction and match it to a real-life customer touchpoint. Every social interaction should have a personal reaction to gain the customer's interest and further deepen customer interest.
Here are three tips for moving your prospects from VR to real reality:
- Practice the Golden Rule by thinking about what responses you would like to receive when you virtually interact with a company.
- Develop a series of personal responses to send to customers when they visit your website or your personal profile.
- Describe a personal response for each virtual interaction with the customer.
Close the deal by being effective in your virtual meetings
To sell in the virtual world, a great virtual session must be completed. Business leaders would be wise to analyze the traits of a great virtual selling session. A great virtual session would also include the right equipment to conduct an engaging remote experience. The right tools can enhance and make the virtual meeting more effective than the in-person experience.
One aspect of a successful virtual meeting is for the one conducting the meeting to become comfortable on camera. The more comfortable the one conducting the session is, the more likely the customer will be comfortable, too. Finding the right location, or multiple locations, in your home or office to conduct meetings will also provide the customer with a freshness of experience.
Try these three tips to be more effective in your virtual meetings:
- Provide a variety of tools to make the customer feel comfortable in the virtual session. If the customer is comfortable using Zoom versus Microsoft teams, then use the tool most familiar to the customer.
- Purchase the necessary equipment to conduct productive virtual sessions. Tools such as an HD camera, microphone and extra lighting can help enhance a virtual meeting.
- Practice the philosophy of not closing the session without knowing concrete next steps. Every sales session should lead to the next step in closing the sale or getting to no.
Moving to a virtual selling model can become more comfortable for some companies and certain salespeople. Every company that hopes to seize the shift to a virtual economy will learn how to master the art of virtual selling. Companies that wish to stay the business through market changes, customer shifts, and business pivots will learn how to adapt and change.