Virtual Selling (and Buying) Are Here to StayArticle by Colleen Francis, July 12, 2021
It’s a fact. Gartner’s recent market research confirms that virtual selling (and buying) are entrenched in how people want to do business now.
A whopping 64% of customer respondents say that, since the start of the pandemic, they’re more willing to interact with suppliers via digital channels without human support. And 40% of respondents say they prefer MOST or all of their post-pandemic interactions to stay totally virtual.
Recognize what this means. While the shift to virtual happened in a hurry in 2020, time has passed. This is no longer a temporary change. It’s permanent. And that has important implications for everyone in sales now. As that same Gartner study points out, a full third of buyers now (33%) say they want a completely seller-free buying experience!
That’s why so many—buyers and sellers alike—are doubling-down now on virtual selling (and buying, too). They’re no longer doing this because they have to. They’re choosing it because they want to. Everyone recognizes just how much time they got back by not having to constantly travel to meetings. Buyers are now in the habit of not having to deal face-to-face with sellers. And sellers are gaining newfound appreciation for what they can do with those extra hours in every business day—meeting more people online and closing more business in less time.
Yes, virtual is the new default in sales now. Accept this and adapt. Here are five key strategies to make that happen.
1. Embrace the Ability to Shift Back and Forth Effortlessly
You must ensure your virtual skills are as good as your in-person skills. Some of my clients are finding that smaller, local companies might still be open to face-to-face transactions with select, trusted sellers. However, larger companies won’t even let you in the door. You can’t just pick a side here. I don’t know of anyone who is doing either all-virtual or zero-virtual selling now. Everyone is adapting to do both. That means being just as skilled at setting up a video call as with building a convincing value calculation, handling objections, or creating a compelling presentation.
2. Ask Your Customer What They Prefer
You don’t set the terms on whether or not you use virtual selling with your customer. They do. Get comfortable with that idea. It shows empathy, caring, and dedication to the wellness of your customer when you communicate that you’re flexible to their needs and comfort level. That’s a behaviour they’ll remember.
3. Get the Right Equipment
There’s no excuse for having a lousy looking virtual selling setup, echoing or sitting in the dark. You must master all the major platforms and have an account with each one that’s ready to connect—whether it’s Zoom, GoToMeeting, Teams, or others. Just as important, you must have a good quality video light, a decent microphone, and a reliable space for making video calls. Consider setting up a virtual office space that you and others can use in a pinch and that offers a consistent plug-and-play experience.
4. Practice Often
This is really important. The more you practice being on video calls, the more your confidence will grow. That’s not just because your investment in the right equipment will have you looking great for the camera. Regular practice also means you’ll know what to do next when the inevitable technical glitch is encountered.
5. Be Consistent
Your customers are enjoying the shift to virtual selling, but they’re also counting on you to deliver the same great selling experience that you did back in the days of face-to-face meetings. This shift needs to be seamless. The great virtual experience you now offer to your clients cannot just be limited to sales. Every part of your organization—marketing, customer support, accounting, delivery—has to be just as capable of delivering this experience consistently and skillfully.
Get comfortable with this new digital default to selling (and buying). Yes, virtual sure did feel awkward when we were first using it out of necessity. But times have changed. And they changed incredibly quickly. It’s up to you to fully recognize this major shift in the market and embrace this opportunity for new growth and accelerated sales.