While many aspects of work changed for individual employees in 2020, perhaps no group was more affected by change than the sales team. The model for sales for all of history involved face-to-face conversations. Sales professionals did not work from home as a rule, and the conversations in business-to-business context did not take place in the customer’s home. Sales involved travel, presentations, and demonstrations.
With the changes in setting and workflows, the skills that sales require also changed, and even with the “re-opening” of businesses, virtual selling is not going to go away. If anything, knowing how to prospect, make a connection, solve a problem, and close a sale in a video conference is going to be the characteristic that you will want to develop in your sales team. Here are the topics that need to be high on your list for sales training in 2020.
Virtual selling skills and workflows
Virtual selling works and it is here to stay. Your sales team needs to know how to make virtual selling and face to face selling work together. At the same time, teach your sales team how to use videoconferencing effectively in your workflow. Some workflow elements will be different in virtual selling, such as setting up the meeting so that everyone has a clear picture of the plan. This should probably be your top priority in 2021, considering how much time will be spent in virtual meetings. The best way to accomplish this training is in the flow of work itself. Because it is so important to get new hires productive, be sure you pay particular attention to their development.
Skills for using video conferencing software
Specific video conferencing features and techniques can greatly enhance your communication. That applies not only to settings where customers and prospects will be present but also for meetings with remotely sited employees, for sales training and coaching, for problem-solving meetings, and for sharing lessons learned. Be sure your entire sales team understands any new workflows for their roles. Digital demos can be more effective than face-to-face interactions due to their immersive characteristics. Use screen sharing technology rather than screen shots or PowerPoint decks. All of this assumes that employees know how to use the features while online.
Maintaining a professional appearance is often overlooked in setting up virtual calls. That includes using the hardware that will best support presentations, especially microphones and reliable internet connections. Lighting is important. Make sure the office or other space where your presentation will be delivered is free of visual distractions and that the staff there are dressed and groomed appropriately. Cameras magnify defects and oversights that you would wish were not visible.
Coach your sales team in the use of social media
Customers talk to each other—with social media you can be the proverbial fly on the wall. Social media is where your customers are, so use social media to network and establish relationships. However, social media is not a place to randomly pitch to everyone.
Teach your sales team to use your CRM
Customer relationship management platforms (CRM) do more than help you visualize your sales pipeline, log sales activity, and store contact data. A CRM selected to support your business process and workflow will drive and increase sales by streamlining customer contact and by providing reports that highlight problem areas. That only happens if the sales team knows how to use the CRM.