The coronavirus pandemic won’t go on forever – but it has left a lasting impact on the market.
Brands have had months of marketing and business planning wiped out in a matter of mere weeks. Concepts that would have taken some time to mature better – such as virtual selling and telemarketing – are now being pushed to the stage of adoption faster than we could have predicted.
Making such a swift change could be telling on businesses.
Looking through the various consumer trend and data emerging at the height of this pandemic, though, the sellers are not the only ones to be concerned about the state of virtual selling and telemarketing. The buyers and decision-makers do not find the current efforts in this niche as appealing as should be.
Already, savvy marketers know that selling to executive buyers and other brands is usually more challenging. Furthermore, most of these sales are closed in person. Combining all of the pain points we have discussed earlier, now is the time to dive into the visual selling sphere and come out with something that works.
Market Trends Favoring Virtual Selling/ Telemarketing
That we are discussing ‘selling over a non-physical conversation’ has nothing to do with flattening the curve. If not for the current pandemic, it should be business as usual for those brands that have already sold this way. This shows that such selling methods have long been in practice – and have been steadily growing over time too.
However, here we are now, and we have to deal with the current situation at hand too.
A good example to look at here is that of e-commerce sellers.
The online store industry has been growing rapidly for some time, but the year 2020 saw gains that mimicked that of decades. As more people started staying home, they felt the need to make their purchases online rather than going out and risk getting infected.
At that time, the online sales model has also been propped up so much that it meets the needs of these consumers.
When the pandemic does end, we won’t see a slump in online shoppers to what it was before the pandemic. With the growth rate of the platforms designed to keep people online, loyalty will make things harder for brick and mortar stores.
To buttress this point is Microsoft which has already closed down ALL of its physical stores to focus on digital sales instead.
But we are not here to discuss eCommerce.
What we want to draw from that, though, is how virtual selling can become the new normal.
A recent study of trade show marketers provided some interesting insights.
These are sellers who have built a lot of their processes around meeting their prospects physically and pitching them where needed. This remains one of the most preferred ways of reaching B2B buyers and decision-makers anyway.
Now that they won’t be able to host such gatherings for a while, almost half of these marketers (46%) are taking back their trade show budgets and keeping it. Others are investing in more content creation; digital ad spends and virtual selling.
We do not need to tell you that those who have chosen to do nothing with their marketing spends would not be able to compete with the growth of their rivals by the time things get back to normal.
Tracking art sales in the US is also a nice benchmark here.
At the introduction of stringent coronavirus measures in March 2020, art sales by almost 76% year-on-year. This represents a massive drop of more than US$700 million in revenues for art houses. When the auctions were moved online, though, it allowed new players to get into the art-buying market – and also raised revenues a little.
With virtual selling and telemarketing to support this online model, it is expected that art auction houses should brace for a bigger profit model when the economies start picking up again. After all, this now allows them to publish brochures online, host sales for people in different parts of the world, and never have location be an inhibiting factor.
It is already challenging to hold the attention of buyers in face-to-face situations. That said, it will be even more challenging to engage these buyers over the web/ telephone.
With strategic planning, though, that does not have to be.
When reaching out to clients via virtual selling tools, here are some things to keep in mind.
1 Lead with Value
Brief: Instantly sell the problem to sell the solution.
Dive straight into the pain points that you are there to address.
Forget all you have learned about playing around the main offering to draw the consumers in even more.
Sales should never treat their virtual calls like some sort of funnel because it is not. You do not have the time to play top, middle, and bottom of the funnel here. Otherwise, you will get booted off more calls than you care to report.
From dealing with diverse companies in the same niche, you should already know what problems they could be facing right now. Better than that, your product-market fit research should also have identified what problems the companies could face in the future. Pitch this as soon as the pleasantries are out of the way.
2 Drive Engagement
Brief: Use the ‘Ben Franklin effect’ for better conversions
Virtual sellers are often too concerned that asking their potential clients to do anything might chase them away. That is about as ironic as it gets.
The Ben Franklin effect posits how a person is more likely to do you another favor once they have done you a smaller favor earlier. Note that this does not mention you doing the favors, but getting them. That could explain why you would expect a lead magnet to make people reveal their contact details – and make a purchase later on.
Interestingly, we are not leveraging the Ben Franklin effect for only sales. You are also interested in keeping the consumer engaged.
During the video call, propose something like:
Once that is in, it is much easier for you to propose that they check out your weblink for more information at the end of the call. Since they have made a mental commitment, it is also much easier possible for them to follow through on the call to action.
3 Show the Possibility
Brief: Why does your solution work?
In this piece, we have mentioned how B2B buyers are better closed in face-to-face meetings than online models.
This can be chalked down to mere preference on the part of B2B sellers but that would be wrong. It is, instead, a fault of the sellers not having the right skills to stay on-point and convincing.
A recent RAIN Group report showed that 68% of sellers want to see the possibility of what they are buying being able to solve their problems. Sadly, only 34% of sellers are skilled enough to meet such a need.
The same report underlines that another 66% of buyers want to see a clear case of how their purchasing decision will drive a return on investment. Yet again, only about 16% of marketers can make that happen.
This tells us that marketers have a lot of work to do. Else, they will keep leaving serious money on the table from the scores of sales that they are not closing yet.
4 Stay Professional
Brief: Dress the way you want to be addressed
When meeting people offline, salespeople are always prepared to be in their best behavior. This is not only in how they dress up to meet their prospects, but how they relate to the prospects too.
Studies have shown that only about 7% of conversations are verbal. Whether you are having that conversation on the phone or in person, the non-verbal cues play a very important role.
Thus, approach every call with the mindset that you are speaking to the buyer in person. Never leave anything to chance and do not go casual without there being a need for it. Salespeople should be trained to stay in character and maintain their professionalism all through the sales process.
Common Shortfalls of Virtual Selling and Telemarketing
Knowing what to do is just as important as knowing what not to do.
Following a study of more than 500 respondents – including sellers and buyers – the mistakes to avoid when selling over a call is best summarized as follows:
Mistake #1 – Distractions
A whopping 77% of buyers noticed that the person on the other end of the call was distracted by one thing or the other during the call. This could be notifications, other people, or some external disturbance, but that does not justify the fact.
Sellers will try their best to focus on one buyer at a time when meeting physically. At that time, they will want the buyer to feel like they are the only important thing in the room – which is a good emotional impression to make.
The question then remains why the same effort is not translated into the sales call model.
Mistake #2 – Poor Visuals
Visual elements sell stories better than just verbal concepts.
It is much advisable to show people charts that tell how your solution could save them 28% of costs, for example, than just saying it. This is the basis on which infographics and video content marketing have grown in recent years.
It is, thus, disconcerting that 86% of buyers complain that sellers are not selling with enough visuals. For those who bring visuals to the table, those visuals are poor.
Sales teams need to work with marketing for the right visuals that work on different customer demographics.
While the salespeople can go this mile on their own, marketing is best equipped to come up with such content. An integration of both departments to make this work would, thus, not be out of place.
Mistake #3 – Technology
We understand that some sellers are having to make the switch to virtual selling and telemarketing faster than normal. The time available for training is short, but that does not excuse a below-par knowledge of the technology to be used either.
Almost 90% of buyers are angered by this alone.
Virtual selling allows sellers to do a series of tasks from writing/ doodling/ drawing on their screens to even sharing these screens.
Since the start of the pandemic, service providers like Zoom and Facebook have fitted their programs with more tools to allow for better collaboration and sharing over virtual calls. Every salesperson should be versed in how they can use each one of these tools to better their times online.
Should there be any part of the technology posing problems, it is better not introduced to the selling process until the sales team can get a hang of it.
Mistake #4 – Preparation
Lack of preparation is not only a problem with selling over calls. We believe sellers that exhibit such have a problem with proper preparation in offline selling also.
That 83% of buyers feel those sellers they meet over calls are not properly prepared – and 80% of them lack presentation skills – shows a serious deficit that needs to be breached.
Every team should not only be trained in people skills, communication skills, and other soft skills. They should also be drilled on the product that they are selling. It is much easier to sell something you understand than a product you are just expected to close a client on.
Call us Today
Let us help you close more clients over the phone now that meeting them physically might not be feasible. Even after the coronavirus measures disappear along with the pandemic, you will have had an important skill within your ranks that allows you to close more sales in the long run.
Schedule a call with us today to get a feel for our process. We will always have someone waiting for you on the other end of the phone.
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