remote selling, sales training

Avoid Zoom Fatigue & Close Deals While Working Remotely!

3 MIN READ

Avoid Zoom Fatigue & Close Deals While Working Remotely!

July 27, 2021

Digital and virtual selling will continue to dominate B2B sales for quite some time to come. Since sellers have been selling remotely for a while now, the transition to remote sales has proved more logical for sales than other departments. Conference calls and digital demos have been around for many years. But remote selling isn’t what it used to be!

Selling to virtual buyers has proven challenging for traditional sales reps. While little has changed for the seller, much has changed for the buyer. It is difficult to establish rapport with buyers without being in the same room. It is impossible to hold a prospect’s attention for long via video conferencing.

remote selling, sales training

Technology challenges in remote sales:

 

‘Zoom Fatigue’ – a term that is becoming increasingly popular!

The limitations of Zoom are exhausting, and people have difficulty keeping up when screen-sharing presentations. Between December 2019 and April 2020, video meetings increased by 2900%. Recent studies show that more than 99% of people multitask some or all of the time during online meetings and presentations – Zoom Fatigue Exists!

Zoom calls are not an acceptable alternative to an in-person conversation. It is imperative that the way we think about remote selling changes. A more compelling virtual experience is needed rather than replicating familiar product pitching through screen shares and PowerPoint. 

The use of virtual selling to transfer knowledge

Virtual selling has now emerged as the next step for sales. 

Virtual selling requires a new place, a digital location, where the selling (and the buying) can take place. Through a virtual selling platform, sellers and customers can co-create a vision, a value proposition, and a plan.

The virtual selling platform is a digital meeting workspace that allows customers and vendors to collaborate creatively. As a result, an ordinary remote sales pitch becomes a two-way conversation.

The exchange of knowledge is more effective when it is two-way. By effectively transferring knowledge, you convert prospects to leads and ultimately shorten sales cycles.

According to a recent study by McKinsey, B2B decision-makers treasure three things above all from sellers: speed, transparency, and expertise. What happens between the discovery call and the second meeting or demo is the most critical time in transferring knowledge and converting prospects into customers. The first and second steps of a sales process is when you need to exchange information with speed, transparency, and expertise. If you succeed in this, you’ll close the sale.

A discovery call is a quick and easy way to share expertise.

Discovery calls are crucial moments for grabbing a prospect’s attention. By wasting time moving between apps or sharing your screen, you risk losing your prospect’s attention. Approximately 95% of a sale is driven by the discovery call and success is determined by establishing rapport with the prospect building trust and demonstrating competency. Remote Selling Mastery will not only show  you how to engage with prospects but also encourage conversation.

  • The majority of buyers expect a customized sales conversation.
  • Look organized, well-equipped, and in command in comparison to your competitors.
  • Your ideas will be communicated with all the necessary information displayed on one or two screens. Don’t bore your prospects with a long presentation. 
  • Get your prospect involved right away. Engage them using a virtual whiteboard. – Remote Whiteboarding

In today’s remote selling world, representing the brand and building trust/empathy is more critical than ever. Remote Selling Mastery will transform the way you sell virtually using advanced qualification and visual story techniques to drive larger deals with shorter sales cycles. With some very basic tools and techniques, you can easily add remote whiteboarding to your virtual sales meetings. It’s time to ditch Powerpoint and amaze your prospects!

sales training

How to overcome customer success disengagement!

3 MIN READ

How to overcome customer success disengagement!

By Mark Gibson on July 26, 2021

In May this year, Gartner’s Customer Service and Support team published a paper entitled, Why Service Reps Disengage and What You Can Do About It.

Gartner’s 2021 Customer Service Rep Role and Experience Survey data (n=600 CS reps) shows that only one in three reps are actually engaged; the remaining reps are neutral or disengaged.

  • Gartner is quick to point out that the cause of disengagement is not because reps lack capability.
  • While only one in 3 reps is engaged, disengaged reps feel they are effective in doing their jobs.
  • Gartner’s data indicates that the cause of the disengagement is largely driven by their environment.
    • Contributing factors are lack of role and goal clarity,
    • Contradictory objectives at both rep and organization levels; including time to resolution metrics vs. creating a valued high quality experience, as well as prioritizing profit over people.
    • Navigating competing objectives (upselling and renewing vs quality experience) is frustrating for reps as trade-offs consume energy and lead to a sense of exhaustion.

Disengagement causes negative employee and customer outcomes, including customer churn and employee turnover.

CSM Role and Purpose

The raison d’etre of the Customer Success Manager (CSM) is advocate on behalf of the customer and to ensure that customers achieve success in the use of the chosen technology.  Because of this, CSM’s are more highly trusted by customers than salespeople.  

Whereas salespeople are often perceived as pushy and always looking to make a sale, the CSM is a trusted advisor through understanding the customers business objectives and priorities.

CSM’s are expected to guide the customer through onboarding and ultimately to achieve the promised value so that not only is the licence renewed, but usage is expanded and functionality is fully exploited.  Flywheel economics etc.

Therein lies the rub and the true root cause of disengagement. 

remote training

Proactive vs Reactive Engagement

Having worked as a customer engineer upon entering the computer industry more than four decades ago, I can appreciate the difficult situations that CSM’s encounter every day.  When the system has problems and the customer is unhappy, you bear the brunt of it and pressure from both the customer and your own organization.  As is often the case, customers don’t want to talk to CSM’s when everything is going well.

The greatest stress CSM’s reps experience is when the customer system is down or not working as it should and you are responsible for customer the relationship, but unable to resolve the problem as it is beyond your control.

System problems are inevitable in the software business and a certain aspect of the role will always be managing customer emotions when systems are broken. 

A formal process for proactive engagement of customers and forming customer intimacy is through sharing goals, executing mutually agreed plans and achieving milestones. True commitment is key to becoming trusted advisors.

A Visual Framework and Process to Overcome Disengagement

Enableocity has pioneered the development of visual conversation frameworks and proven their success at companies like Atlassian and Equinix for salespeople, systems engineers, solution consultants and systems architects.

Visual conversation frameworks are a set of visual conversation structures that the customer-facing team can use to engage buyers at each step in the buying process in real-time while in a virtual meeting.

These frameworks help the buyer to communicate more clearly about what is important to them and for the salesperson to listen and visually capture the essence of the conversation on a physical or digital whiteboard or flip-chart.

Recently we have developed Customer Success Conversation Frameworks to help CS pros’ create a more structured approach to Connect, Engage and Execute the customer relationship.

These frameworks help CS professionals to create a great first impression in the initial meeting with customers, to build trust and rapport and establish the value of the CS role and experience.  This is achieved in virtual whiteboard sessions where we share the conversation framework with the customer and work through engagement and planning process together.  Outcomes of these conversations include:

  • Demonstrating a solid understanding of the customers business
  • Knowledge of installed products and their usage
  • Creating shared goals and understanding customer concerns
  • Identifying new unforeseen opportunities
  • Helping the customer with adoption challenges through identifying adoption roadblocks and organizational bottlenecks that prevent success

Once engaged, the visual conversation stucture is advanced to manage onboarding, successful adoption of the products, usage, growth and renewal.

Finally a jointly developed customer success plan establishes the CSM as the quarterback and trusted advisor in the customer relationship.

There will inevitably be product challenges and adoption challenges as we are dealing with software.  However with a relationship firmly established and agreed success plan in place, customer success professionals are more likely to be successful in their roles and engaged with the success and growth of their customers.

Remote Selling: Sell like an expert, not like a sales representative!

2 MIN READ

Remote Selling: Sell like an expert, not like a sales representative!

July 15, 2021

Most organizations successfully transitioned to working from home during the pandemic.

As reported by Global Workplace Analytics, only 3.6% of US workers worked from home in 2018. In 2021, 25%-30% of the workforce is working multiple days from home and this trend is likely to continue.

Due to the spread of COVID-19, remote working became a necessity for sales representatives. 

The big questions are, how much of the selling cycle will be conducted remotely in future and will salespeople who return to the office be more or less productive than they were at home?

 

It didn’t take sales representatives much time to adapt to talking with customers and prospects via Zoom, Teams, and Hangouts last year. 

Fortunately, the platforms were easy to use, and getting up to speed was fairly straightforward. Despite some technical glitches and the occasional embarrassing moments, the majority of sales representatives felt they did just fine.

Now that sales representatives are used to selling remotely, it’s easy to assume that they’ve mastered it. That is not the case however..

Here are some reasons why;

Challenges in Remote Selling.

While the mode of communication shouldn’t matter to the majority of sales representatives, remote selling presents new challenges. 

Sales reps lose visual cues when selling remotely. Having to sell from home has made things much harder for many, especially those women in the workforce with young families. Remote selling outcomes are determined by how customers perceive sales interactions, including their virtual presence and brand mojo, their ability to connect, create rapport and build trust, and their ability to communicate value quickly. Today, just 16% of buyers say that virtual sellers are skilled at presenting ROI.

Remote selling isn’t going away!

It’s likely that things will return to normal over the next few months, but don’t expect remote selling to disappear. No matter when the pandemic ends, remote selling is here to stay, its just more efficient for a majority of salespeople.

McKinsey reported that up to 80% of B2B buyers prefer remote human interaction. In addition buyers can schedule 30-minute meetings vs 60-minute in-person meetings with sellers and get more done. Selling remotely has become a necessity for anyone in sales.

The sales experience is important.

Sales opportunities for sales representatives have decreased by approximately 74% since the pandemic began. This means salespeople need to get better to maximize sales from a reduced set of opportunities.

Managers must step in to provide clarity and firm guidance as reps struggle to adjust to the buyers new habits. Having a solid sales process and clear communication between sales leaders and their teams will be essential.

In a highly competitive “sea-of-sameness” from a buyer’s perspective, salespeople must differentiate in HOW they sell when selling remotely.  

According to Brent Adamson, Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst, “It is going to be mission-critical for reps to make the most of the moments that matter during this buying cycle.” That means building buyer empathy, sharing more compelling content, asking smarter questions, and having conversations that build trust, communicate the financial value of their solutions, and reveal the nuanced differences between their competitors.”  

Taking this shift to remote selling for granted and, therefore, assuming that sales representatives are prepared is a mistake. Continuing to improve remote sales experience will lead to pipeline build and higher win-rates.  Simply put, it is too important to be anything less than great in remote selling execution.

Remote Selling

Are your sales and CS teams trashing your brand mojo?

4 MIN READ

Are your sales and CS teams trashing your brand mojo?

By Mark Gibson on July 01, 2021

CEOs, marketing, and sales leaders are likely unaware of the opportunities their sales and customer success teams are missing to contribute to their brand Mojo.  In fact, if they knew how badly some of their team members’ online presence looked, they would be alarmed and call for immediate action.

Since salespeople and CS teams were sent home last year, very little has changed in the set-up and virtual presence for a majority of customer-facing professionals.  CMO’s on the other hand spent tens of thousands or even millions of dollars on messaging, website design, virtual events, giveaways, and brand mojo.  

Based on the sample of salespeople and CS teams we have observed, the majority are letting the side down on Zoom calls.  Over the past year, we have seen sales and CS people with all sorts of camera angles, bad lighting, and sound, presenting on camera dressed in baseball caps, tee-shirts and torn or worn clothing, untidy room backgrounds, and even with people in the background exercising.  

The vast majority of customer-facing professionals in our audit indicate that teams worldwide are poorly equipped for remote selling and customer success conversations, improperly set up, and underutilizing their potential impact on brand mojo.

Remote Selling

 

What is Brand Mojo?

Doug Kessler at Velocity Partners in the UK published a great article on the three M’s of B2B marketing, Meaning, metrics, and mojo: the 3 keys to B2B marketing today.

According to Doug, “Mojo is confidence, attitude, energy, and passion. It’s your voice and your stance and the banner you wave as your team marches down Revenue Street towards the Mall of Fame.

Mojo is the thing that the best, smartest people in your company bring to work every day—but that somehow gets lost before you can get it to market.

Mojo turns a company into a crusade and a mission statement into an actual mission.

Mojo sends the most important signals you can ever send to your prospects and customers: that you love what you’re doing. That you’re really, really good at it. And that they’ll love working with you, too.”

BRAVO Doug!

Customer-facing teams are missing a major opportunity to contribute to their company’s brand mojo.  In a hypercompetitive world, where products/solutions/services look and sound the same, and the buyer is in control, HOW you engage, sell and manage the relationship is more important than what you sell.  

How you sell and engage is how you present on camera, how you portray your brand values, what you wear, what you say, how you say it and how well you engage and interact with customers and buyers, and how you follow up with every customer or prospect call.  

This is a CEO-level problem, and a potential source of embarrassment for marketing, sales and CS  leaders when they become aware of it. 

Measuring Mojo

Sales and CS activity is measurable, sales activity and results are measured and scrutinized.  Mojo is measurable, but the problem for most companies is that there are no objective standards for what good virtual presence looks like, so Mojo cannot be measured.

Perhaps this is why sales and CS people think it’s OK to wear what they might wear to a little league game when they meet with prospects and customers.  What if we did a “mystery shopper” on your sales and CS team. Is this their likely score?

 

 

Selling in a Post-pandemic World 

With the pandemic coming under control, sales and CS leaders are contemplating the future operating mode of their sales teams. 

Remote selling is here to stay with occasional visits to clients and the office for collaboration, coaching, and team-building. The economics and productivity losses do not justify requiring sales and CS people to make every call in person or to return to the office to make calls. 

In the first year of COVID-19, companies retrenched people and made tactical investments, spending the bare minimum to equip teams to work from home. 

Now is the time to invest to retool and reskill sales and CS people to contribute to your brand mojo in a world where virtual engagement is forever – and they will love you for it. 

Doug Kessler is coming to Mojo as a thought leader in a top UK marketing agency, with a message focused on an audience of CEO’s and CMO’s.  But the bigger unrealized mojo opportunity is with your customer-facing sales and customer success teams, wherever they work. 

How We Can Help 

We have identified six key aspects that contribute to brand mojo for salespeople 

  1. Setting up the home studio for high-quality video 
  2. Brand and presentation sizzle 
  3. Visual conversation frameworks that help salespeople, engage, build trust, share insight and listen effectively 
  4. Visual storytelling using whiteboards and visual confections to quickly and confidently convey big ideas 
  5. Crisp messaging and pre-defined sales conversations that everyone uses 
  6. Recording every call for coaching and mentoring and for review by stakeholders in the organization who care about brand mojo.

If you would like to take your sales and customer success team’s Mojo from “meh” to unstoppable, schedule some time with me for a conversation and we can discuss your goals and share ideas for a Mojo improvement program to achieve them.

                               SOURCE: Enableocity, Inc.

Gartner Report: Three Skills for Successful Virtual Selling.

2 MIN READ

Gartner Report: Three Skills for Successful Virtual Selling.

By Mark Gibson on Jun 25, 2021

In Gartner’s recently published Chief Sales Officer Q2 2021 Report they feature a section entitled The three skills frontline sellers need for successful virtual selling.


Gartner has identified three key seller competencies that CSOs should add in their updated seller competency profiles: 

 

  • Digital Dexterity 
  • Data Literacy 
  • Virtual Customer Engagement 
 
The report states that 74% of CSOs surveyed report they have recently or are currently updating their seller competency profiles for virtual selling, and 61% of CSOs are already investing in new technology to enable virtual selling.
 



In addition the report calls out the need for sales leaders to work with sales enablement on defining virtual selling competencies and ensuring the updated seller competency profiles can support the company’s long-term strategic objectives in addition to short-term ones. 

 

This alignment also ensures that urgency for updating selling skills becomes a sales organization wide priority and encourages the adoption of these skills by different sales teams.  We wholeheartedly agree and offer remote selling mastery skills training to rapidly bring everyone on the team up to competency and certify them in virtual engagement skills.

 
Sometimes I wonder what planet Gartner is on when more than 80% of salespeople observed in the wild exhibit one or more of The 7 Deadly Virtual Selling Sins.
 
We do however agree that digital dexterity or digital competency is a requirement and it transcends basic Zoom controls.  Furthermore the opportunities to combine brand mojo into digital dexterity are not even mentioned in the report.  We have found a majority of sellers are trashing their brand mojo in virtual selling situations.
 

Remote Collaboration could also be a bridge-too-far for many sales teams who believe that PowerPoint is the best way to add a visual dimension to the virtual conversation. Conversation frameworks are a great first step in remote collaboration and create opportunities for synchronous and asynchronous engagement.

How to use visual conversation frameworks to build pipeline!

3 MIN READ

How to use visual conversation frameworks to build pipeline!

By Mark Gibson on Jun 15, 2021

Pipeline

That’s what every sales leader wants to see. And it’s not the common or garden variety of pipeline, full of fluff and deals that will never close, it’s qualified opportunities that will close in our time frame. BTW, I snagged this from the internet in case you are not clear about my definition of pipeline. “A sales pipeline is an organized, visual way of tracking multiple potential buyers as they progress through different stages in the purchasing process”.

Question: Why is it so hard to build a quality pipeline? There is more than one answer to this question, I have provided four, but there are more. Answers:

1. It is harder to get initial meetings in this COVID WFH environment than ever and salespeople are not getting enough “at-bats”, therefore the pipeline is sparsely filled.
2. Failure to build trust and demonstrate competence during the initial meeting means the salesperson does not have enough insight to say whether an opportunity exists and the buyer will likely decline a 2nd meeting leading to a sparse pipeline.
3. The salesperson talked about the product instead of listening to the buyer to get an understanding of the buyer’s problems and priorities and the salesperson doesn’t know if an opportunity exists and the buyer will likely decline a 2nd meeting leading to a sparse pipeline.
4. Weak qualification and lack of an auditable milestone i.e. confirmation from the buyer that they are indeed willing to take the next step with you, leads to a pipeline based on hope.

What are Visual Conversation Frameworks?

Visual conversation frameworks are a set of visual conversation structures that salespeople can use to engage buyers at each step in the customer buying process in real-time while in a virtual meeting. These frameworks help the buyer to communicate more clearly about what is important to them and for the salesperson to listen and capture the essence of the conversation on a physical or digital whiteboard or flip-chart.

In a world where buyers are suffering from Zoom fatigue and Discovery fatigue from playing 20 questions with salespeople, conversation frameworks when applied correctly are a refreshing change. They are great for rookie sellers or salespeople who until now have had no formal way of conducting conversions as they follow a logical method and are a natural way for buyers to talk about their issues. Visual conversation frameworks help drive deeper qualification and assessment to create a shared vision. Salespeople and technical presales and consulting teams are trained not to sell or pitch products in these sessions. The Enableocity Conversation Frameworks can accommodate and amplify any existing sales methodology, including Challenger, Force Management, CVI, Miller Heiman, etc. In recent field activity post-training, salespeople still used the conversation framework to guide the conversation, even though they did not share their screen. After the meeting they populated the conversation template and embedded it in their followup meeting summary.

How do they work to build pipeline?

Visual Conversation Frameworks are simply communication aids to facilitate more effective virtual communication. Adding a visual dimension to the conversation including words and iconography to capture the conversation helps to facilitate rapid understanding, retention and creates opportunities for asynchronous selling. When we embed images of the completed conversation framework in a meeting summary after the meeting and send it to the buyer, we summarize the conversation and the agreed next steps. We ask the buyer in the meeting summary to confirm that they are in agreement with our summary of the meeting and next steps, either via email or a brief phone call. If the buyer confirms they are in agreement, you have a rock solid qualified opportunity. If the buyer goes radio silent after sending the meeting summary and fails to confirm they are in agreement within 7-days, you know it’s over, unless the buyer has had a genuine emergency and has been unable to respond.

Asynchronous Selling and Win-Rates

Not only do these frameworks help to build pipeline, they create an opportunity for the meeting summary to circulate to interested parties who we need to influence to sell, fund and implement the solution. In addition to the meeting summary, if we create a 3-4 minute video walkthrough of the conversation framework image, we create another powerful way of building mindshare asynchronously. In combination these work to boost win-rate as they walk the halls of the prospective customer’s organization when you are not there.

Customer Storyboarding & Remote Meeting Mastery- video

< 1 MIN READ

Customer Storyboarding & Remote Meeting Mastery- video

By Mark Gibson on Mar 11, 2021

This 2.5-minute video explains how you can transform your team’s virtual selling results, boost win-rate, and build pipeline this quarter.

If you are happy with your team’s virtual selling results, then this training program is not for you.

On the other hand, if you want your team to produce different outcomes from virtual meetings starting as soon as your team equips their home office for remote meeting mastery, then let’s get started with Customer Storyboarding and Remote Meeting Mastery.

 

By combining the right home video environment and a new technique that adds an engaging visual dimension to virtual meetings, salespeople can transform their meeting outcomes overnight.

What would the impact on your organization be if 50% of your salespeople were able to progress from being 5/10 effective virtually to > 8/10 in the space of a couple of weeks?

Remote Selling Mastery delivery options vary from multiple 1-hour sessions and video to ½ day or full day REMOTE sessions. Sellers of all types (ISR’s, AEs, SE’s, GSA’s, SDR’s, CSR’s) will leave the hands-on session knowing:

  1. How to set up their home office into an effective remote selling environment.
  2. Best practices for Sales Qualification during a 1st remote meeting.
  3. Remote meeting pitfalls and how to avoid them.
  4. How to properly follow-up a first call remote meeting to improve qualification, win-rates and forecasting accuracy.

How to be more effective selling virtually

5 MIN READ

How to be more effective selling virtually

By Mark Gibson on Mar 11, 2021

Some organizations are beginning to move their sales teams back to work in the company office in staggered shifts to avoid overcrowding of the office space.

The question is, are salespeople more productive working from home or in the office? The answer may surprise you.

There is a lot of value in the water-cooler effect for salespeople in working in an office with easy access to SME knowledge, meeting people in different departments and sharing stories with colleagues. However this social aspect aside, salespeople are more productive working from home, and part of the problem is the office itself.

From Open Plan, to Partitions and Back Again

Open plan has been around since commerce began in London in the 18th century.

Open plan was sold as an innovative concept for offices back in the 1940’s, a Frank Lloyd Wright idea implemented first at SC Johnson Wax. Wright’s innovative design was well spaced, but open. The original idea was slowly degraded over the ensuing decades without regard for workers in the typing pool and other clerical roles. This excellent Vox video Open Offices are Over-rated gives a brief history of office design.

For those who were not around before word processing systems were invented, Mad Men was an echo-back to the noisy and impersonal work environment of the typing and clerical pool of those times from the 50’s to the 70’s.

Then came cubicles, an idea from furniture manufacturer Herman Miller in the 60’s. I started selling in 1981 and the cubicles were 6’ high and covered in brown sound absorbent carpeting and they were a big advance on open plan from a privacy perspective. You could have a normal conversation with someone next to you having a phone conversation without overhearing what was being said at normal volume.

Then the height of the cubicle was reduced several feet and glass was fitted to provide a feeling of connectedness. But the noise level went up drastically as the partitions dropped and the modern surfaces while looking cool, reflected noise instead of absorbing it.

Then came an open-plan work desk with the idea that salespeople use conference room or booth for making calls. I don’t know who the genius was who came up with this format, but the idea was sold as a collaborative environment in high density tech-hubs in Boston, San Francisco and New York, when actually, it is a terrible environment for any customer-facing professional making calls. It was cheap though. All of these environments have drawbacks, but from a sales perspective, the open desk setup of today’s tech companies really sucks.

Then COVID hit and now everyone is working from home. While a fraction of the population has always worked from home, now nearly everyone is.

Improving Virtual Selling Productivity

The first and foremost skill salespeople must master is communication. Great salespeople are great communicators.

Whether salespeople work from home or in an office, CEO’s and CFO’s should be budgeting to equip each salesperson’s workspace to enable high-fidelity communication with customers and prospects. The fact that I am even having to mention this shows how little thought has gone into this subject from company leaders.

A quality working environment for a salesperson, whether working from home or in the company office should consist of the following:

  • Their own decent quality 4’ x 3’ desk
  • A top quality ergonomic chair
  • A standing desk-riser (salespeople should make calls standing up)
  • An external high quality monitor
  • A quality whiteboard drawing surface either mounted directly behind the salesperson or a portable whiteboard sufficient in size to share ideas and readable by the buyer in the Zoom call.
  • A quality microphone, camera and lighting to illuminate the salespersons face and the drawing surface without reflection.
  • Sound damping to eliminate echoes from hard surfaces and from neighboring salespeople if in an office environment.

Salespeople should be more productive working from home as they don’t have to leave their workstation to make calls in a small office or booth to avoid the boiler-room buzz of neighboring salespeople.

Family members make appearances from time to time in WFH Zoom calls as does the family cat for a smooch, or the dog with intrusive barking, but with zero commuting to an office and zero travel to in-person calls, it is perfectly reasonable to expect improved productivity.

How to Become more Effective Selling Virtually

Now that we have set up an office environment where salespeople can become more productive, how can we help them to become more effective?

According to several recent surveys, between 50% and 70% of salespeople surveyed believe they are more effective selling in person than virtually. This is a huge red-flag after 6-months WFH and this is an urgent problem for sales leaders to address. Could it be that 50% of your salespeople are underperforming on every call?

Virtual Selling Change Drivers

We have interviewed dozens of sales leaders in the past 6-months about the challenges they are facing with a WFH sales team. Here are the key drivers of change raised more than a few times:

  • Weak Pipeline
  • Low win-rates
  • Leading with product
  • Leading with Powerpoint instead of having a conversation
  • Low quota attainment
  • High attrition (voluntary and involuntary)
  • Poor differentiation v competition
  • Discounting to close
  • Deals slip from quarter to quarter
  • Long sales ramp time

Future State Vision

When asked what their vision or goals from an effective WFH enablement program we captured these comments:

  • Salespeople learn to use empathy to develop rapport and trust faster
  • True dialogue vs PowerPoint pitch
  • Acumen + insights + stories to connect
  • Create clarity in articulating value and influence buyer vision
  • Align with the buyer in their buying-process
  • Create aids to sell when you are not there and asynchronously
  • Qualify opportunities better and improve forecasting accuracy
  • Faster sales ramp.

Impact

When asked what the impact of those changes would be, we get the same answers from nearly everyone,

  • Differentiate in HOW we sell
  • Improved win-rate
  • Pipeline acceleration
  • Increased quota attainment
  • The good stuff that comes from these impacts up and down the management chain.

Introducing a Visual Dimension to the Virtual Conversation

As mentioned, salespeople are firstly great communicators. Sometimes simple ideas can make a huge difference in communicating and that is what we have learned as a result of introducing a whiteboard drawing surface to capture virtual sales conversations.

Remote Selling Mastery’s co-founder Corey Sommers wrote the book on Whiteboard Selling. Corey’s latest idea on the use of whiteboards in virtual meetings, combined with conversational frameworks that naturally guide the conversation is a breakthrough that sales leaders need and are embracing to improve virtual selling outcomes from every call.

Here is a whiteboard capture of the conversations we have had with buyers. When this image is embedded in the meeting summary and sent to the buyer post-meeting, it has the potential to walk around the organization and create mindshare when you are not there.

Where to From Here

Remote Selling Mastery is working with leading technology companies today to introduce what we are calling Customer Storyboarding which teaches salespeople the conversational storyboard technique and the conversational framework for each step in the buying process.

As a starting point for each engagement, we ask our customers to equip their sales teams with the equipment mentioned above to create an effective home environment for Remote Meeting Mastery.

9- Remote Selling Best-Practices

4 MIN READ

9- Remote Selling Best-Practices

By Mark Gibson on Mar 11, 2021

Remote Selling is the new Normal

This article will be of interest to salespeople conducting remote calls, sales leaders, sales enablement leaders and leaders of technical pre-sales teams who want to improve outcomes from every remote selling meeting.

We are 90-days into the COVID-19 era and most salespeople will be comfortable with using Zoom and other video conferencing platforms to engage prospects. I thought I saw in a Linkedin feed that a quick poll taken at SaaStock last week indicated that about 50% of participating companies were considering plans for in-person calls in 2H2020.

While a lot of salespeople may be itching to get on planes to go visit prospective customers, why as a customer, would I want an in-person visit from a salesperson, given the risks? Over the past 90-days, B2B buyers have had adequate proof that they can evaluate alternative offerings and make decisions without a handshake and a close and personal encounter with a salesperson.

As your sales manager, you will have to be very convincing before I sign off on an airline ticket to visit prospective customers when our top sellers are doing very well selling remotely.

I hear an objection, “But what about when buyers insist on meeting company leadership before making a commitment?” Executive-level meetings and reference calls can be done very effectively and more efficiently remotely.

“But what about the post-COVID era, surely things will return to normal?”, says another naysayer.

Because we are unlikely to see an effective vaccine and immunization of the general population inside 2-years, today’s new “remote-selling” normal will be the norm, with just a few exceptions for selling very high ticket items.

How do you rate your sales organization’s effectiveness at remote selling? The sales organization includes SDR’s, inside sales, field sales, SE’s, and solution architects.

Remote Selling Challenges

The challenges in selling remotely are mainly human; there is little difference in the technology used to get an appointment for a phone/video conference and to have a remote-first meeting with a prospect.

Here are a few of the human challenges we observe:

  • Lack of skill to engage remotely and build rapport
  • Lack of confidence
  • Easily distracted
  • Poor communication and listening skills
  • Lack of call preparation
  • Lack of supervision and coaching
  • Low conversion rates from first meetings
  • 1-way presenting instead of having a conversation
  • “Product-speak”, or what Scott Santucci calls Productitis
  • Poor or no formal follow-up

Please feel free to add more challenges in the comments section.

Remote Selling Best-Practices

A quick Google search revealed several dozen articles with advice and best practices for selling remotely. We have a few ideas of our own and best practices conversation frameworks for each step in the buy-sell process that make it much easier to engage buyers in a true dialogue.

Here are a few of the more important remote selling best-practices that we see top sellers practicing.

  1. Turn on your cameraZoom and Chorus.ai stats (pre-COVID), indicate that win-rates increase by 9% with both buyer and seller having their camera on at each meeting.
  2. Set up your home video studio – If you use video from a home office, you should do what you can within reason to make yourself clearly heard and easily seen. This video from Corey Sommers on setting up a home studio is recommended. Having some sort of physical or digital whiteboard is a must for your home office setup.
  3. Use a pre-call checklist – Airline pilots use them, doctors use them, if you are not using one, then I suggest you get started tomorrow.
  4. Use an up-front-contract – so that you are on the same page as to the duration, purpose, and outcome of the meeting.
  5. Use a Sales Prologue – This is not a new technique, but like many good ideas it has stood the test of time but is largely unknown. The sales prologue is a way of building rapport with the buyer by deliberately thinking through in advance what some of their questions might be for you. If you open the meeting with, “As I was preparing for our meeting today, I tried to think of some of the questions I thought you might have for me. I thought you might want to know, i. What do we know about your business? ii. Who have you helped that is like me? iii. How can you help me? Are these some of your questions?” You explain how you will respond to those questions and then ask, “Do you have any other questions?” Less than 1% of salespeople ever ask these questions, but by asking them and running the meeting around the buyer’s questions you are serving your prospect’s agenda and not yours. This builds trust and sets you apart from other salespeople. (How you sell is more important than what you sell.)
  6. Questions. Answering buyer questions should be your top priority for the meeting. One of the buyer’s questions might be, “just exactly what do you guys do?” If you don’t answer this question up-front at a high level, you are in danger of alienating the buyer who has to wait until it comes up in your pitch. Ideally the answers to buyer questions will be captured in your sales playbook
  7. Get the big idea across upfront. Use an animation, visual confection, draw it out, or show a sample of your work. When the buyer asks the prior question, you could physically show them a sample of your product, an image, or use a physical or digital whiteboard to outline at a high level how you help customers.
  8. Use Visual Conversation Frameworks. My colleague Corey Sommers, who literally wrote the Whiteboard Selling Book, has some breakthrough, new ideas that add a much more powerful visual dialogue capability to your meetings using either a physical whiteboard or digital tablet. Instead of pitching a whiteboard story about what your company sells, Corey has developed a series of conversation frameworks and a very creative way of engaging buyers in a qualification discussion that is focused on your prospect’s needs. The salesperson captures dialogue elements visually in real-time and this serves to add a dimension of visual clarity and understanding without being manipulative or pitching. It also provides the basis for meeting follow-up.
  9. Send a Meeting Summary – Following every remote meeting, a picture of the captured whiteboard conversation serves as a powerful selling aid when embedded in a meeting summary template. Again, the meeting summary is not a new technique but, it is 90% effective in qualifying buyers.