As the world quickly evolves to become more distant and remote with our social settings there’s a major shift happening in the professional world that will have a major impact on how we sell for years to come. As companies start to analyze how to keep a more “remote” setting in place for their staff, it’s going to become even more critical as sales professionals that we adapt with these times and understand our prospect and customer needs from a virtual setting.
We’re going to take a few minutes and list the biggest ways we believe the salesforce will be impacted by virtual selling and how you can quickly adjust your outbound sales game to become more virtual. A few weeks ago we wrote about how you can lead your sales team remotely, but it’s time we focus on how we can start to win new business virtually.
Understand Your Prospects’ New Reality.
We’re going to see the internal workflow of our prospects permanently change as they adapt to a new remote setting. Now, more than ever, it’s important to place ourselves in our prospects’ shoes and understand what their day-to-day looks like working virtually.
Understanding what our prospects’ day now looks like will give us a major competitive advantage. Most sales professionals are going to keep “prospecting” as usual, when in reality, business isn’t what it used to be. Having a STRONG pulse on what our prospects’ new day to day looks like will drastically impact our chances for getting a conversation with them.
Listed below are a few questions you should ask yourself about your prospects. Answering these will help you think through a few new scenarios your prospect might be currently dealing with.
A Few Prospect Profile Questions You Need to Answer
How has COVID19 impacted your prospects? This might sound simple, but during times of crisis, we should always take some time and think about how our target market has been impacted. More so, we’re human, and we should care about how these people are.
Is your prospect now working from home? If so, are they working the same hours? Again, these might sound simple, but it will immensely impact how you prospect. If your target is now working from home full-time, this could seriously mean their routine is completely different. So, if you’re used to contacting your prospects in the afternoon, that might not be the case anymore due to their new environment and schedule.
Is remote work a permanent move for your prospect? If this is a temporary move for your prospect, do you know how long it will last? It’s important to know if this new reality is permanent for your target or if it’s temporary. If it’s a permanent deal, odds are you’re going to see this happen across the board in your industry and you will have to completely revamp your SSP (strategic selling process).
Start Adapting The Sales Challenger Method & Approach.
Last week I recorded a video about virtual sales and talked about how sales professionals who ONLY rely on relationships will have to rapidly adjust to a more outbound sales mentality. It’s time we evolve our game and become more of a challenger with our sales and prospecting.
The Challenger Sale is a great book for reference, but more so, it’s one of the biggest case studies ever recorded in B2B sales. It talks about how sales professionals fit into one of five categories. The most popular category for sales professionals is the “Relationship Builder”. It’s no secret relationships are key in sales, but it’s also the most comfortable.
Virtual selling will force us to become more direct and transparent with our product and service offerings. We won’t have the advantage of developing deep interpersonal relationships like we’ve always done, mostly person to person.
“Challenger” salespeople have a 40% higher success rate in B2B sales. It’s time for all of us to become more of a challenger with our sales process.
Key Aspects to the Challenger Sales Approach:
A challenger takes control of the customer conversation by directing the prospect while educating them on how their solution solves their problem.
Challengers aren’t afraid to ask tough questions when it comes to the customer’s business problems. They call the elephant out in the room, even if this is discussing potential problems your prospect is facing because THEY are getting in their own way.
Challengers are not afraid to discuss pricing early on. This allows them to qualify right away. Challengers are transparent and open about pricing, but they understand the value of the solution they’re selling, so they rarely negotiate a lower price. But since they’re so upfront about it right from the start, it allows both parties to know what ball game is being played.
The Challenger Sale is a good book to read. It’s tactical and technical but one all sales professionals should consider reading. It talks about how to prospect at scale and how to qualify right off the bat. Now that virtual sales is the future, taking a Challenger approach is more relevant than ever. Once engaged with a prospect, we need to be as direct as possible. There’s little time to waste in a virtual sales setting.
If you’re interested in the Challenger Sales book you can learn more here.
Get Comfortable With Cold Calling, Again….
Most salespeople will hate this advice, but it’s the truth and it’s time we start to accept it. Cold calling will become critical to your outbound sales strategy, and if you’re afraid to implement it, you’re going to struggle in this new virtual sales prospecting world.
With face to face contact on hold, conferences and events practically cancelled for the remainder of 2020, meetup and networking groups all virtual, we need to go back to the roots of reaching prospects, which means picking up the phone.
Cold calling is one of the oldest prospecting techniques around, and it’s still one of the best ways to make contact with cold connections. We understand the negative reputation of cold calling, but we also value the effectiveness of cold calling when it’s done right. Now that the world is going more and more virtual, it’s time to pick up the phone and start engaging cold prospects again.
If you’re a sales rep that’s not used to picking up the phone to generate business, now is the time to learn. It’s awkward, challenging, time consuming, but again, effective when you do it consistently. And like anything, it becomes much easier the more you do it.
Of course, there will be a select few sales professionals that hate this advice, and will refuse to use the phone as a cold prospecting tool which is fine. If you’re curious about our thoughts on how to generate sales without cold calling click here.
Expect More Number Changes, Voicemails and Out Of Office Replies.
One of the biggest things we’re predicting is the increase in number changes from prospects. It’s going to become increasingly harder to reach your prospects while they work remotely.
For example: if your prospect is now working from home, do they have access to their desk number that you might have on file? This is going to be a big game of cat and mouse. Along these lines, we fully expect for sales reps across the board to get more voicemails while companies make the transition to being fully remote. This shouldn’t stop you from cold calling and trying to reach your prospects though, as leaving a voicemail is still a critical touchpoint in the prospecting process.
Lastly, expect to see more “out of office” replies. This will most likely be a temporary solution to relieve the chaos some prospects might be going through while dealing with a virtual transition.
Most people use “OOO” replies as a quick pressure value so they don’t have to feel obligated to respond to emails in the moment. The best thing you can do is stay strong with your email follow up even after you get an “Out of Office”.
Virtual Selling Doesn’t Mean Being Less Human
The future of remote work is no longer “the future,” it’s here and it’s time we adjust to best serve our clients. More so, it’s even more important now to keep our outbound sales outreach even more human and transparent than ever.
People are going through tough times, and it’s best we acknowledge that right from the start. I even encourage calling out the “tough times” in your prospecting messaging. It’s okay to state what’s going on, and it’s even more okay to call out the elephant in the room, which is “business isn’t normal right now, and we understand that.”
Virtual selling will be a challenge, but it’s one we must all face head-on. The intent of virtual selling is to become as “human as possible” without potentially ever meeting your prospect in-person. This means sending more videos to put a face to your name, recording more audio messages so your prospects can hear your pitch vs read it, even getting creative and sending personalized notes and cards. The level of personal touch that is now needed in our prospecting has increased, and it’s time we step up to the challenge.
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