Top Ten Skills YOU Need to Master Virtual Selling.
August 18 2020 | The Sales Logic Podcast | By Mark Hunter and Meridith Elliott Powell
To sell virtually today requires getting comfortable selling on the video as well as on the telephone. But there are other important skills to be taken in consideration to be successful while approaching your customers online.
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Meridith Elliott Powell: Welcome to Sales Logic. The show where we dive into the strategies, we cover the steps, everything you need to know to well, sell logically. I’m MerIdith Elliott Powell, and I’m here with my cohost-
Mark Hunter: Mark Hunter, the Sales Hunter. Great to see you, Meridith. Looking forward to a super show. We’ve got a great topic. Great question. Why don’t you walk through the audience kind of how we do the show.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Sure. So basically the very first thing that we do, we’ve got now four segments to the show, we’ve added another one, but basically what we do in this show is we cover a topic. We dive into a question, that’s right, a question that actually comes from you, our audience, and then we do a lightning round. So you walk away with the exact steps, the exact strategies, the exact things that you need to be doing. To really put what you learned from this show into effect. Now we also cover and highlight a book each time, something that we suggest that you read to help expand your sales experience and your sales effectiveness.
So, Mark, now let me tell you, basically, before we get started, if you have a question, if there’s something that you would like us to answer or to discuss here on this show. Please just contact us at our website, which is saleslogicpodcast.com, saleslogicpodcast.com. Or you can grab us on social media by #saleslogic or #saleslogicpodcast.
But Mark, why don’t we dive in today? Go ahead and give us the topic and the question for the day.
Mark Hunter: Well, the topic that we’re going to talk about is how is virtual selling different than in person sales and what does it take to be good at it. When we get to the lightening round, we’re going to be really giving you top 10 skills you need to master virtual sales.
So that’s kind of the gist of the whole thing. We’ve got a great question that came in very specifically, to Meridith. So I’m going to let her read the question, but you know what, I’m going to go ahead and cheat and do a quick promo here for the book piece, Smart Calling, Art Sobczak. This is a new piece we just added a couple of weeks ago, but we really believe you really got to get in and read and understand better, people. Smart Calling, Art Sobczak.
If you don’t know this guy he’s been around sales and telephone sales in particular for years. So if you think about it, ooh, man. He’s in the know right now. This is the latest edition of his book. Smart Calling, Art Sobczak. I loved it. I like it. But then I’ve known Art for years. And you know what’s one quick piece that you like about using the telephone when it comes to selling, Meridith.
Meridith Elliott Powell: You know I Iike the fact that I can get my energy across on the telephone. I mean, on the telephone, I can really give it personality and I can give it my energy and I feel like I can really connect people. I also like now the fact that I kind of think it catches people off guard. Most people are afraid of the telephone and it’s a true competitive advantage.
Mark Hunter: Yeah. I love it. And love how you say the personality comes through on the phone. So anyway, the book is Smart Calling suggest you pick up a copy of it. But anyway, with that, Mere, go ahead. Read the question from our listener, Cody Shelton.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. So this one came across to me, I guess, about a week ago and I loved it. Cody and I had quite an exchange around it, but Cody writes in and says “I was hired a month ago to build nine States in the Southeast.”
So understand if he was hired a month ago, he’s hired straight in the midst of COVID.
“And parts of Eastern Canada and parts of Eastern Europe. I want to drive quality conversations into large deals and bring an ROI and build significant revenue.” What sales person doesn’t want to do that? “What are some things I can do to position myself and our company in a true position of value with our partners and our customers.”
Mark Hunter: Well, I’m going to jump on that one first. It’s doing your homework before you begin the conversation. I’m always amazed at how much better calls go, of whatever type, when you’ve taken a couple of minutes and you’ve done some background research and gathered insight as to who you’re calling, what you’re talking about, what the company does, who their customers are, etc.
It just automatically demonstrates that you’re prepared for the conversation.
Meridith Elliott Powell: That’s a great. I just listened to a podcast about all of that, about the importance of really doing your homework before you reach out, you make a call. And I was reaching out to an old client of mine, somebody I haven’t worked for probably, gosh, five years. And I just decided, because I’d listened to the podcast, to do a little bit more homework than I typically do, and I just read that he was literally within the last 30 days promoted from president to chairman. So when I reached out today, I was able to say, congratulations on your recent promotion to chairman and referenced the gentlemen who took his place as president.
I mean, really make sure that you are up and that you understand them. I’m going to add one thing that I suggested to Cody was that he take advantage of the fact that he’s new. If you really want to understand how to add value, then you’ve gotta be having the conversations, really engaging and really listening to people.
So go ahead and call your existing customers. Let them know that you’re new in the role. You’re excited. And state to them exactly what you’ve stated to Mark and I, that you really want to add value. So you want to talk to them and listen to them and find out what’s most important to them. And the fact that you’re new really gives you the luxury to do that.
So don’t shy away from that, jump into it.
Mark Hunter: You know, that brings up a great point because I mentioned the same thing to another sales manager who just took over a territory. And he said, “I’m thinking about going out on a listening tour.” I said, you don’t have to go out. You can just pick up the phone and call every single customer and say, Hey, I’m new and I’m on a virtual listening tour and like talk to you about the business”, because this is the one time that you can get away. Because think about this a year or so from now, that person is not going to be able to call up a customer and say, I don’t know what you do. That ship sailed, you got to do it early on. This is one of the reasons why I always tell new salespeople it’s the greatest opportunity you’ll ever have to be prospecting because you get to say, I’m the new kid. And that customer walked away from anybody and everybody in that territory, it is open season. You get to go in and have a conversation.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, completely. You know, I would also add that you’re part of a company now, and I probably would look around the company to see if there are other sales professionals with territories that are really doing a phenomenal job.
That they’re doing exactly what you want to do. And if so, I’d go ask to shadow and to mentor with them and learn what they’re doing really well, what they’re not doing well, and really what works in your company. But you need as much as you need to be doing the research out, you need to be doing the research inside your company to really understand what has worked in the past.
What has worked to sell effectively and mimic and use some of those things.
Mark Hunter: So much of it is kinda what I’ll called “cheating”. You’re cheating off of what other people have learned. What other relationships are out there. You’re just gathering all of that insight together. And what’s amazing is it helps you become far more confident, faster.
But again, never give up the opportunity that early on you can just walk in, and I don’t want to say be the dummy, but yeah, you can just ask, “Hey, tell me what’s going on”. And you’ll be amazed at the level of insight. And please. Make sure as you’re in this, I’m gonna tell this to Cody, tell this to everybody, you gotta make sure you’re taking notes. Take notes, build out this massive database of knowledge by customer, by type, by anything and everything. Because right now, as a new person, it all may not make sense, but in two or three months, it will make sense. And you want to have those notes to be able to go back to and refer them.
Meridith Elliott Powell: I’m going to add one last thing before we jump into the topic and then I’ll let you introduce the topic. But, if Cody really wants do this, he’s got to have a plan. After he does all this listening and after he does all this intake, he’s got to decide if this is the goal’s he’s going to reach, what are the behaviors he’s going to do to get there?
How’s he going to inspire his team? What’s it going to look like? And how’s he going to track and measure? Because having, you know, you can have a vision of what you want to do, but you need the plan of how you’re going to get there. So with that, Mark, kind of roll us into the topic for the day.
Mark Hunter: Well, it’s good. The topic today is how is virtual selling different than in person sales and what does it take to be good at it? Well, tell us Mere.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, such a good question. You know, it’s funny, Mark, I wonder if you agree with that- I think that it is different and then in some ways it isn’t different. I think that virtual selling is different in the sense that for most sales professionals that I have worked with, it’s interesting, even with the age of technology, we still sell the old fashioned way. We still tend to do it face to face, most people do, at least closing the sale that way. And one of the biggest changes that has happened with virtual is that we’ve taken the face to face connection out of the way and we have to start to do it virtually. So the biggest thing that you've got to get used to is how good are your presentation skills and relationship building skills and your understanding of how to use video. Click To TweetBecause you are going to have to become comfortable with it, a master at it and good at doing video.
Mark Hunter: And that really starts by just simply being relaxed. Yeah. You gotta be prepared. But again, what I like about video is it does let your personality come through, but something that I’ll added that you always gotta make sure you’ve got a backup plan. I see too many video, too many zoom calls, Microsoft Team calls, whatever, where there’s a crash and it doesn’t work.
And what’s the backup plan? If I’m going to arrange a sales call, if this is a time commitment I’ve made to a customer- Hey, we’re going to be connect at two o’clock today. I want to make sure that if the connection we’re on fails, that I have a backup plan. So when I send out the invite- Hey, here’s the zoom link, or whatever platform I’m going to use, and also here’s the telephone, here’s my telephone number in case we run into issues because you gotta be prepared.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, I would also add that in person gave us more luxury of time. I mean, if somebody said, come by my office, we’re going to sit down and we’re going to meet- they’d blocked off 30 minutes, possibly an hour for you.
Now we don’t have that luxury. And so you have to understand how to do two things: you have to establish rapport much more quickly and you can’t waste time in a sales call asking questions to things you should already have the answer to. Now I would argue we shouldn’t be doing that in person. But you can get away with a little bit more in person. But you know, now people are busy, they expect meetings to be shorter because they’re online and you shouldn’t be on a fool’s journey and wasting their time with things that you should already have the answer to. So those two things kind of go together because you can build rapport a little bit faster when people know that you’ve done your homework, because it makes you look far more interested and far more confident and prepared, but you need to use your time far more wisely and effectively.
Mark Hunter: There’s a couple of pieces there, and that is really understanding that time is more valuable. If you’ve set aside an hour or half hour, it doesn’t mean you have to take the full hour. You can take 25 minutes or whatever, 20 minutes, you can take 50 minutes, 55 minutes, whatever. But here’s something that I have always found that works well- I’m going to make sure that before that meeting starts, I send them out an email 10 or 15 minutes or 20 minutes ahead of time: “hey, here’s, we’re going to be talking about, and here’s a couple added questions that I want to make sure we, we talk about”. I’m going to plant the seed with them for some additional thinking, some additional thoughts.
And what does that do? I think it allows the person to come in a little more prepared. It allows the customer to say, “wow, they’re really prepared for this sales call”. It just creates a little more professionalism and ownership of the sales call.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. I would also say that you need to be far more definitive about next steps and things after a virtual sales call.
So I had a couple this week would that ended up in proposals. I’ve put the proposals together and immediately when I sent those proposals back out, I’m letting them know when I’m – that I’m calling on and again something you should be doing in person, but you can get away a little bit more with it, you also have to have a really strong followup system. I feel like you have to be more diligent with virtual sales and you have to have a stronger plan and a stronger strategy.
Because it’s far too easy to lose the prospect along the way.
Mark Hunter: Well, it is very easy to lose a prospect along the way, because you can’t, if you’re sitting across from them, you know, an office, you physically can see everything that they’re doing, you can physically see. But, if you’re on like a Zoom call with them, you can’t necessarily see what else they’re looking at, what else they’re doing.
So you do, you have to engage them with more questions, more conversation. This means that you have to keep- it’s like a ping pong ball in a game of ping pong- you’ve got to keep that ball going back and forth where both sides are interacting far more frequently than if you were just sitting across the desk from them, in their office.
Meridith Elliott Powell: I just think that virtual sales wears me out a lot more than being in person. Being on video all day long, it takes a lot more energy out of me. Just the very fact that, you know, you’ve got to keep the ping pong ball in play. It takes a lot more of your energy.
So when I’m going to make sales calls and making sure that they’re high quality sales calls, because I don’t find, you know, that I have the energy to make as many as if I were dialing a telephone all day. So you may want to be thinking about mixing some of those things together.
Mark Hunter: Well, and that becomes a good piece. Virtual selling does not always require a video. Virtual selling can use the telephone. I have found many of my best sales calls are strictly on the telephone because it is amazing. They’re a little more relaxed, a little more natural and a little more free flowing. And so don’t necessarily think you have to be locked in.
So I can still do a phone call and I’ll send you the PDF file ahead of time, or I’ll give you the link, but we’ll just talk about it on the phone. And I found there are many, many people that are (exhale) because there’s so much just plain Zoom fatigue out there.
Okay. Hey, we got to keep the show moving along here.
So we should probably jump into that lightning round. So now you really baited us cause I mean, you wrote the agenda for today. You baited us, Top 10. Not two, not four, not six, not eight, but 10 skills. Oh, Meridith, man. Wow. You’re an overachiever, but that’s what you’ve been your whole life. Top 10 skills you will need to master virtual sales. Go.
Meridith Elliott Powell: All right. Number one is you have to get better at research and pre-call planning. That’s one.
Mark Hunter: Two, make sure you send out an email ahead of time with any materials that you want them to be looking at or questions you want to be asking them.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Great. Number three, ensure that you build your reputation online so that when people are on a call with you, they’ve already heard of you and about you.
Mark Hunter: Number four, be prepared for the call to go two ways. Always have a backup plan, whatever mode that you go with.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Great. Number five, hone your on camera skills. Get used to making eye contact with looking into the camera, smiling, really paying attention, really listening, asking good questions. But role play your virtual presence.
Mark Hunter: Number six, along with that, have a good audio connection and have two ways that you can receive audio, whether it be through a good microphone or whether it be through earbuds, AirPods, or something of that nature. We’re up to number seven. We’re getting there.
Meridith Elliott Powell: We’re getting there. Take control of the call in the sense that have good questions to ask, ensure that you sound as if you have done good research and you are prepared and set the next step before the call ends.
Mark Hunter: Number eight, if you’re planning to have multiple people on the call, make sure that they each receive their invite and make sure that you clarify with them that they’re both expected to be on the call. But if one does not make it, still carry on with the call, be prepared, use the time wisely.
Meridith Elliott Powell: I love that, you know, I’m going to dovetail a little bit in that, if you have more than one person on the call, truly direct the call. Make sure that you, when you ask a question, you ask it to a certain person, you use their name. You let people– up to work anything else that they want to add into it, but calls can end up with people talking all over each other or dead silence. So really put yourself in the position of director.
Mark Hunter: And number 10, record the call if you’re doing it by way of a video. But ask them first, is it okay if I record this just in case we say something good that we may want to come back and reference again. We did it.
We did the top 10 things, top 10 skills you need to master virtual sales. So Mere, where does that take us? Take us to the end.
Meridith Elliott Powell: I think we are about wrapping up. Cause I’ve got to go get on a virtual sales call.
Mark Hunter: Well, I’m going to say thank you for listening to Sales Logic this week. You like what you hear, subscribe, rate, and review the show on your favorite podcast app.
If something we’ve said has earned you a single dollar, consider telling a friend about our show. It’s how we grow to help you grow. I’m Mark Hunter-
Meridith Elliott Powell: and I’m Meridith Elliot Powell.
Mark Hunter: Remember when you sell with confidence and integrity.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Uncertainty suddenly becomes your competitive advantage
Mark Hunter: and the sale becomes logical.
We’ll see you next week.
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