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A beginner’s guide to virtual selling

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

With COVID-19 disrupting our normal day-to-day lives and businesses, there came a need to pivot and innovate. In the past, businesses have been all about physical meetings in a bid to close deals. However, in these current times, we have been forced to rethink this perspective.

Virtual selling or remote selling refers to the use of online technology and the internet as a replacement for in-person selling.

Mckinsey, in a study, found out that the amount of revenue generated from video-related activities jumped by 69% since April 2020. The same research identified that people prefer video over phone calls when meeting with their colleagues at work, meeting existing customers, meeting with prospects and meeting with suppliers with the percentage being around 76% - 79%.

Meanwhile, 91% of salespeople have reported that they do not want to go back to the office full time. With such strong numbers, it is safe to say that virtual selling is here to stay.

Virtual Selling Best Practises

In this new world, businesses have four choices: adopt, reinvent, innovate or stagnate. The businesses that choose to adopt, reinvent and innovate their virtual selling practices will thrive. The businesses that will be surviving only are those that choose not to accept the benefits that virtual selling offers.

To get started in virtual selling, you need to implement the following best practices:

  1. Choose video over audio

The use of video in virtual selling provides a key element of trust that is needed in business.

Zoom reports that 82% of users said there was greater trust with video which leads to more accountability and less multitasking. 91% of users said there was greater engagement with video, leading to better understanding through nonverbal communication.

Photo Credit: Zoom

There are two types of videos that you can use:

  • Synchronous video

Synchronous video communication happens when both parties are able to communicate with each other at the same time hence they are in “sync”. This video is best for use when handling discovery calls with your prospects.

Synchronous video tools include:

  • Zoom

  • Google Meet

  • Microsoft teams

  • Skype

  • Asynchronous video

Asynchronous video communication happens when a video is recorded by the salesperson and sent to the prospect or customer to watch at their own time. This video is best used when providing additional touchpoints for the prospects/ customer e.g in a check-in.

  1. Have a good setup

With virtual selling, how you present yourself to the prospect/customer is important. Your first impression is a critical part of your sales process.

To make a great impression in virtual selling, here is what you need:

  • A good quality camera

Whether you are using the inbuilt camera or have an external camera, you need to ensure that it is of high quality as it will impact how you appear on video.

A poor quality camera will make you look unflattering on camera which will influence your ability to make a great first impression.

  • Good sound

“Can you hear me now?”

This is one of the most asked questions when it comes to video calls.

Besides talking when you are on mute, another reason why people don’t hear you speak is because of your headphones.

Bluetooth headphones are notorious for having poor audio so the best way to go is to use wired headphones which have a built-in mic in them.

  • Good lighting

While the quality of your camera is partly to blame for the picture quality, another culprit you need to pay attention to is lighting.

Use natural light to your advantage. Face towards the window so that it can light you evenly. If you have the window behind you, you will be too backlit and people won’t see your face.

  • A good background

Simplify what the viewers can see in the background to avoid distractions. The best background is one of a blank wall.

When using virtual background it is important to take note of a few things:

  • Virtual backgrounds are not always reliable

Software updates, technology lag and wifi stability will affect the quality of your virtual background. The last thing you want to happen is to have the virtual background fail when your actual background is a mess. When you go to meetings ensure that your actual background is clean of any distractions as a backup plan for when the virtual background fails.

  • Virtual backgrounds are fake

Virtual backgrounds are cool to have when the right background is used.

Unless you are pitching for the third installment of Finding Nemo, there is really no reason for you to have an undersea theme as your virtual background in a sales meeting with a client.

Choose backgrounds that are simple and authentic that won’t be too distracting for your audience.

If you absolutely need to use a virtual background, ensure that you test out the background before your meeting.

  1. Get the meeting basics right

For any meeting whether virtual or in-person you need to get the basics right. Here are the foundational steps you need to take to sure a successful virtual selling:

  • Be prepared

- Send a calendar invite with the date, time and agenda set for your meeting.

- Minimize or eliminate any distractions that will affect your listening skills.

- Do your research to know your buyer, their business and their pain points.

- Be organized and have all your materials ready e.g customer stories and reports

  • Listen actively

Listen carefully to the prospect and get to understand their pain points. Take note of the pain points the prospect has mentioned to demonstrate the unique selling point your product or service has.

Ask clarifying questions to the prospect as and when required throughout the meeting so as to understand their needs.

  • Educate first, sell later

Educating the prospect first before selling to them is important as it builds trust, credibility and expertise. The prospects only buy from people they trust therefore it is important to approach sales from a thought partnership aspect where both of you will benefit.

  • Agree on next steps

As you finalize the meeting, agree on the next steps that you and the prospect need to take before your next meeting. You can send a recap of the meeting as an email or use an asynchronous video.

As virtual selling continues to have a huge impact on how we sell, it is important to ensure that the virtual selling experience is enjoyable and great for our prospects and customers.


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