Selling for most sales reps has drastically changed in 2020. For salespeople that have never sold online before, this new environment may have them feeling fearful, hesitant, and unprepared. In the last blog, “Virtual Selling: The New Paradigm”, we discussed some best practices for selling online. This blog will focus more on conducting a virtual sales meeting with a prospective client.
Obviously, the goal of a sales meeting is to move the sale forward to the next step in your sales process. When you are selling face-to-face, you can build a connection and read body language enhancing your ability to adjust your presentation to the reactions of the prospect. Virtual sales meetings severely reduce your ability to do this. So, how do you run an effective virtual sales meeting that can build rapport with a prospect and move the sales forward?
Here are some virtual sales meeting best practices:
- Clarify the purpose of the meeting and create an agenda. Prospects are agreeing to give up their time to meet with you but may cancel before the start of the meeting if they do not understand the benefits. To increase your odds of the prospect “showing up” for the meeting, create an agenda that clearly defines a specific benefit related directly to the meeting for the prospect. This will let the prospect know what to expect and prioritize the meeting on their calendar with you. Example: “We will be meeting to share some ideas that can improve your business by increasing profitability and bringing clients to you. We will explore ways to utilize your advertising budget more effectively, increase your sales, and improve your bottom line.” Notice that nowhere in this benefit statement is the salesperson talking about themselves, their product, or their company. The points for the agenda that follows the benefit should also be focused on the prospect.
- Send the meeting invitation along with the agenda. People are busy and can easily forget your meeting and/or get booked by others that are looking at their shared electronic calendar. Send the virtual meeting invitation along with the agenda as soon as the meeting is initially set. This will allow people to put it on their electronic calendar, keep others from double-booking their time, and if needed to invite others in their organization to the virtual meeting as well.
- Anticipate and plan for potential questions and objections. Most salespeople get the same 6 to 7 questions/objections in 80% of their meetings. To keep virtual meeting participants engaged, think about possible questions/objections that may come up, and how to respond to them in a way that is relevant to the prospective client. This will allow you to respond with confidence when they come up.
- Arrive online early to make sure the technology is set and working. When conducting remote meetings, log on 30 – 60 minutes ahead of time to make sure everything is working, slide decks and/or shared applications are loaded, etc. This will help to keep prospective clients engaged by making sure they don’t have to wait for the technology.
- Build rapport with your prospective clients. It is tempting to dive right into virtual meetings when the prospect logs on but treat it like you would a face-to-face meeting by spending a few minutes building rapport and getting to know your prospect better. Building a personal connection enhances trust and increases your chances of moving the sales forward in the sales process.
- Ask lots of questions and listen to understand. Many salespeople go into virtual meetings thinking they know exactly what they are going to present. Then they proceed to “show-up and throw-up” by giving a boring presentation all about their company, their product, and themselves. Instead, ask questions about the prospect’s current challenges and priorities. Avoid interrupting or listening to respond. Listen with the intent to understand.
- Adjust your virtual presentation to the prospect’s challenges and priorities. Don’t just give a canned virtual presentation. Giving to much information is just as bad as not giving enough. You can plant seeds of doubt in the mind of the prospect that your company or product is more than they need. The key is that you listen so well that you only present the key points of interest to your prospect while connecting the value proposition to the prospect’s needs. This can be challenging even in face-to-face sales meetings.
Using these sales meeting best practices, along with a solid sales process, will help you to move the sale forward to the next step in your sales process. Creating more effective virtual sales meetings will ultimately allow you to close more business.