A Guide to the 4 Imperatives to Implement When Engaging Clients Virtually
The Coronavirus pandemic and the limits it has placed on face-to-face interactions has forced salespeople and their teams to reinvent how they engage with prospective and current clients.
At Next Practice, we have made that adaptation, too, but not without some learning along the way.
In recent years, technological advancements have allowed sales teams to interact with buyers in increasingly virtual ways, making it difficult for relationships to unfold organically.
Sales teams must be proactive, deliberate and ‘take the lead’ in the four areas below, to easily transition from face-to-face to virtual selling.
As we always highlight, our work, research and collaboration with clients has helped us refine and design our workshop and coaching programs. The following article reinforces the 3 Level Playbook discussed in our recent article and drills down into Four (4) Imperatives where sales teams can take the lead.
Imperative #1: Connect
Connection covers, and defines the core of the buyer relationship: How you develop enough of a trust with buyers so they’re willing to engage in conversations that ultimately lead them to make a purchase.
There are three key areas of connect: a) Project professionalism, b) Orchestrate conversations and c) Develop rapport.
Sales people need to be someone buyers want to pay attention to, and buy from. They can do this by, first, projecting professionalism online and then being deliberate in creating time and space to build rapport.
Finally, we need to orchestrate their virtual meetings wherein everything is faster, tighter and more organized. This way buyers will feel like their time was well spent and will want to move forward with the process.
Imperative #2: Engage
So many current distractions – both online and off – mean it’s much more difficult for company salespeople to capture and keep buyers’ attention during virtual meetings. That brings us to the second imperative: To engage, you must: a) Capture attention, b) Maximize engagement and c) Inspire visually.
In a virtual meeting, a strong opening will capture the buyer’s attention right off the bat. But once you have it, you need to maintain it.
The secret to keeping buyer engagement is to follow a simple ‘30 + 3 rule’. You must capture attention in the first 30 seconds and re-achieve engagement every three minutes. Engage by pausing to check in, asking questions or collaborating. “We have 10 ways in which you can do this. Again, just ask me and I can share with you.”
As you can imagine, virtual selling is inherently a more visual medium, this can be even more effective than with in-person meetings. We need to take them on a journey and show them what is possible.
Imperative #3: Collaborate
Our research and discussions with clients in delivering services has proven that active collaboration is critical for sales success.
There are three key areas of collaborating: a) Facilitate interaction, b) Master technology and c) Enable breakthroughs.
Salespeople need to take the lead in a virtual setting to involve buyers in a sales discussion and to engage with them, rather than at them. Smooth integration of technology and collaborative tools can make this easier. For example, we run simple brainstorming sessions using Lucidspark, or Google Jamboard on a live screen share to write down everyone’s thoughts can be a powerful way to collaborate. When done well, collaborative meetings can lead to breakthroughs that positively affect decision making.
A person that effectively collaborates virtually will tap into the buyer’s sense of possibility, and open the buyer’s eyes to new ideas that foster a sense of shared accountability to move the project forward.
Imperative #4: Influence
The last of the 4 Imperatives to implement when engaging clients virtually comes down to how effectively you can influence.
Influence is at the heart of the sales process. Online and off, salespeople can really act as change agents whose main goal is to persuade buyers to do something differently, or do something better.
The three key areas of Influence are: a) Persuade virtually, b) Strengthen relationships and c) Amplify reputation.
It starts by making a series of cases to drive change.
Becoming a relevant influencer comes down to both strategic, and serendipitous relationship building. For this, you need some deliberate effort over time. Focusing on how you show up online can help you form a strong reputation — someone the buyer wants to get to know better and learn from.
When salespeople wield their influence well virtually, they can drive behaviour and promote change. Buyers have more confidence in the process, provide greater access and are more open to the new ideas and different ways of thinking. This can set up greater buyer ownership- which is where we want to end up!
Virtual sales success – we have the coaching programs for you!
Focusing on the Four Imperatives can help you to transition from face-to-face more easily to virtual sales. There are challenges inherent in the virtual selling process, but these imperatives will help sellers to build stronger relationships and drive sales, which ultimately close the gap between the online and offline experiences.
If you would like more information on the tools we mention in this article or more on our Sales Coaching programs, be sure to check our website or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – we are here to help you and your team improve!
Keep on scaling up!
Nick and the Next Practice Team