Many sales leaders are now planning a permanent move to virtual selling, and realize they will need to prepare accordingly. Where, for example, sellers may need to adjust their approach to customer meetings to fit the virtual format.
In Gartner’s Framework to Enable Effective Virtual Sales, they show that close-to 1/4th of sales leaders are now looking at a permanent move to virtual sales – as opposed to the traditional, field sales of the past. A figure that more than doubled between March and June of 2020.
This change in outlook is in line with past findings that a majority of B2B buyers and sellers prefer the new, digital way of interacting, and Gartner underlines that “the uncertain nature of the pandemic as well as the promise of cost savings in the future indicate virtual selling is likely here to stay.” Making it plausible that, while it may take some time before digital becomes an absolute standard, it will be the case within a few years.
Something that, in turn, confirms what you probably know already. Namely that adapting to this digital reality now can give you a competitive advantage moving forward. Where one practice that will need to be updated is the customer meeting, which will need to be adjusted for the virtual format.
The virtual meeting is not quite like the physical
Gartner underline this very idea in the above-mentioned report. Where they explain that “progressive sales enablement leaders….realize they must guide sellers to stop assuming live meeting practices transfer 1:1 to virtual settings”, and share a number of optimal approaches to (among others) the area of customer meetings/interactions. A selected few of which we’ve boiled down to the tips you’ll find below:
While Gartner says that the current approach is to “apply live meeting tactics of (an) expansive and often flexible agenda”, it’s not the optimal way of going about it. Instead, said agenda should be lean, focused and clear, with a narrower scope than in the past. I.e. removing superfluous activities, ensuring that each thing on the agenda serves a purpose, is a good idea.
Roles and objectives for participating sellers, managers etc. should be clearly defined and not too general or broad. This to “maximize limited time with customer”, and standing in stark contrast to the loose, flexible roles that may have been utilized in physical meetings.
While the traditional slides and one-sided content may have worked in the past, virtual meetings demand more interactivity. With this, it can be beneficial to use questions and polls to increase participation and unveil potential obstacles, add deliberate pauses to make sure the customer understands what is being discussed, and “encourage customers to co-create ideas and solutions live on the call by using whiteboarding tools that invite collaboration and dialogue.”
Whether you’re moving your entire sales to the virtual room, or want to start selling virtually to cater to customers and their new expectations, considering how your sales approach need to change for the format will be beneficial. Where the customer meeting is one of those practices that will need to be updated, and where you can also find more ideas on how to go digital in our previous article on ways to make your B2B sales organization digital.
Gartner, Framework to Enable Effective Virtual Selling, 2020
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