We’ve all had to massively adapt the way we work over the last few months, for very obvious reasons. At the centre of this shift has been the huge adoption of video conferencing.

Zoom alone saw daily participants soar from 10 million to 200 million in the first quarter of 2020.

While it has proved a lifeline to businesses in all sectors, not everyone has easily adapted to the virtual world.

In fact, during a recent webinar almost two-thirds of attendees (62%) revealed they found selling more challenging in a digital environment.

This is unsurprising, considering that the reason many of us are in sales is because we thrive on human connection and interaction (and obviously the commission goes down rather well).

In this blog we explain why it can be more difficult to build a rapport screen-to-screen, than it is face-to-face, and how you can increase your sales effectiveness in a virtual setting.


Body language:

Many of you will be aware of the impact body language has on human interaction.

In his 1971 book, Silent Messages, Albert Mehrabian revealed three components which impact how we interpret what’s being said to us:

  • Words used
  • Tone and rhythm of voice
  • Body language

However, what was ground breaking about Mehrabian’s research was the finding that we put significantly more emphasis on body language (55%) and tone of voice (38%) rather than what was actually said (7%).

Even when speaking on the phone just 25% of our reaction is based on the words used.

So when pitching to a client virtually, how can we overcome these obstacles and create an emotional connection?


1. Manage your tech and environment

Just because your team are Zoom disciples, doesn’t necessarily mean your clients are. You should also become confident with Microsoft Teams, WebEx and Google Hangouts in case that’s their preferred platform.
Ensure you remove any background clutter that could distract your prospects –if you’re in a particularly busy environment, use a professional virtual background.


2. Humanise

Building “know, like and trust” is critical to any sales conversation. So look at ways to build a connection from the start. Obviously we have said that you don’t want any distracting objects in the background – however there is a slight caveat to this.

Strategically placed objects, such as a classic film poster or running medals, can serve as a great ice-breaker. And don’t forget the standard sales techniques to build a connection, such as mirroring your prospect.


3. Follow a proven sales process

Just because you’re meeting screen-to-screen, as opposed to face-to-face, doesn’t mean you should adopt a completely different approach. Stick to a proven sales process. For example, at SBR we teach the QUIS Selling™ consultative sales technique. It stands for Question, Understand, Influence, Solidify the sale.

It is vital to keep the 4 stages in the back of your mind during virtual sales meetings. Many salespeople unfortunately forget about the first two stages and go straight into the ‘Influencing’ stage, even if this isn’t an approach they’d take during a physical meeting.


4. Pre-approach and preparation

Again, we have seen many clients forget critical aspects all because of the virtual environment. Make sure you have fully prepared, from knowing who you’re meeting with, their position in the decision-making unit and what you intend to ask them.

Knowing the personality types of prospects is also critically important. Previous email conversations can help you work out whether your dealing with detail orientated personalities or someone who likes more of a top-level overview.

LinkedIn is also great tool for getting insight into who you’ll be speaking to and how you tailor your approach.


5. Stories vs facts

It’s a popular adage that “facts tell and stories sell”. Using previous success stories is a highly effective way of building trust and making yourself memorable. Prospects are more likely to remember a decent narrative, that adds in real colour, than dry facts.

This is highly important in the virtual environment where several video calls can soon blend into one.


6. Interactive

One of the main benefits of virtual selling is the ability to share content with your prospects. Using whiteboards and screen sharing are great ways to stop screen fatigue and keeping your audience engaged.


7. You are the conductor

As we have mentioned above it’s critical to keep your prospects engaged. It’s vitally important to watch their facial expressions as you are presenting. If you feel that the attention of certain stakeholders is waning, ask checking or naming questions to draw them back in.


8. Adapt and evolve

After seven months of virtual meetings, it’s integral to constantly adapt and evolve. Make sure that you learn from what hasn’t worked from previous sales meetings to include in future training and preparation.

There is a lot to learn about selling in the virtual environment. As with any skill, the more you do it, learning from your mistakes, the better you will get.

For a more in-depth explanation of the above steps and other virtual selling techniques, take a look at the replay of our recent webinar Adapting Your Selling Style For The Virtual World.


To talk to us more on how you can improve the quality of your virtual selling technique, please get in touch by emailing info@sbrconsulting.com or call us on +44 (0) 207 653 3740.

At SBR we’re dedicated to providing whatever support our clients require to guide them through the ongoing crisis. You can sign up to receive regular updates and join over 4,000 others who enjoy access to our unique research insights, expert guidance and advice.

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