By now, we’re all familiar with platforms like Google Meet, Zoom, WebEx, and GoToMeeting. Technology enables us to do more than ever before, and many companies were selling virtually even before the recent events, however, that doesn’t mean everyone is good at virtual selling or managing a remote sales team. Whether you’ve been managing a virtual sales team for several years or you’re new to the game, selling virtually is still about teaching, tailoring your message, and taking control of the situation to close the deal. We all need to practice the ABC’s of selling, Always Be Closing. So how do you effectively manage your remote sales team and keep moving deals through the pipeline?
Use Technology Effectively
We’ve used just about every tool on the market to do a virtual meetup. There are many, and they all essentially achieve the same goal, allowing you to share your screen, seeing how your prospect is reacting to the pitch, and personalizing the experience. The platforms, to a degree, are a commodity as long as you’re paying for them. In our experience, the free tools can be limiting for a professional sales team, but adequate. More important is understanding how to do a video call effectively. Here are a few tips.
- Use a headset and your phone to dial into the call. Often your phone will have much better reception and audio quality than your computer. Additionally, phones are made to make it easier to hear and speak, so it’s likely that your phone will have better audio than your computer. You’ll still use your computer for the video and presentation of materials, but you want to ensure that it’s easy for your prospects or customers to hear you without distortion.
- Never use your phone’s speaker or computer’s speaker without a headset. Yes, we’re redundant here with point one. However, in our experience managing sales teams and customer support teams around the world, a headset is crucial to good audio quality. The tendency is to think that because you’re able to hear easily through speakers instead of a headset that you’re also easy to hear. That’s far from the truth. At times, the mics will pick up ambient noise and create echos or annoying reverberations that make it harder to hear you. Always use a headset.
- Good lighting makes a big difference in coming across as professional and polished, even when working from home. Start by checking the brightness settings on your camera and ensure that you’ve got them set to make you look good. Next, always make sure your light source is coming from the front of you rather than behind you. A light source that is behind you may have you looking like the Dark Knight in Batman Returns, or like you’re in the witness protection program doing an interview anonymously. As much as technology has enhanced our lives, people still like to see other people’s smiling faces.
- Mute is your friend. When you’re not speaking, mute yourself. It ensures that there will be no distractions during the call, and it will also help with effective communication, which we’ll discuss in the second half of this article.
- Make all your presentation materials accessible before the call. While it may sound simple, there have been countless times that we’ve been on sales calls where the rep is fumbling around looking for something that he wants to share. Just like you would in a face-to-face meeting, make sure you’ve got all your assets readily available that will help demonstrate and close the sale.
- Sales managers, you’ll need to remind your team of these things more than once. We’re all human, and it takes time to change behaviors. If your team is new to virtual selling, it would be good to have them do a few practice runs with you. As Samuel Johnson, an English author from the 18th century, said, “We often need to be reminded more than we need to be instructed.” Good leadership is found in redundant communication. When you start thinking everyone is getting it, that’s when you really need to keep communicating it.
Expect the unusual and remember patient communication is required.
Okay, so we’ve covered the basics of using technology effectively. Let’s look at coaching your remote sales team in effective virtual communication.
- Expect the unusual. An acquaintance of ours was on a video conference call with several decision-makers at the same time. During the process of the call, someone’s dog started barking. Suddenly, our acquaintance’s dog started barking, and then other dogs started barking. The entire group on the call began laughing hysterically, and it took a good 10 minutes for everyone to regroup. The meeting organizer ended up having to mute everyone until they could regather themselves for the call.
Fortunately, everyone was happy to get a bit of good cheer in their day and celebrate a truly human experience while working remotely. Keep in mind that many times your prospects will have hard stops for their meetings, and you won’t be able to lose ten minutes. However, don’t let the added stress of managing a remote sales team or selling virtually take you off of your “A” game. You’ve likely had success in the past, and you’ll just need to embrace those unexpected moments and carry on like a pro.
- Things will go wrong. Accept them and press on. Building on the last point, it’s worth reinforcing it as a tip itself. We recently had the experience of presenting to a large group of people with about 15 of us on the call. It included executives, managers, sales reps, and customer service folks that would be using our software.
We rehearsed the presentation virtually two times before, and we were well-prepared. Everyone knew their role, and our presentation was crisp. Unfortunately, technology just wouldn’t work for us during the presentation. Your composure in these situations, and how you respond to the situation, says a lot about your team to your prospects. We’re all selling and put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves to meet goals.
That pressure can sometimes get the best of you and cause you to react. In these situations, you’ll find it’s better to respond than to react.
- Patient communication is required. Your sales team is likely a group of high-energy and driven people who love to achieve a goal. Selling virtually can create some unusual challenges for sales professionals. Remind your team that not all wifi connections are equal.
Listening is an art. Listening well takes practice and discipline. Listening and speaking, while virtual selling requires patience.
Sometimes you’ll experience a lag in your communication and presentation. As you’re starting your presentation and pitch, be sure to ask your prospects if they are seeing your screen, and try to get a sense of whether it’s broadcasting in real-time. It’s good to test a few slides before you jump in.
Make sure people are done speaking before you jump in to make a point. This is easier to do in person. When selling virtually, you may need to have a bit of awkward silence to ensure that everyone is getting the opportunity to finish. Patience will go a long way, ensuring that everyone is not constantly apologizing for cutting one another off during the call. And let’s face it, some prospects just won’t be that patient with you.
Continue to instill the level of accountability for performance that you expect when working in the office.
Let’s remember you didn’t just start managing a sales team yesterday. You’re just managing the same team from a distance. The discipline of selling remains the same, whether you’re managing a sales team remotely or in the office.
- Dressing for performance makes a difference in your mindset. Working from home can take on a different look and feel. Let’s set the stage. You get up, and you throw on a pair of shorts and a collared shirt with a sport coat. Really? It’s game day, and you’re acting like something is entirely different. Don’t let your team lose its edge. Yes, work is demanding, yes, sometimes it gets tough to hear “no” one more time. The “uniform,” whatever it is in your culture, makes a difference and ensures your reps are keeping the professional mindset you’ve come to expect. As Vince Lombardi said, “Winning isn’t a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing that takes discipline.”
- Set expectations clearly and ensure your team knows what winning looks like. Your team should have all the tools they need to sell effectively in a virtual setting. Just because you’ve gone virtual doesn’t mean your expectations and goals should change. You still have to ensure everyone is generating the activity necessary to get to the right number of opportunities and closed deals. Nothing great was ever accomplished without discipline.
You’ve likely done a good job in the past of helping your sales team understand why they are doing what they are doing. If your team doesn’t clearly understand the mission and why you’re making some changes, you’ll likely see a decline in their performance. Salespeople can be skeptics, and they want the straightforward truth. They won’t always agree with why things are being done, but giving them the opportunity to voice their concerns develops trust. And trust is paramount to achieving your goals.
- Measure performance regularly. If your team hasn’t already adopted a sales engagement platform, it’s probably time to consider one. Visibility provides insight, and as a manager, insight helps you make better decisions for the good of the organization and your team.
Remember, selling virtually will take a bit of adaptation to gain proficiency in the nuances that online tools create. Using the tools effectively, preparing for the unexpected, remaining patient, and holding your remote sales team to the high standards they’ve come to expect are all part of the success equation. Remember, selling virtually will take a bit of adaptation to gain proficiency in the nuances that online tools create. Using the tools effectively, preparing for the unexpected, remaining patient, and holding your remote sales team to the high standards they’ve come to expect are all part of the success equation.
If you want to learn more about how Salesvue can help you seize more opportunities, request a personalized demo today, and get ready to take your sales to a whole new level. Salesvue will help you:
- Automate the entire sales process inside of Salesforce from prospecting to contract renewal.
- Systematize outbound prospecting cadences so sales reps know exactly who to call and when
- Track communications with customers and prospects
- Log sales calls, face-to-face meetings, and emails, with a single click
- Make sure that no lead or prospect goes untouched or falls off the radar
- Know how and when to best communicate with prospects through easy-to-understand reports
- Stay on top of your team’s productivity and performance
- Monitor rep phone calls and barge into calls in progress for training purposes and to help reps communicate messages clearly.
- Measure success rates based on a number of factors—from the campaign to the sales representative, the timing, the form of communication, and any other Salesforce data point
Salesvue is the world’s first Salesforce-native sales engagement platform. What does that mean? It means that it doesn’t merely integrate with Salesforce; it’s native to it. With Salesvue, your data never leaves Salesforce.com.
Salesvue is designed to improve an inside sales team’s productivity by delivering efficient communication, visibility, and accountability throughout the entire sales cycle and across the whole organization. Salesvue has rapidly become the solution of choice for America’s most prominent companies for one simple reason: Salesvue makes sales teams more productive.