Virtual selling isn’t a new concept or idea – many people think this kind of sales strategy started because of the global pandemic since everything was shut down, but the concept of virtual selling has been around for far longer, it’s just never been considered a necessity until the world shutdown.
We’ve all had to adapt to what we consider to be our ‘new reality, right? This also applies to the way we shop now. While you can still go into stores and do your shopping, there are so many people who still don’t feel comfortable, or don’t see the need to go in-person shopping. In fact, 71% of consumers say that do their shopping fully online now, which has greatly increased due to the current situation. Only 27% of consumers said they did their shipping online before the pandemic – an increase of 44% since the beginning of 2019 in the US.
Table of Contents
- Create a professional-looking video virtual office
- Use visuals as often as possible
- Make sure there are no distractions
- Invest in the proper tools needed to sell
- Updated and professional website
- Create a digital marketing plan
- Explore new ways to reach potential customers
- Create a great virtual selling process
- Use touchpoints to increase engagement
- Track your sales metrics
The term virtual selling refers to different processes and technologies used by sales representatives to communicate with potential customers and engage with them fully online. While this strategy is still new, it is widely used by businesses that are fully online stores. For example, there are so many different online clothing boutiques that have never had a physical store, and when you click onto the store’s website, you may be greeted by an automatic response from a sales rep asking if you need help shopping.
Virtual selling is different than Direct to Consumer selling in that direct-to-consumer companies were always designed to sell directly to the consumer, it’s a part of their strategy. On the other hand, Virtual Selling is a strategy that almost any company can adopt to increase sales whether they are a local brick and mortar store or a larger business. Consumers have gotten much more comfortable shopping from their couches and virtual selling allows any business with a website to offer products and services directly, in addition to their regular sale channels.
This kind of sales strategy ensures customers’ health safety, but the biggest benefit to this kind of sales strategy is that it allowed so many businesses to continue making sales and profits during the situation. Some shop owners don’t think this kind of sales strategy is sustainable, scalable, or cost-effective, but virtual selling has been proven to help increase and continue sales no matter what life throws at the business world.
Virtual selling uses technologies like phone, texts, emails, or video conferencing such as Zoom meetings, Skype, or Google Meets. Virtual selling uses these technologies to their advantage to sell to potential or current customers from anywhere in the world so their products aren’t just available to those in their local area.
Let’s discuss further what makes virtual selling work, how it disrupts the traditional sales channels, and how you can be successful in navigating the world of virtual selling.
Virtual sounds pretty easy – but it is far from being easy. Virtual selling takes a lot more effort than traditional sales channels do since you have to go out and connect, engage with, and convert potential customers. With virtual selling, customers aren’t walking into your store and looking around your shop – you have to go out and find consumers who are looking for what you offer, and you have to convince them of why they should choose you and your shop.
As a virtual selling sales rep, you need to focus on things like body language and physical/emotional cues if you are talking to a potential customer either over the phone or through video conferencing. You also need to be a great listener and communicate with them more than you would need to in person. Virtual selling is sure to bring your sales skills to an entirely new level. That being said, here are some ways you can succeed in virtual selling:
In virtual selling, the thing your customers will see and notice is the environment around you or behind you. If you use Zoom for your virtual selling, you need to ensure you have a professional and clean-looking background. No piles of clothes on the floors, no papers thrown all over the place, and definitely no clutter in your background. Use an aesthetically pleasing background like an organized bookshelf or decorative art pieces to show your customers that you are a professional and successful at virtual selling.
Another important thing to perfect when virtual selling is your lighting. We all know that lighting is the key to high-quality content, and the same goes for your video conference calls. If you spend your day on Zoom or Google Meets calls talking to potential customers, if your lighting is dark and gloomy, they are far less likely to continue working with you or purchasing from you.
Your camera position and appearance are equally important as well. You don’t want to just be a floating head, do you? Make sure your camera is positioned properly so your customer can see you at eye level. If you are in the industry of virtual selling, it’s most likely the only top half of your body in the camera, so make sure you are dressed professionally and properly for your customer calls. Appearance is everything in virtual selling!
It’s no secret that all humans have short attention spans these days. If we aren’t interested in something within the first couple of minutes or even seconds, we’ve already moved on to the next thing. If you are virtual selling, it’s important to use as many creative visuals as possible. While only 39% of consumers say that using interactive storytelling or visuals is effective in encouraging them to make a purchase, visuals still make a difference in their overall experience.
More people have been working at home now more than ever, so they understand that life is still going on and distractions or interruptions may happen. Most consumers are understanding of that, but it’s important to keep those distractions at bay when possible. Dogs barking, kids crying or screaming, or someone in your family asking where something is – if you experience these things, it’s best to close your office door and put up a sign that says you are on a call.
When it comes to virtual selling, it’s important to have the proper tools in your tool kit. Things like Zoom, Calendly, Salesforce, etc. will all make the virtual selling process much easier and more effective for you, the sales rep, and it will give the buyer a professional experience that is easy on their end – encouraging them to come back for more.
It sounds like everything about virtual selling is great, doesn’t it? While virtual selling has become a necessity for so many businesses across the world, it has posed some serious threats to the traditional sales channels.
When it comes to discussing how virtual selling has disrupted the traditional sales channels, we want to break it down into two categories: challenges for the virtual sellers, and the virtual consumers. Let’s get into it.
1. Attention and engagement
One of the biggest issues with virtual selling on the seller’s end is finding creative ways to keep customers attention and encourage them to engage with you. When working in a virtual setting, it’s so much easier to lose your buyer’s attention, and if you do lose it, it’s hard to get back. It’s been proven that using technology is a good way to keep buyers’ attention and using interactive tools such as Zoom chat helps to get the most out of your time in virtual selling.
2. Problem-solving with customers
When you are working with a customer inside your store, it’s easy to problem solve because you can sit and discuss the customer’s wants and needs, and show them around your store and show them their different options. If they aren’t happy with the first solution to their problem, you can just walk them to the next solution and explain it to them and they can see the products for themselves. Since virtual selling doesn’t allow buyers to physically touch or see the different options, problem-solving with customers can be a bit difficult.
3. Relationship creation and development
88% of virtual selling reps said that creating and developing relationships virtually is a huge challenge for them. When talking online with someone, the breaks in conversation aren’t as natural and no side conversations are happening. With virtual selling, there is less time for personal check-ins and conversations, meaning you don’t get to know your customers as much as you would in a traditional sales channel.
1. Communicating wants, needs, and concerns
When you’re shopping in a physical store, it’s easy to explain to someone exactly what you are looking for. You can explain what you need, and they will show you options, and based on what you’ve shown, they can filter their choices by the information you provide. With virtual selling, that isn’t as easy.
Let’s explain this with an example – say you are looking for a dress for a wedding. You have a certain style in mind, so you go online and connect with a virtual selling rep. You describe what you want, but since you aren’t actually in the store trying the different options on, you can’t really determine if what they are showing you would work for you or not. Virtual selling makes communicating a consumer’s needs, wants, and concerns since they aren’t actually in the storefront.
2. Listening to customers
It’s been studied that 68% of consumers based their purchase decisions on how well the sales rep listens to them. When talking through text, email, phone, or through a video conferencing platform, virtual selling reps may not be totally tuned in to what the customer is saying.
3. Education about products and their value
People work hard for their money and they want to make sure they spend it wisely. No matter what they are shopping for, they want to be educated on the product before they spend their money on it, and they want to know what value this product is going to add to their lives. Virtual selling has created a threat to this aspect of shopping since virtual sales reps may not focus on the education piece of their sales as much as they sell themselves.
There are many positives and negatives that come along with the word of virtual selling. If you aren’t used to virtual selling but you need to start incorporating it into your sales strategy, here are our tips for navigating the disruptions that virtual selling will bring to your sales strategy.
When it comes to navigating the disruptions that virtual selling has brought onto your sales strategy, there are so many tips and techniques to help you become successful in virtual selling. If you’re looking to upgrade your virtual selling practices and need some creative techniques, these are our tips for navigating these virtual selling disruptions:
Your website is your landing page for everything about your business, and it’s your one chance to capture potential customers. If you have a beautifully and professionally designed website that is attention-grabbing and easy to navigate, you already hooked your viewers. If your website takes a long time to load and the wording is difficult to follow and it’s hard to navigate to your different pages, you’ve already lost that customer.
If you are new to virtual selling, you need to update your website and explain how the process works and how a potential customer can get started with one of your virtual selling reps. When it comes to your website, you want less content with more meaning!
You’re probably used to creating your marketing plan, but if you are new to virtual selling, you may have never needed to create a digital marketing plan. It’s important to create a digital marketing plan in addition to your traditional one so you and your team can know exactly what to expect and you’ll determine your different policies, procedures, metrics, etc.
Virtual selling has created the need to find new and creative ways to prospect new customers. How do you get into their inboxes? Their newsfeeds? How do you get them to book a video call with you? How can you stand out against the crowd? You need to find new ways to get in front of your target audience and how to make it personal and memorable for them. You need to show them how much value you and your products will add to their lives, and make it so they remember you when they are ready to make a purchase.
Your sales funnel in virtual selling is going to be a lot different than it would in a traditional sales channel. What is the process your buyers will go through? How will you build a relationship with potential customers? How will you push your sales pitch to them? How will you educate them? You’ll need to determine and test your virtual selling sales funnel so you can ensure you are effective before launching.
In virtual selling, it’s much harder to get potential customers to remember you. Gone are the days of stopping in for coffee or dropping in to say hi to a store owner. You need to increase and upgrade your virtual selling touchpoints This is connecting with your customers by sending them a text to check in, calling and leaving a voicemail, or sending them any documents that you think might be useful for their needs and wants. You always want it to feel like you are reaching out to help them, not to sell to them.
When it comes to sales, the best way to measure success is to track numbers. Your numbers are crucial to determining if what you are doing is working, and if you don’t have metrics to track, you can’t measure your success. You want to track how long your sales cycle is, how many opportunities you have, how close you are to your goal, and how much revenue you are gaining from each customer.
These are all ways to navigate the disruptions that virtual selling has brought into the world. The more popular virtual selling becomes, the more business owners need to learn how to navigate the constant changes that are to come.
While virtual selling has been around for quite some time now, it’s a selling technique that is here to stay. Virtual selling has posed a lot of different complications on traditional sales channels, but is it for the better?
In a recent study, it was noted that 80% of consumers would prefer to shop online and interact with a virtual selling rep. Virtual selling has changed the way we browse for new products, how we interact with companies’ sales teams, and most importantly, it has changed purchasing behaviors. Virtual selling isn’t going anywhere, so it’s time to embrace it and find creative ways to become successful virtual selling representatives and serve customers with nothing but the best virtual selling experiences.
About the Author
For over 25 years, Jay Sung has been a passionate leader in driving sustainable growth through direct-to-consumer, e-commerce, and customer acquisition strategies. Mr. Sung oversees corporate branding and growth initiatives utilizing a continuously evolving toolkit of digital marketing strategies and technologies to drive innovative direct marketing programs for portfolio companies – from startups to Fortune 500 organizations.
Previously, Mr. Sung served as the Chief Marketing Officer for Guthy-Renker, a $1.3 billion industry leader in the direct-to-consumer health and beauty market. He is best known for developing consumer acquisition and marketing strategies for leading brands such as Meaningful Beauty® with Cindy Crawford, Wen® Haircare by Chaz Dean, IT Cosmetics™, and many others. In addition, he served as the CEO of such well-known brands as The Proactiv Company and Lot18.
Mr. Sung lives in Los Angeles, enjoying all Southern California has to offer. You’ll frequently find him reading the latest business journal, cooking, or practicing the piano to relax. Mr. Sung earned his Bachelor of Science degree in economics with a double concentration in marketing and accounting from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.