I’ve been searching for some marketing automation software to help supplement our company’s lead-generation efforts. My goal was to quickly evaluate vendors via a series of online meetings. Simple, no?
I called vendors to try to set up online/virtual demos. To my amazement, the salespeople quickly looked right through my request and asked for a meeting in our offices. Their preference was clearly to join me in person to demonstrate their on-demand applications.
It didn’t make much sense that in a hypercompetitive world, with super-aggressive quotas and limited time, a salesperson would choose to travel to my office instead of hosting a virtual demo. Did these vendors really think that coming to my office and shaking hands would increase their chances of closing the deal?
Intrigued, I decided to go with their flow and agreed to meet the salespeople in my office. After the meetings, it became very clear that these seasoned salespeople were simply more comfortable selling face to face than using a virtual demo. Clearly they aren’t using the new tools at their disposal to help them sell more effectively. Here are five tips that should help your sales team adjust to the new sales environment and enable them to close sales in the virtual space:
1) Familiarize yourself with the latest technologies. It takes just one online search to see how many types of applications exist to help you perfect your online sale. Take some time to play the part of the explorer to see if you find anything that can help. Who knows, perhaps you can alert your director of sales to something that could help the whole team. You’d help everybody beat his quota.
2) Become a superlative listener. You may not be able to see your online prospect, and you certainly won’t be able to read his body language as if you were in the same office. Therefore you must concentrate on refining your listening skills, because you will need to learn to pick up on certain subtleties in the tone of voice when your prospect asks questions or responds to one. Don’t jump the gun and start formulating answers before you hear out your prospect. You can gain great insight to his real needs while also differentiating the customer experience that you are providing. When potential clients get a true sense that they’re being heard, they will let their guard down. I know it’s tough, but resist the temptation to jump too quickly into your show and tell.
3) Understand your strengths and weaknesses in this new environment. Virtual demos equal the playing field in a lot of ways for salespeople. It certainly helps those salespeople who would normally lack confidence because they never felt that they “looked the part” of a successful salesperson; this new medium allows them to sell with the confidence of a Donald Trump. If you have a face for radio and a velvet voice, then the online/virtual space may be your perfect venue. It lets you focus your prospect’s attention on the services/products that you are selling, not on your choice of slacks.
4) Don’t force a face-to-face meeting if your prospect prefers to meet online. I could not believe how quickly the salespeople bypassed my request. I was wondering if they even heard it, so I made sure to mention it again. I was greeted with the same response: “What time would you like me to come over?” Scheduling a face-to-face always requires more coordination, and people are busy these days. It’s much easier for us to jump into an online meeting than to entertain vendors in our office. You may think that visiting a client shows how much you care about his business, but the buyer knows that the same goal can be accomplished online. Insisting on a face-to-face could be perceived as applying unnecessary pressure.
5) Put your money where your mouth is in the ultimate show of confidence. If you contend that your application is easy to use, then don’t hesitate to demo it online. Make the online demo your first option. Explain to your prospect that by doing a virtual demo you’re saving him time. You’ll showcase how great your application is, and you’ll give the buyer a little extra confidence, as he’ll be learning the new application without anybody leaning over their shoulder–and we all hate the shoulder hanger!
The Internet has changed business and personal dynamics in ways that could never have been imagined. It is your job to keep up and to perform well in the new sales environment, wherever that may be. We’re already starting to use virtual worlds such as Second Life to sell products and services. So adapt or perish.
Orly Mager is the marketing director for Saratoga Systems, a provider of CRM solutions, and its Apresta wireless division.