Four questions leaders should ask about virtual selling

COVID-19’s impact on society has been astounding. The effect on business to business (B2B) sales is transformational. Google the term “virtual selling,” and a seemingly endless list is returned.

One question that I am repeatedly asked is; Whether the current focus on virtual selling will endure post-COVID? The research is revealing:

  • Nearly 8 out of 10 B2B firms plan to maintain their shift to a virtual sales model post-COVID.
  • Two out of three B2B decision-makers believe new virtual selling models are more effective than traditional selling methods.

What is Virtual Selling?
Let’s begin by defining virtual selling. Sean Campbell, CEO of Cascade Insights, a B2B market research firm has a definition, that is simple and to the point, “How to get a PO (purchase order) without being there.”

The impact of the coronavirus on B2B sales is significant, substantial, and permanent. COVID did not initiate the changes. It did dramatically accelerate underlying trends. Think of it as a perfect storm as COVID collided with:

  •  The consumerization of B2B sales
  •  Shifting buyer preferences
  •  Declining buyer preference for face-to-face sales calls
  • The transformation of sales forces

The result was a warp-speed shift to virtual selling. Let’s be clear. We are not saying that virtual selling will eliminate the need for in-person meetings. But, it will forever change the way that salespeople interact with their customers. As a result, 96% of sales teams have already adopted some form of virtual selling. The challenge is that virtual selling is more difficult than face-to-face selling so, salespeople struggle.

Can Your Team Succeed Selling Virtually?

Leaders can quickly assess their team’s likelihood of succeeding in the virtual selling world by answering four questions.

  1. Can and will your sellers adapt to virtual selling? Embracing a new selling model in a tough economy requires a lot of grit. Desire, commitment, outlook, personal responsibility, motivation all need to be strong. This is a threshold question that must be answered before you do anything else.
  2. Do they have the “right stuff” to execute a virtual selling strategy? Virtual selling requires a lot of positive Sales DNA. If your sellers have it, great! If not, the weaknesses will sabotage their virtual selling efforts unless you identify and fix them.
  3. Do their selling skills support virtual sales? Virtual selling favors consultative sellers who can address customers’ business issues with insights that will improve their business. Relationship-centric sellers will struggle because virtual selling is not conducive to the slap-on-the-back selling style. Does your sales team embrace and practice consultative selling over relationship selling?
  4. Are they suited for working remotely? Some sellers are ideally suited for working remotely. Others are not. The three of the key attributes of working remotely are: being a self-starter, ability to work independently, comfort working without supervision.

The most successful business begin by measuring their team’s ability to sell virtually. Next, they train hard to close gaps and build on strengths. Finally, they coach relentlessly.

Albert Einstien summed up our present situation perfectly. “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

The COVID induced changes have certainly brought their share of challenges. You also have a unique opportunity to begin the sales transformation process.

Jim Peduto, Esq., CBSE

Jim Peduto is the Managing Partner and the co-founder of Knowledgeworx, LLC.  Jim combines practical insight and big data to help CEOs and owners transform their businesses.