The old distinction between “field sales” and “inside sales” is an increasingly irrelevant one. Today, the most effective and productive sales teams see themselves as remote sales professionals. This is also sometimes known as virtual selling…but whatever you call it, it’s a central requirement of success in most markets.
Remote selling leverages modern communication technology, allowing salespeople to build and sustain relationships with buyers using multiple platforms (for instance, LinkedIn, videoconference, and personal text message), often with no physical meeting at all. The most effective organizations have mastered selling remotely and have done so for decades. Here are six common, unfounded myths that many sales professionals still hold about selling remotely – and the reality behind each one that we see being embraced by top sales teams in an increasingly virtual selling environment.
Myth #1: Remote Selling Is a Result of the Pandemic, and Will Recede in Importance When Things Go “Back to Normal.” Fact: The trend toward virtual contact with and support of customers was intensifying before the global pandemic, and it will continue to intensify regardless of what happens with the virus. Remote selling will be the dominant mode of professional selling for the foreseeable future.
Myth #2: The Most Important Business Is Done in Person, and It Typically Involves Heavy Socializing. Fact: In the vast majority of cases, you don’t have to physically meet, or take people out to dinner, or entertain them, to win deals. Sure: your clients like you, and if you end up becoming friends and socializing together, that’s fine. But it makes sense to begin with the assumption that their time is precious, just like yours, and that, all other things being equal, they would rather be spending time with their family during off-hours than with you. So: Set and take part in remote meetings that are scheduled as part of the working day. Stick to business. And respect their private time.
Myth #3: Videoconferencing is Optional. Fact: Most buyers are now comfortable with videoconferencing and expect to be invited to log into video sessions. If you don’t propose this as your meeting default, or feel comfortable leading a video discussion, you are, in all likelihood, putting yourself and your organization at a major professional disadvantage.
Myth #4: A Great PowerPoint Drives Great Videoconferencing. Fact: “Share Screen” is not the solution to every problem; all too often, it shuts down dialogue. Your remote discussions should be less about displaying and talking about the perfect PowerPoint…and more about engaging participants in a meaningful real-time discussion. Use your chosen video platform to pose good questions, start good conversations, and practice active listening. If 90 seconds go by and you don’t hear anything, assume there’s a problem! Set expectations on the front end of the meeting that you will be pulling people into the conversation. For example: “Throughout the call today I’m going to be presenting some information, but I’m also going to be stopping along the way to get feedback. By the way: If I am moving in the wrong direction, please let me know. And if you feel like we’ve covered enough on a given topic, please let me know that too. Deal?”
Myth #5: A Remote Meeting Isn’t as Focused as a Face-to-Face Meeting. Fact: This is entirely a function of who is leading the meeting, how well it has been set up, and whether there is a next step strategy in place. Physical presence has nothing to do with it. To get better at nailing the next step, every time, download and use Sandler’s Pre-Call Planner before your next remote meeting.
Myth #6: Remote Selling Is a Junior Role – Something Less Experienced Salespeople Do. Fact: Regardless of your age or your level of experience in sales, remote selling needs to be a major part of your skill set. Not making it a priority means you are giving the competition a head start. It’s that simple!
Virtual selling is nothing new. It has been around for years. What’s happening now is that more and more sales teams are getting good at it! By moving past the six myths we’ve just shared and adopting the best practices that connect to the facts behind each myth, you can position yourself, your team, and your organization for sustainable success.