Virtual selling is the new norm, but initiating sales conversations in a virtual environment is not simply doing what you’re used to doing face to face in front of a webcam. To deliver skillful and efficient virtual sales conversations, sellers must embrace a new paradigm and let go of the old ways.
It is true that building trust in person triggers the release of Oxytocin, dubbed the “Moral Molecule,” which makes people more trustworthy, generous, charitable, and compassionate. However, virtual sellers can’t play off hormones and chemistry to form connections, so they must work harder to build trust, create value, and win sales!
Here are eight paradigm shifts I outlined that transform traditional sellers into virtual sellers.
Old paradigm: Sellers look around the room, take in nonverbal cues about their audience’s engagement or interest, and adjust accordingly to add the most value. And as we’ve learned throughout the pandemic, there are a lot of invisible particles floating around between people. While those particles can be problematic in terms of illness, they can actually help sellers build rapport and trust through touch and smell!
Virtual paradigm: Chemistry is out of the picture (no pun intended!), so sellers need to build trust through listening, reliability, preparedness, and an appropriate virtual presence. I recently had a meeting with someone that looked like this on their video. LOL.
That does not build trust!
Old paradigm: Stakeholders can be spread across offices or locations, making getting everyone in the same room challenging.
Virtual paradigm: Online meetings make it easy for decision-makers and experts to get involved and join in on sales conversations – from wherever they are.
Old paradigm: Time together is fluid when meeting in person. If the prospect is interested, it’s easier to keep the sales conversation going to address all of their questions and concerns – and build rapport.
Virtual paradigm: In a virtual meeting, the time is usually predetermined in 15, 30, 60, or 90-minute increments. There’s a hard start and end.
Old paradigm: Body language and movement make it easier to grab, hold, and keep the customer’s attention. It’s hard to ignore a person in front of you!
Virtual paradigm: To capture attention and increase engagement, sellers must change the emotional state of the conversation, similar to using music in movies to convey different feelings. Online tools and interactions help incorporate the five senses and eliminate distractions.
5. The Commute
Old paradigm: The car ride provides time to reflect, supercharge your emotional state, and plan your day. You might listen to music, a podcast, or check in with a teammate. When you arrive at the office, you enter your work world separate from your personal world.
Virtual paradigm: Your commute might be to your home office, a corner of your bedroom, or the outside deck if you’re lucky. Give yourself time to transition from your personal life to your professional life. Create a dedicated workspace. If available, choose a separate room as a dedicated workspace far from the kitchen and laundry room and any other attention temptation. Then, you can close the door to keep business in and family, friends, and pets out. (Unless your cat helps you work and enjoys appearing on virtual calls. 🐈)
Old paradigm: Because humans want to check things off their to-do list, we often find ourselves busy for the sake of being busy. When at the office, your co-workers keep you in the work mindset and help you focus on priorities.
Virtual paradigm: Sellers are easily distracted and tend to multitask more from home. Neuroscientists tell us when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. Ironically, multitasking makes us demonstrably less efficient. Create space in between your sales calls. Psychologists, lawyers, and accountants often book fifty-minute appointments, which gives them ten minutes in between engagements to jot down notes while thoughts are fresh.
7. Dress for Success
Old paradigm: The classic suit or business-casual attire shows colleagues and customers you mean business. More importantly, it shifts your mindset to one of, “I mean business.”
Virtual paradigm: Like Superman entering a phone booth, you should prepare yourself for business whether you’re on virtual calls or not. Yes, you can have what I call “a party without pants,” or dress from the top-up. The important thing is to create a clear transition from the personal to the professional world, so you look and feel the part.
8. The Water Cooler
Old paradigm: Serendipity occurs in the office, allowing for chance meetings with colleagues from different departments. We discuss the latest episode of Ted Lasso, share news of our children and perhaps exchange ideas for new projects.
Virtual paradigm: Employees can feel isolated without both planned and spontaneous interactions. Plan to meet new people via Zoom: Arrange happy hours, bagels, and coffee, share pictures, introduce children and pets.
Transforming from traditional to virtual selling requires a different approach, but top sellers will master virtual relationship development, no doubt! Since many in-person sales conversations are poorly designed from the onset, the door is wide open for modernization and improvement.