Companies around the globe experienced a sudden digital transformation because of COVID-19. As teams transitioned to working from home, every sales rep became a “virtual seller”. 

LinkedIn reports show that sales organisations are quickly embracing the “new normal”:  

  • 77% are holding more video meetings
  • 51% are sending more emails  
  • 57% are making more phone calls

But what does this really mean for sales?

Many well-established businesses used to have most of their processes in person, often making the most of events and tradeshows. In addition, successful enterprise teams take time to develop and train until they produce results. How does that translate to purely digital? 

There are a few key elements to keep in mind in order to face the new challenges for sales. Let’s break them down.

Not business as usual

It’s crucial to start with the right mindset. Think about creating a work culture that encourages collaboration and support among your team. Leaders need to help sales reps be prepared, and have all the information and resources they need. 

Tiffani Bova, Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, lists empathy as one of the key elements to sell from home. This applies to your team, but also for your prospects and leads. It means to truly try to understand what everyone is going through.

Solutions instead of pitches

When developing new and nurturing existing relationships, we need to identify how we can help our clients and add real value under the crisis. Some deals will definitely make sense to move forward, while other items may not.

As Brynne Tillman from Social Sales Link explains: “Pivot. Find out what your clients need now. Their current state is very different than 8 weeks ago, figure out how you can be a resource for them now, and they will do business with you when the time is right!”. 

Lead a conversation where you can truly help the prospect explore all aspects of their situation, and help them rethink their strategy. Provide data so that the client makes informed decisions, based on quantifiable information.

Listening is vital to achieving this. Sales reps that listen are more successful, and the right solution comes from a customer-centric approach.

Making the most of video calls

Active listening and empathy need to be present in the most popular communication channel under COVID-19: video calls.

A few simple tips, like remembering to introduce everyone and turning your camera on (so many salespeople don’t), can make these conversations more efficient. 

This is also a chance to get creative. For example, some teams now send food delivery gift cards to invite prospects to a “virtual lunch”, while others have branded promotional packages with items to equip a home office delivered when scheduling a call. 

Whichever strategy your team comes up with, the idea is not to make a virtual version of a face-to-face action, but rather embrace a remote mindset. This can be as simple as to call to check how your clients are doing, or hosting a Q&A session for their team. The dynamic should make the prospect feel comfortable and, most of all, heard. Rather than just scheduling an online demo, be available for a conversation.

Finding the right tools for virtual selling

Sales reps are already familiar with the tools they normally need to reach their targets. However, as plans are re-prioritized, this might be the time to allocate time to test and develop new processes that can continue after the pandemic.

There are many options for sales engagement tools, like MixMax, Mailshake or Outreach. Your team probably knows CRMs like Salesforce or HubSpot, or even Freshsales, Insightly or Zoho

To make the most of what you already have, work with the IT department in your company and focus on integration with other apps, like work management ones as Trello or communication tools like Slack.

Pay special attention to integrations that could work with email and phone, as reps are heavily relying on that. Tools like SendinBlue and Aircall could help improve prospecting processes on those channels.

Discuss as a team where the pain points are, and then work on improving processes and tools with a clear goal. 

Connecting through LinkedIn

When it comes to nurturing relationships, social media has been delivering great results for quite a while. Under this new scenario, using LinkedIn to find and connect with prospects and clients has never been more valuable.

LinkedIn has a few recommendations for virtual sales prospecting: 

  • Create a strong professional brand by participating actively with posts, articles and engaging in conversations around your industry.
  • ABC: Always Be Connecting. Build trusted relationships by expanding your network 
  • Asking insightful questions and focus on the right people to prospect smarter 

Time to adapt and innovate

Instead of holding to the processes that you had before COVID-19, take the chance to innovate and create a healthy and sustainable digital workspace for your team. As we navigate through this crisis, sales, leaders and buyers are learning to adapt together.

Those who embrace the new challenges are the ones who are thriving. Eventually, business will recover. The key is what your team will learn now that will help them come out of this wiser and stronger.