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6 tips for building trust and winning sales in a virtual environment

When it comes to conducting a sales meeting over Zoom or Teams, the same principles apply: be approachable, build trust and authority, nurture the relationships, be relevant, and listen for the information your prospect is providing. However, being online feels different and can leave some sales professionals with varying results. Here are our observations on why we think this happens, and some virtual selling tips to ensure you can still nail your targets, even if you’re operating in a virtual world.

1. Preparation is key

Maybe because it feels as though things are slightly less personal than if we were meeting in person, it seems more common for salespeople to fail to prepare for an online meeting. It might be because they see themselves as having the information ‘at their fingertips’ but even a small amount of time spent searching for a document or a website will leave your counterpart feeling a little left out. Much better to stick with eye contact and undivided attention and have your facts listed or printed before the meeting starts.

2. Remember: brevity and impact

person bored during a virtual sales call

In virtual settings, it’s crucial to recognise the need for shorter, focused interactions that keep participants engaged. In-person meetings used to be given more time and commonly had buffer zones, but now it’s more common for people to book back-to-back meetings. This means you need to develop a concise and impactful virtual presentation that captures attention right from the start.

3. Researching shows respect

Doing your homework in terms of understanding who you are meeting with shows attention to detail and is the start of making someone feel valued. In a similar vein to the above point, it’s a positive move to have already looked people up and worked out their individual personality so you can tailor your approach. You might not get quite as much information through the screen as you do when you enter a room and shake someone’s hand so spend some time finding out what you can about them. You’re saving the commute so put that time to good use!

4. Present your best self

There are many jokes made about business dress being important from the waist up and people knocking around in their tracksuit bottoms or even pyjamas when zooming but, for many of us, how we look can inform how we feel. If you want to close a sale, confidence is key so dress to impress, whether your counterpart can see you or not. It’s important to bring the right energy to an online meeting when selling virtually, and being smart in appearance is a huge part of that. Act as you would if you were meeting in person.

5. Use the tools available

microphone used at a home office desk for making better sales calls

If you want to share some extra information, use the chat function to share links which back up your discussions. It’s a nice touch to pop links in to save people having to search online after the meeting, especially if you’re screen sharing. They might want to look again in slower time at what you’ve presented. It’s also worth considering any extra kit you might need, such as lighting or a decent microphone. Some laptops and room setups just don’t make for a good online experience. If you need to, invest in specialist equipment (which definitely doesn’t have to cost the earth these days) so that people can see and hear you clearly.

6. Facilitate larger groups

Final virtual selling tip: if you instigated the call, take the time to make sure everyone on it gets introduced at the start. Some will play a more observational role which is fine but if they’ve not been introduced, this can feel awkward for those who don’t know why they’re there. Either give everyone a quick rundown of who’s attending and why or let them do it themselves. If you’ve got more than 5 people online, consider setting some groundrules at the start, especially if the meeting is likely to be busy and energetic. Ask people to mute when they’re not speaking to lessen background noise and consider using the ‘raise hand’ function to ensure no-one gets talked over.

To conclude…

There’s probably nothing surprising in these virtual selling tips here but the frequency with which people overlook some of these basics means they are all worth reiterating.

If your organisation is suffering problems with closing sales, it could be that the hybrid approach with more online meetings is resulting in the sales approach being too informal. Preparation is key and feeling confident will mean your people come across as confident and capable.

These things may be small but they could be the difference between a deal or no deal.

More? Read our tips on how to engage your most experienced sales veterans here. Overview of selected sales improvement programmes here.


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