by Wayne Turmel
What ever happened to meeting a client for coffee? These days it seems like it’s harder than ever to be a sales professional. Clients can screen our calls, send our emails to spam, and beat us up on price without ever having to look us in the eye. Sure, there are all kinds of tools and technology available, but can they replace good, old-fashioned salesmanship? No, but they can sure help.
Virtual demos. Skype calls. Screen sharing. CRM voodoo. A lot of technology feels dehumanizing. We take it as an article of faith that people do business when they know, like and trust us. How do we do that through a screen?
Here are three skillsets a modern sales person should master, why they matter, and how to get up to start using them.
Webcams. Stop whining and embrace them.
Okay, that was harsh, but seriously. We know that communication happens best when we can see the other person in real time and pick up the thousand subtle verbal, non-verbal and physical cues that help us understand others. That’s why nothing will ever replace face-to-face sales calls. Yes, the phone can help bridge distance but we are relying on a small set of cues to be effective. Webcams allow us to both see and hear the other person.
One very real problem is that most people hate using them. We like seeing others, but hate being on camera ourselves, and an uncomfortable sales person probably isn’t very effective. That’s why learning to use a webcam to conduct a sales call is an absolute must. The sooner your people get over the discomfort, the sooner they’ll reap the benefits of more effective communication.
Start by using webcams internally. When you meet with your sales manager or teammates, use the webcam. The first few times it will feel uncomfortable and weird, but eventually that will dissipate and it will become normal. Then offer to use it with your customers. About two years ago, I began setting each appointment by asking, “do you want to talk by phone or webcam?” While it was a rarity two years ago, over a third of my sales calls now are by webcam. Remember, many of your customers are already using these tools and you need to appear at least as technology-literate as they are or you’ll lose credibility.
Learn to make virtual sales demos more like traditional presentations.
Even if you don’t sell software, it’s becoming more common to use tools like Skype, Zoom or WebEx to do sales presentations when you can’t get face to face with your customers. The problem is that inexperienced presenters waste the opportunity to make these as effective as they should be.
A good sales call is interactive, more about the customer than the sales person, and moves the sale forward. Too often, online demos are boring, one-way, and ineffective. Over 70% of sales organizations don’t give their team training on good presentation techniques. If you’re going to have a tool, learn to maximize it.
Email can make or break a sales relationship.
If you got up in front of a client with a coffee stain on your shirt, mismatched socks and your hair on end, what impression would you make? With most clients today, the first introduction is often by email. Poor grammar, and ineffective tone, and rambling message is the equivalent of being at the front of the room with your fly down. It might not cost you the deal over time, but it sure puts you in a hole you’ll need to dig out of. When was the last time you got training or even feedback on the quality of your written communication?
If we learn to communicate as effectively online as we do when we are physically close to our customers, we will be infinitely more successful. Frankly, our jobs will be more pleasant and stress free as well.
Are you and the other sales people in your organization mastering these new, critical skills?
How do you know?
We’ve got a great course, Conducting Great Web Demos and Sales Calls that dives deeper into these skills. We can also adapt it to present to your entire sales team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.