Virtual Selling Strategies: How to equip your team in rapidly evolving conditions
Economic conditions continue to change due to rises in global health concerns, and as a result, sales professionals are increasingly challenged. Positioning a sales team to become more effective and productive amid changing business conditions means deploying a remote sales training solution that equips them to provide more value and superior personalized customer experiences.
In 2019, more than 50% of employees globally worked outside their main offices more than one-third of the time, and this number was projected to grow exponentially in 2020 (International Workplace Group). While virtual work has been accelerated due to covid-19, this change is likely not just for the short term as many organizations have implemented long term, remote-working options for employees. The nature of sales interactions for many industries will likely see lasting effects. For example, the pharma industry is seeing dramatic changes in its interactions with HCPs. Currently, HCPs see an average of 1 rep per month and 38% have eliminated seeing reps at all (IPSOS). Likewise, other industries including financial services and hospitality are continuing to see dramatic transformations. Reps will need to adapt their virtual selling strategies to deliver a better buying experience that differentiates them from the competition.
So how do you stand out? What is your virtual strategy to connect with customers in a meaningful and productive way?
Focus on content improvement
An increase in virtual work comes with an increase in digital engagement. Make sure you are delivering crisp, valuable, and eye-appealing content.
Studies have consistently shown that utilizing images, videos, and/or interactive content boosts engagement and increases positive outcomes (Snap, Hubspot).
In the pharmaceutical industry, a recent report by IPSOS demonstrated that eDetail effectiveness was most impacted by the quality of the eDetail, not how it was initiated or the method of interaction. eDetails resulted in more effective outcomes when they contained:
- Clinical trial results (9% more effective)
- New information (7% more effective when new information relevant to the customer’s needs was provided)
- Video (8% more effective)
Provide value first
As more and more content is pushed our way, we need to be able to immediately identify the purpose and value. SiriusDecisions reported that 82% of B2B buyers make purchases based on experience, ahead of price and product. Value and reputations have become key relationship currency.
To ensure remote sellers have direct, customized messaging, employees must thoroughly understand customers and their needs.
Spend time researching market trends to understand influencing factors, priorities, and concerns. In addition, utilize analytical tools to see which pieces of content resonate with buyers and track their levels of interest. Email opens, content views, downloads and forwards all help your remote sellers understand which interactions are most effective and enable them to personalize follow-up communications that match buyer priorities and deliver a better buying experience.
Most importantly, encourage reflection and feedback discussions with remote selling teams.
Recognize: What are the emerging trends?
Respond: How do we respond to customer inquiries and concerns? How do we respond to change?
Reassure: What steps are we taking to reassure our customers about our products?
Not only should interactions be relevant, they should also be relatable and conversational. To do this, focus on upskilling your team in effective communication and skills of human engagement (emotional intelligence, active listening, problem-solving). With an increase in digital and automated environments, there is an increased desire for human connection and superior customer experience. However, a study by PWC showed that 40% of CEOs reported they would need significant retraining/upskilling to close skills gaps underscoring that while soft skills are in high demand, these are often the most difficult to acquire. Thus, it’s no surprise that soft skills POWER skills are consistently ranked in the top 5 capabilities needed by the modern workforce (IBM).
Power skills are what allow employees to adapt, learn, and communicate effectively and these will empower organizations to thrive moving forward. Interestingly, the two newest waves of generations of in the workforce have the largest soft skills gap, though they are the most adaptable to change and learning. (Gen-Z and Millennials, Gallup, SHRM) In contrast, older generations have more experience in soft skill development, yet are traditionally resistant to change. In Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey, 86% of respondents said that they must reinvent their ability to learn. Thus, organizations will need to deliver personalized learning opportunities to effectively upskill their workforce.
So what should we do differently? We need to provide opportunities to develop and hone soft skills. Leaders can push this beyond eLearning courses and provide interactive brainstorm sessions where employees discuss the possible uses for various soft skills. You can incorporate role playing scenarios to explore different situational outcomes. Knowledge acquisition followed by discussion and application strengthens transfer and memory pathways ultimately increasing retention of key information by 146%. (Karpicke and Blunt)
Bottom line, if you want to ensure your remote sellers deliver exceptional experiences pair insights with effective communication and put value at the center of your virtual selling strategy.
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