This global pandemic has forced many CSOs to broadly pilot virtual selling. This may have seemed crazy pre-pandemic, but CSOs are compelled to adapt and find new ways to drive sales. Unfortunately, early anecdotes suggest that while sellers are busy, success metrics are mixed. Where some might have previously seen virtual selling as a recovery strategy, many CSOs are reconsidering this moment as the entry into the era of virtual selling.
While we are still in the nascent days, CSOs should take deliberate action to improve virtual selling execution. Even as economies slowly open up, fears of financial or health regression are having an enduring impact on commercial engagements. CSOs must recognize that what is feasible may not be desirable — from both the sellers’ and buyers’ perspective. Just because travel restrictions or advisories are lifted does not mean that:
- Sellers are comfortable traveling
- Buyers have returned to the office and are ready to welcome visitors
- Travel expenses provide a good return on investment
CSOs should follow these three recommendations:
Change the Sellers Mindset
We are all getting used to working from home and during the early days of COVID-19, many were exceedingly tolerant of how sellers have been displaced. Now that some time has passed, CSOs should remind sellers that these are professional conversations. Most sellers would never go into a customer’s workplace wearing a t-shirt and hat, yet some are having on-camera commercial conversations with this level of casual attire.
Credibility is still key. Sellers should look the part and be able to fluidly navigate the new web conferencing tools. Other tactical tips include:
- Dial into the web conference a few minutes early
- Try to control your background
- Look into your camera to connect with your audience
Setup Sellers for Success
CSOs have acknowledged that they have reduced their expenses as a result of limited T&E. It may be time to redeploy those savings to setup sellers for success. While sellers may need to change their mindset, CSOs need to invest in the sellers’ ability to execute.
Many sellers are leaning on their laptop cameras and microphones along with the headphones that came with their mobile devices. Yes – this works. However, these are the minimally viable options. If you want your sellers to stand out, set them up with the proper hardware to have professional conversations.
Create a Platform to Crowdsource Ideas
Sellers are at the forefront of engaging buyers through virtual interactions. As with any significant shift, there will be early winners who figure out the virtual selling best practices. CSOs should codify these practices in the first draft of a virtual sales playbook.
It’s not just about creating a playbook though. An internal collaborative platform should allow all sellers to ask questions, share ideas and celebrate success stories. All sellers – and frontline managers – should be learning from each other.
Many CSOs have taken a reactive approach to manage through this global pandemic. However, to quickly progress through the virtual selling learning curve, these proactive steps will establish a foundation to build on for long-term success.
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