At Myagi, we love selling via video call. Our team is based across 3 continents and our customers stretch even further, so we’re used to travel being unviable when it comes to arranging sales meetings. As COVID-19 has halted in-person meetings and international travel, we’re seeing more companies question the necessity of booking flights and hotels to conduct meetings that can be successfully carried out remotely, realising that technology can breach many of the obstacles that lockdown has created for businesses.
I want to help sales reps and account managers adapt to the post-COVID world, so I’ve written this guide as a starting point to help us all think about how we can adapt and learn new skills.
Setting the Scene
The first thing to consider is how to get current and potential customers comfortable with doing business in a new way. Recent circumstances may have made them more open to video calls, but it’s still important to talk to customers about how you plan to carry out business with them online. This can include scheduling a regular review call, pre-agreeing to a schedule for sell-in calls, and/or outlining what digital tools would be used, including how and why to use them. Make sure the tools – whether it’s video calling software, digital workbooks or a platform like Myagi – are easy to use and clearly beneficial to the customer.
Sales reps should think of themselves as a digital coach, guiding customers through the process of adopting online tools and getting the most out of them. Many retail professionals are nervous about technology, but they are aware that industries are changing and they want to learn. Make the process smooth by using the right software for the task at hand and making it easy for customers to adopt. Become familiar with the programs you’ll share so you can feel confident explaining them and using them as part of the sales process and beyond.
Next to consider is what these tools will be. Figure out the logistics of the call and what needs to be put in place. Tools to aid the booking process are extremely useful to remove friction and avoid missed calls—especially important as no-shows take a serious hit on productivity. Tools like Calendly integrate with your calendar apps to make it easy to find mutually-available times and send invitations and reminders. Calendly also integrates with conference call software like Zoom to link invitations, even providing invitees with instructions on how to join the call. If customers will need to access another program or resource during the meeting, make sure everyone involved knows how to access it and is prepared prior to the call date.
Tip: Don’t book sales calls back-to-back. When marking the meeting in your own calendar, add 30 minutes after the call to write up notes and follow-up tasks, send emails and action anything else that should be done straight away. One bonus of video calls is that you can be much more organised from your desk than when you’re travelling.
As the day of your video meeting nears, make sure you have prepared an agenda and shared it with the invitees. A great asset to include alongside the agenda is instructions on how to use your nominated video call software, for example; Zoom has a youtube video showing how to join a meeting that we send in preparation for meetings with new clients, if they aren’t familiar with the program. It’s also worth asking what equipment they will use to join the call. Retail owners often have quite outdated PC’s in the back office that don’t have a webcam or mic. However, it is likely they will have an iPad or smartphone, which can make it easier to join video calls using an app version of the software, so you can be confident the mic and camera will connect.
The day before the call is scheduled, make a brief phone call or send a text to remind the customer of the appointment, mentioning the agenda and any other necessary preparations. Making a reminder call and ensuring the customer is still available helps further protect against no-shows and late starts that can otherwise be common with online meetings, disrupting efficiency. Another way to help avoid no-shows is to set up automatic reminder emails through a tool like Calendly.
Before the call itself, prepare assets for screen-sharing by getting any documents, websites or programs opened to the right page. Don’t create awkward silence waiting for screens to load or documents to be tracked down—having everything lined up feels much more professional.
Selling Via Video Call
It’s more difficult to build a rapport online than in person, so reps should avoid the temptation of jumping straight into the agenda. Spend the first 10 minutes of calls catching up personally with the customer and showing interest before beginning the presentation. This is relevant now more than ever. Ask them how they are but in a way that elicits more than just “I’m fine thanks.”
During the call, try to be as personal as possible to build the natural connection that online calls can diminish. Do this by un-sharing your screen when you have stopped presenting, so it feels like a face-to-face discussion and making “eye contact” by looking at the camera to demonstrate that you’re paying attention.
It’s important to keep the energy high in calls to further breach the digital barrier and make your enthusiasm visible through the screen. This can be achieved with an engaging tone of voice and body language, making use of the limited space visible through the webcam by using your hands expressively (within reason). One way to kill the energy of a meeting is by dominating the discussion and keeping the customer in listening mode the majority of the time. By asking questions to get them speaking for 75% of the call and only taking 25% to pitch, the customer will be more engaged and the rep won’t have to carry the energy of the whole conversation.
In terms of sales strategy during the meeting, your regular sales methodology should apply to video calls in the same way it works for face-to-face meetings. It’s extremely beneficial for reps to be trained in sales techniques and to follow a chosen methodology that applies to your product, industry and business goals. At Myagi, we create our own call strategies and sequences in alignment with a sales methodology relevant to SaaS sales, and develop them as a team.
A useful feature of video calls is the ability to record, which allows sales calls to be reviewed by the team and used for training and development, as well as a reference for note-taking. It’s important to ask the invitee if they’re okay with the call being recorded, preferably before the call explaining that it’s for notes and training purposes, so they don’t feel like it’s a surprise question. Reviewing sales calls as a team is a great way to refine sales processes, improve skills and share tips and strategies for different situations.
At the end of the meeting, it’s absolutely key to agree on action points: any follow-up tasks, ‘homework’ or contacts to be made by either party, so everyone knows what is expected of each other to move the process forward and prepare for the next call.
- Get sales teams to use the same technology (i.e: software, headsets)—this makes trouble-shooting and developing procedures easier.
- Become familiar with the technology in order to solve problems and help customers—avoidable tech issues during calls are frustrating.
- Make sure staff have a stable internet connection and devices with enough processing power to run smoothly while screen-sharing programs during video calls.
- Being at home isn’t a reason to be unprofessional—wear suitable clothing and have a nice background. If staff don’t have an appropriate area of their home to conduct video calls, branded exhibition pop-up banners or other types of temporary screens can be set up to create a professional-looking environment for meetings.
If you’re a sales leader then many of your team members will be quite scared about doing business in this way, and you yourself might also feel quite uncomfortable. It’s really important that you actively guide your team to build the skills they need to adapt to this new way of selling. Create a workshop or feedback session so you can establish a safe space to discuss the challenges of selling virtually.
Selling virtually is a skill, and like any other skill it needs to be learned, developed and maintained. I believe it will become one of the most important skills a salesperson can have, so don’t avoid it or assume it’s the same as selling face-to-face, as this will leave you ill-equipped to hit results and continue building meaningful relationships with customers.