Updated: Apr 15, 2021
The world drastically changed in 2020 and so did the way we do business. Gone are the days of in-person networking events where a friend introduced you to your next prospect. Just over a year ago networking involved getting to know each other over a cup of coffee, a cocktail or at any number of venues where networking was the whole reason you attended. But events over the past year have drastically changed all of that. Businesses have become increasingly virtual, with at least 42% of today’s workforce now working from home.
And the future is virtual. As more and more businesses announce that their physical spaces are closing, home offices are becoming permanent. As of 2020 research by Gartner, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now digital and 75% of late-stage prospects receive a personalized video before completing their transaction.
The economic and social climate has all forced this enormous uptick in the virtual space and the changes are here to stay. So now that the trade shows and travel budgets have all but disappeared, sales teams have struggled to adapt in this new environment.
At Hueya, we train hundreds of corporate Sales & Marketing teams on how to navigate and excel in the virtual space and these are the most common sales fails we have seen, and what to do instead:
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Fail #1: Having a Social Profile that Isn’t Updated
Sales professionals can no longer overachieve their sales quotas without a social media profile. With everything going virtual, you must both have a social profile and keep it updated with your current company, position and the latest news related to your business. Considering that the buyer’s journey is now primarily a digital one, they are researching before they purchase and if you are selling them a product or service, then you are part of their research.
How can you correct this epic fail?
1. Identify which social platform your client is likely to use.
2. Research your competitor’s social profiles to get some ideas of what works for your customer.
3. Create a warm, engaging social profile that positions you as a thought leader in your space.
Fail #2: Simply Don’t Know How to Prospect Virtually
The biggest challenge for many Sales professionals is knowing how to prospect. Virtual selling can be intimidating if you were never a fan of social media, or if you have only ever used social media passively and personally. Now, more than ever, is the time to make a shift in this approach. Social media is a powerful business tool for identifying and qualifying prospects.
Now that you have created and/or identified your social selling platforms, it is time to start reaching out to your contacts. Begin with people you know and let them know what you are currently working on. Openly engage in conversations that will help you identify the customers pain points, so that you can tailor your offer to their needs.
Once you have gotten comfortable contacting familiar faces, start broadening your reach by asking for introductions to their contacts. You can search your connection’s network for potential clients and begin to engage with them. As a final step, expand your reach to new, unknown contacts that fit your ideal customer profile.
Fail #3: Make the Offer Before the Prospect is Warm
Many believe that prospecting, or “Social Selling” is the process of contacting people you have identified as prospects on LinkedIn or Facebook and giving them your offer right away. The reality is that the process is more complex than that. There is a Virtual Sales Cycle that our top sellers leverage as a proven strategy behind social selling. This is the process of nurturing your potential customers. Through this process they will come to rely on you as a resource for helpful information and trust in your capabilities as provider:
1. Consistently post industry-related articles from reputable sources, ideally your company’s. This is how you gain visibility and credibility in your area of expertise.
2. Share free resources and tools related to your product or service, that genuinely brings value.
3. Consider conducting a “Free” educational webinar and invite them to join, with no commitments.
Fail #4: Talk Only About the Offer
One of the absolute, most important parts of Social Selling, is Social Listening. In today’s digital environment, everything has been written down and is stored in some forum, chat, post, blog or other digital format. It is critical that you take the time to research what your potential customers have been saying about your product or service and that you understand their pain points. That is the first part of Social Listening.
The second part is to listen to your customer. Once you have engaged in a dialogue, be sure to ask them specific questions about their business. Get to know what keeps them up at night and the biggest challenges there are facing. Ask the strategic questions you would ask at a live event and be sure to do it in a way that is constructive to building the case for your offer.
Fail #5: Forget to Follow Up
Social Selling is much more distracting than any other form of selling, because of short amount of time you must reach your prospect and the competition for their time. Once you have begun, even the smallest dialogue with your prospect, you must continue to follow up. If the lead is warm, ask for a video chat right away. If you are engaging with a cold lead, you may need to nurture them for a few weeks before asking for the video call. But be sure to ask for the call. As you reach out to multiple people and receive varied responses, keep track of those that you promised to reconnect. Reach back out to them within a reasonable amount of time to continue to build the relationship and eventually convert them to customers.
When leveraged correctly, virtual selling can be far more effective than any other form of selling. It is possible to build even stronger relationships with customers, by becoming more approachable and addressing the challenges they are facing, real time.
Need help ensuring that your sales team does not make these fails? Click here to learn more about our Virtual Sales Mastery course.
At Hueya, we are committed to preparing sales teams for the evolving social selling environment, while building the sales, leadership and data analytics necessary to achieve digital success in today’s virtual landscape. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your organization. firstname.lastname@example.org