With the future still uncertain of when we will return to in-person meetings, it’s vital to ensure your business continues to adapt to alternative virtual selling methods. As you continue to conduct your conversations with customers remotely, using effective technology is more critical now than ever in order to engage fully with customers. Although it may not feel the same as selling in person, with the correct technology, virtual selling can be just as effective.
As we continue to adapt to this shift with customer interaction, which is believed to continue long after the current pandemic passes, it’s important than ever for organizations to help their sales team succeed when in-office support and in-person customer meetings aren’t viable options. With technology continuously improving & changing every year, which tools can we use best to keep in contact with current customers, or sell our services to new customers?
To ensure your virtual communications are effective, here are five tips to achieve favorable outcomes for your remote sales team:
1. Identify A Video-Based Platform That Works For Your Business
A video call is the best way to virtually communicate, and is the closest interaction you can have with your customers right now. A very popular, and easy to use video conferencing software is Zoom. With Zoom you can easily set up and schedule video meetings with customers where they can see your product videos, proposals, and presentation and gives you the opportunity to answer any questions in order to close the deal! Along with being able to video chat, you can also record your sessions which will allow you to easily reference anything that was discussed. Users can find beginning training videos on YouTube:
The service is free for the first 40 minutes, so if your business has a 30-minute customer pitch this might be an ideal platform. If you need more than 40 minutes, you can upgrade to the Pro version for just $14.99/mo. Other free video conferencing services include WebEx, Skype, Jitsi, and RingCentral. Each has its pros and cons, which you can find here. Additional fee-based video conferencing is also available with GoToMeeting and Team by Microsoft, these could be a good consideration for larger sales teams.
2. Take Advantage of Google’s Features
An alternative to visiting your customer’s home for measurements is by using Google Earth. Google Earth allows you to survey an area online in order to get a rough estimate of their yard size and dimensions, which is an essential tool for your business right now. This also gives you the opportunity to further prepare your quote based on the estimated job size. Keep in mind to let your customers know your quote is based on an estimated measurement and may change if the actual job size is a different measurement.
Also, in order to gather information from your customer about what they’re looking for, or to gather additional information, use Google Forms. Google Forms allows you to streamline the process of collecting necessary information from your customers. It helps your business list out any questions you may need to have answered, and stores your customer’s responses into a spreadsheet.
Another option for virtual meetings is Google Hangouts. With Google Hangouts you can easily share information, demos, and training with your potential audience. You can also use promotional material specially tailored for Google Hangouts.
The final tool that we really like from Google is the Google Calendar. Once you have finalized a date and time for a virtual customer meeting, send a reminder for their (and your) calendar using Google Calendar. The great part of Google Calendar is it allows you to have multiple calendars in one place, think personal and work—so you never miss a meeting.
3. Utilize Manufacturer e-Learning & Website Tools
If you haven’t done so already, utilize manufacturer e-learning for knowledge transfer and to be able to build content for your video-based presentation. Several manufacturers offer contractors free online training modules or knowledge resource centers. Better yet, you can access high-resolution photos, videos, brochures and catalogs. These can all be downloaded and emailed to your customer before or after the meeting. Below are two of our manufacturing partners that offer excellent training opportunities and resource centers:
- Hunter/FX – Hunter has done an incredible job with the number of courses on irrigation and lighting that are available online. They offer online learning delivered via courses, videos/streaming content, tutorials and resources, testing, user Q&A and is available to anyone with access to a computer. Hunter offers a variety of training opportunities that can be completed any time of day at your own pace, from installation and troubleshooting to water conservation, operations efficiency or selling tools.Hunter has a ton of resources available online from My List for creating custom product lists for specific jobs to calculators for drip pipe. Check their resources here.
- Rain Bird Knowledge Center – If you already have a Rain Bird Rewards Account, use the same “User Name and Password” that you use to log-in to Rain Bird Rewards. (No need to create a new account). Skip the registration step and go directly to the “Please Log In” button. In the Knowledge Center access Catalogs, Support Manuals, Design Resources, and more. Better yet, Rain Bird recently launched a mobile Resources App that allows you to access all of this information from your mobile device.
4. Professional Proposals
We’ve discussed the importance of branding for your business, now more than ever having a professional appearance is critical. Empower your sales team to engage customers with a professional proposal that will ensure your company stays ahead of the competition. Hunter’s SiteRec App is a powerful resource that helps you organize and suggest irrigation product upgrades and system recommendations to your customers.
It is effective in allowing your business to add branding to your presentations. Simply add your company logo, photo, and details for a customized, presentation that can then be emailed directly to the customer or reviewed on a video call. Upsell with good/better/best comparison charts and built in videos.
This app is very helpful, and easy to use directly from your iPad. Ask your Central Representative to schedule a demo of this product plus you can check out a SiteRec overview here.
5. Prioritize Sales Coaching
As your sales team continues to work remotely, coaching is essential to ensure successful outcomes with your customers. Ongoing coaching not only helps turn mid performers into top sellers, it demonstrates your organizations commitment to employee success. Sites like Dale Carnegie offer no or low cost sales training to help your team get an edge not only for selling but specifically for presenting virtually.
It can still be a challenge learning or adjusting to virtual selling. Although you and your team may be used to face-to-face meetings and informal one-on-ones, a remote sales force means managers must prioritize coaching by leveraging available technology. Communication is important whether your sellers are getting it in person, or via video.
Finally, rely on Central to help, whether it’s questions about sales strategy and technology, marketing planning, strategic purchasing, or business planning during COVID-19. Central is the right partner for your business. We stay at the leading edge of the industry and we’re ready to help you grow!