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Virtual Selling: What Can Go Wrong?

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Feb 23, 2022

If you consider all the things that you do as a salesperson throughout the day, you’ll notice you spend a lot of time virtually prospecting, qualifying, closing, and building relationships.

But there is so much more involved in making effective virtual sales calls and interactions with your prospects than just using Zoom.


The short answer is this: Everything!

As I thought about this article, I thought about what was all included with virtual selling:

  • Marketing to new segments, verticals, individuals
  • Prospecting for additional business from current clients/portfolios/books of business
  • Following up on contacts initiated from social media or traditional networking
  • Conducting initial conversation live but not in person face-to-face
  • Qualifying discussions
  • Presentations and closing appointments
  • Use of video materials or other support content such as testimonials, case studies, and proof of concept reports.

But as I started my Google search for articles on the history of virtual selling, one of the hits was a link to a course offered by IMPACT – a virtual training company. Here is an excerpt from the page:

A couple of weeks ago, I set up an appointment with a rather large, well-known tax company. I went on their site ready to schedule my appointment and saw that I could either go in person, or I could do a virtual call. To start, they clearly laid out what I could expect and what I needed to do on the day of. When the meeting day rolled around, I checked my email to see if they sent a reminder of what I needed to do.


I then logged into the account I created where they said a button for a video call would show up.


I then called them and asked what I should be doing to make sure the video call works out and then proceeded to tell me that the tax preparer will call me right before because "he’s the only one in the office who knows how it works.” 

Long story short, I received the call and then proceeded to spend almost 30 minutes trying to get it to work (which it never did). What seemed like a seamless alternative to save time on my part turned into quite a frustrating, time-consuming debacle. 

This is why there is so much more to making virtual selling and interactions with your prospects than just using Zoom for your calls. 

So, what can go wrong? Everything. And that, understandably, is why you might hesitate or be resistant to move towards more virtual selling. 

There was probably a time when many of the things you do now were new to you, your industry, or your career. Believe it or not, there was a time when:

  • We didn’t use computers as a sales enablement tool
  • We certainly didn’t Google anything, use Facebook or LinkedIn
  • Emails were considered for internal use only and never, NEVER, would we communicate with a prospect or client via email
  • Using a tablet or mobile device was Sci-Fi
  • PowerPoint presentations were for those salespeople that couldn’t command the room or didn’t know their solutions well enough

My point here is that there was a time when you resisted, pushed back, or were hesitant to do something that you thought would take away from your traditional approach or thoughts about selling:

  • People do business with people they like
  • It’s important to have a firm handshake and look your prospect squarely in the eye
  • Selling is a face-to-face business
  • If I don’t’ get out and see my prospects, my competition will

But if you take a minute and consider all the things that you do, you’ll notice you spend a lot of time virtually prospecting, qualifying, closing, and relationship building.

Virtual communication can be defined as any communication that takes place without you physically being present with the person you are communicating with. If you don’t think you sell virtually today, or you don’t think you live in a virtual sales world, then take a look at your inbox and sent folder and your cell phone call log every day.

So, here is where I’ve landed:

  • Embrace the fact that you already have a sales practice that is highly virtual
  • Take time to understand how to become more effective in your current virtual communication methods  
    • Your body language, facial expressions, eye movement, and tone of voice all gets lost when you send an email
    • Much of the same is lost even on a phone call
    • Emails have to capture the reader’s attention just like a handshake, and eye contact does
    • When making phone calls, you have 5 seconds to capture the prospect's attention
  • Expand your current virtual communication to include video: Tips for better, more effective video meetings;
    • Duplicate the in-person experience as best you can
    • Let an expert run the backroom – set-up and running the meeting – so that you can focus on what you do best
    • Professional look and feel. You don’t have to be studio quality for most meetings but if you are presenting the deal that makes or breaks your year, and virtual is your best option, then put your best foot forward
    • Practice, practice, practice
    • Make sure your participants are prepared well in advance. Also, log-in for the meeting– especially first-time events – should be 10 to 15 minutes before starting the meeting
    • Have backup information clearly communicated. For example, if you run into problems, you will switch to a conference call

In closing, think about how much more you can get done, and how much more effective you can be if you didn’t have to get into a car for an hour each way for a meeting. Think about the flexibility it gives your client if there are people that can't make it into the office for the meeting but can now join virtually. Think about your ability to include more of the right people in meetings so that your sales process doesn’t get bogged down. Think about all the things you already do that are virtual and how you can improve your skills in those areas.

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Topics: virtual selling, virtual sales calls, virtual sales process


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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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