One of the professions that’s seen the most pandemic upheaval due to COVID-19 is outside sales. Sellers who typically meet with clients and customers face-to-face have been forced to sell remotely. And this can be a difficult adjustment to make.
And while many cities are starting to relax their self-quarantine mandates, things won’t be completely normal again for quite some time. So being able to adapt is essential.
Fortunately, by leveraging a few inside sales best practices, outside sales reps can successfully pivot to remote sales. Keep reading to learn how!
Reshaping Your Sales Process
Ready to reshape your sales process, implement a few proven remote sales techniques, and become a remote sales expert?
We’re going to walk you through five of the most important inside sales practices you need to develop to succeed in today’s remote selling environment. Prepare to develop a multichannel communication strategy, use automation to follow up with clients, invest in video conferencing tools, brush up on your phone skills, and reacquaint yourself with your CRM.
Let’s dive in.
Develop a Multi-channel Communication Strategy
A multi-channel communication strategy is exactly what it sounds like — using more than one communication channel to speak with and engage potential customers. For inside sales, this often includes calling, texting, emailing, or using social media.
Using several layers of communication yields big results. In fact, 80% of high-growth sales development organizations rely on a multi-touch sales strategy for exactly this reason.
Calling your prospects
Sellers have been using phones to drum up sales for decades. Why? Because phones give you access to just about anyone, anywhere. Plus, most people are addicted to their phones, which means they’re almost always reachable via this channel.
Unlike the other channels we’ll look at, calling your prospect also allows you to get an immediate response, better address objections, and provide a completely personalized experience.
We’ll talk more about sales call techniques later in this post.
Texting your prospects
Many sellers are now using text messages to reach and stay in contact with their leads. It’s a great communication channel because, again, your target market almost always has their phones near them.
Additionally, texting is less intrusive because it allows them to decide if and when they respond. But don’t worry. That doesn’t mean you’re wasting your time. Text messages are opened and read 138% more than emails, and they have a response rate that’s 8x higher than emails too!
Emailing your prospects
Texting may have higher open and response rates than email, but that doesn’t mean this old school communication channel is obsolete, far from it. Email is a fantastic way to reach your target market, especially if you operate in the B2B world.
With email, you’ll be able to clearly and concisely share your message, while still allowing your leads to decide if and when they want to engage with you. That’s why 8 out of 10 prospects claim email as their favorite communication channel for dealing with sales reps.
Benefits of a Multi-channel Communication Strategy
These are just a few of the channels you can add to your communication strategy. Now let’s talk about why you should actually take the time to use them.
By engaging with your prospects in a variety of ways, across multiple channels, you’ll experience three main benefits.
Better Customer Engagement: Not every customer wants to talk to sales reps on the phone. Some prefer email, and others enjoy text messages.
By communicating with them in a variety of ways, you ensure each of your leads is getting the experience they prefer. And that will lead to higher engagement levels.
Increased Visibility: Your target audience is busy. Your sales emails could get buried beneath a mountain of other messages. Your calls may go straight to voicemail.
If you contact your prospects in multiple ways, you’ll make yourself more memorable and increase the likelihood of your leads responding to your outreach efforts.
Increased Customer Loyalty: Using multiple communication channels increases customer loyalty. Because your prospects will grow to like you more if you contact them the way they prefer, and by appearing in their inboxes, text messages, and voicemails, you’ll always be top of mind.
While it may seem like a lot of work to use and monitor multiple communication channels, the higher sales and revenue numbers you achieve will more than make up for it.
Use Automation to Follow Up
In the past, most of your time was spent interacting with customers face-to-face. This kind of selling makes developing relationships easy. But, if we’re being honest, it’s not the most efficient way to sell products or services.
Remote sellers have the advantage of using technology to automate follow up messages with ease. Rather than physically traveling to meet your prospects, you can trigger emails and texts to be sent at specific times — while you focus on other tasks — increasing productivity.
AI tools can also be used to automate other aspects of the sales process. For example, responses to your prospecting emails can automatically trigger a tool like Zapier to scrape information and put it into your CRM of choice.
66% of the average seller’s time is spent on non-selling activities like data entry. Imagine how many more hours you’ll have to close deals when these tasks are handled by robots!
Invest in Video Conference Tools
Remote selling, by definition, means not interacting with your target market face-to-face. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still see your customers while you make your pitches. Video conferencing solutions like Zoom, Skype, and Highfive help you recapture the human element of sales and effectively demo products for potential buyers.
That being said, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when hosting a virtual meeting.
Maintain Professionalism: It should go without saying, but you should maintain a high level of professionalism during the video conferences you host. It can be easy to let your standards down a bit when working remotely.
Don’t let this happen — at least not while on a video conference.
This means wearing appropriate attire, being nice and groomed (no crazy bed head or unkempt beards), ensuring your environment is free of clutter and distractions, and otherwise treating the meeting the same as you would an in-person one.
Personalize Each Meeting: Just like face-to-face meetings, a sales meeting hosted via video conference should be personalized to the specific prospect you’re talking to.
What industry are they in?
Which product features are most enticing to them?
How soon are they hoping to make a purchase?
If you can find these kinds of details out before your call, you’ll plan a more effective video conference that’s tailored to your prospect’s specific needs.
Make Time For Questions: It’s important to include a Q&A session at the end of your virtual meetings. It can feel awkward to ask questions in the middle of a presentation — especially when the presentation is hosted via video conference, and communication isn’t as streamlined.
Because of this, you should always leave time at the end of your call to answer any questions your prospect might have.
Follow Up Via Email: Lastly, it’s important to follow up. Send a recap email after your virtual conference is over. That way, your prospect has a written document they can refer back to during the buying process.
Your email should go over the main details covered during your video conference. Most likely, this will include important features and pricing information.
As a reminder, video conferencing tools are great for better connecting with your current customers without meeting them in person. Use video to check in on customers so you can strengthen the relationship there. This is important because it costs five times more to secure a new customer than it does to keep a current one.
Brush-up on Your Phone Skills
Many of your leads won’t be interested in video conferencing. Which means you’ll still use your phone to connect with most prospects. And if you’re used to selling in person, it might be necessary to brush up on your phone skills — especially since you won’t be able to see the non-verbal cues you’ve become so skilled at reading.
Fortunately, proper phone etiquette and presence isn’t difficult:
Create a Call Script: What are you going to say to your prospect when you get them on the phone? If you’re not sure, create a script that you can reference during your call.
Your script should include a short, concise sentence regarding the reason for your call, a sentence or two addressing the benefit(s) your prospect will experience by talking with you, and a personal element that’s customized to each prospect.
Practice Before You Call: It’s always a good idea to run through your script and practice answering potential questions before you jump on an actual call with a prospect.
This helps you grow more comfortable with the process and allows you to evaluate things like you’re talking too fast, your vocal tone, and your clarity. Always aim for a consistent pace, confident tone, and complete clarity.
Nail Your Timing: When you call is almost as important as what you say once you have a prospect on the other end of the line. In general, the best time to make sales calls is on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 6:45 and 9:00 am or 4:00 and 6:00 pm.
Don’t Give Up: It takes an average of 18 calls to actually connect with a buyer. If you give up after the first or second attempt, you won’t make many sales. So strap in for the long haul and plan to follow up. Repeatedly.
The CRM: An Old Foe is Now Your Best Friend
If you’re like most outside sales professionals, you hate CRM software. We get it, CRM tools require you to do extra work and manually record each interaction you had during the day.
But now that you’re working from a remote office of some kind and not going door-to-door, recording data in your CRM of choice is easy. It takes just a few clicks of your mouse, and all of the important information will be logged automatically!
Here are a few of the advantages of a quality CRM:
Better Lead Management: Now that you’ll be communicating with your leads in multiple ways, manually keeping track of each interaction will be more difficult.
Fortunately, CRMs allow you to easily manage your prospects by cataloging each one’s stage in the buyer’s journey. You’ll also be able to accurately segment your leads and ensure each is properly engaged.
Centralized Data: Once you update a contact in your company’s CRM of choice, your whole sales team will have access to the new information. This allows for easy collaboration across your entire organization. Team members won’t have to waste time searching for past details because they’ll be present inside the CRM they already use.
Automation Capabilities: Automation is another major benefit of CRM software. Boost productivity by automatically collecting and entering prospect data into your company’s database.
You can also use CRM automation capabilities to remind you to follow up with prospects at optimum times to increase conversion rates.
Pipeline Visualization: CRM software makes it easy to view your entire pipeline. Being able to see your sales pipeline visually can be very helpful and allow you to identify problem areas. When you can see which stage(s) are proving to be roadblocks for your prospects, you can optimize and improve.
Reports and Analytics: Lastly, CRM software makes sales process optimization much easier and more effective. You simply have to generate a report to get a complete bird’s eye view of your team’s sales efforts.
How far are you from your monthly quotas? Your CRM will tell you exactly where you stand with the click of a button.
The Future of Outside Sales
It’s clear that outside sellers need to learn a few remote selling tactics to succeed in the near future. By developing a multi-channel communication strategy, automating follow-ups, investing in video conferencing tools, and the like, you’ll increase your reach and efficiency dramatically.
Taking a few pages out of the remote seller’s playbook does NOT mean completely throwing out your own, though. As an outside seller, you have one distinct advantage — your ability to relate to other humans and develop relationships.
This skill will benefit you no matter what kind of selling you do! If you can combine a few remote sales techniques with your natural relationship-building abilities, you’ll be a rockstar salesperson for the foreseeable future, guaranteed.