Since the WHO declared Covid-19 as a pandemic, many organizations have asked us: How are we supposed to sell our manufacturing products remotely? Consider this the first installment of a series opportunistically named “How to sell your manufacturing products remotely”
Recently, Tacton CPQ was named a Visionary in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CPQ Application Suites, and as such, we wanted to give you some practical tips that any team selling complex-configurable products can implement today to get the most out of their remote sales meeting.
1) It’s an opportunity to build Stronger Customer Relationships
Misconception to avoid: Video calls are “distant”, and therefore also creates distance in your customer’s relationships.
Anyone working in B2B sales understands that building strong customer relationships is the key to success. For the past couple of years, we’ve been hearing how “vulnerability” and “empathy” have empowered business leaders to make better decisions and strengthen their business relationships. The current global crisis, halting business-as-usual, offers us a chance to put business aside and take a moment to listen to our customers’ issues, empathize with their situation and offer guidance.
For this, it is important to remain authentic and not ask if you are not willing to truly listen. This is an opportunity to set aside the frantic pace of sales, and use the time for other less urgent matters. The whole world is slowing down, so turn this to an advantage.
2) Don’t downplay video calls – Embrace them
Misconception to avoid: Everyone sees video calls as a poor substitute. No one is “happy” about meeting on a video call.
We know how face-to-face meetings are (almost) always preferred, and there is just no substitute for speaking with someone who is right in front of you. Video conference call is the next best thing. Not a phone call, but a video call with a camera pointed at you.
Depending on your personality, you may feel the need to start by politely apologizing for “meeting this way”. By beginning your conversation with an apology, you are already setting a negative undertone to the meeting.
Instead, seek to fully embrace the medium and play on its advantages. Video calls can help you communicate clearly and asking direct questions that require a bit of time to respond. In a video call, you can easily take a few more seconds to respond without making it awkward. Your answers might become better structured and complete than ever before.
3) Enlist behind-the-scenes help
Misconception to avoid: You must host the conversation alone, and you should be able to handle it on your own.
Maintaining the focus on the meeting and making sure that you communicate effectively requires large amounts of your limited attentional bandwidth. According to studies cited in the book “Hyperfocus” by Chris Bailey, on average we possess just enough attention to hold a conversation and carry out 1 other routine task (like walking, running, or listening to music).
However, when one of these items is new to us (like meeting a customer for the first time or having to use video calls while searching for files on the computer), our brains maximizes the attention span to the new task at the expense of everything else (i.e. at the expense of the attention you give your customer).
The way to help you cope with this lack of attentional focus is to outsource some of that mental bandwidth. You can enlist the help of a fellow colleague during the call, that can help you with presenting the visuals, and having other relevant information at hand while you focus on the call. This person does not have to be formally introduced and can operate in the background as a helping hand. This will allow you to be more present and therefore ensure that you accomplish your goals for the call.
If you think that you cannot ask for help, think again. Team members are usually most likely to help if you ask. If no one volunteers, offer to return the favor to one of your fellow sales team members.
4) Use Visuals and Additional Materials
Misconception to avoid: You don’t have any quality images or visuals to show. These are just a distraction.
Studies show that on average, your customers will retain only 10% of the information presented in a sales meeting. However, when presenters use visuals (such as images or video), audiences are able to retain an average of 43% of the information. The fact that 65% of people are visual learners might have something to do with it. Here is a visual that drives the point home:
If you don’t have any images or visuals, think again. Nowadays you can ask your marketing team, your product designers, etc, to share some relevant images.
If images for the actual products are not available, how about similar products? Have you reached out to your happy customers for images of your products?
Perhaps you may already have some images you took with your phone. Those are as good as any, and by showing them from your phone, it shows that you are dedicated and resourceful.
5) Don’t go at it alone, Invite others to join you
Misconception to avoid: Remote sales meetings are no place for anyone else other than the sales rep. Having more people on the call can deter the quality of the call.
Normally it’s not possible to bring your sales engineers or product manufacturers with you to sales meetings. However, since you will all be joining remotely, you can easily ask a product manager or sales engineer to tag-along on your sales call.
What would have been strange to invite someone to join by conference call, does no longer seem out of place. This can signal to your customer that you are willing to invest time and resources on them, given them the chance to get technical if they so wish. It also enables your customers to get some technical answers in real-time, which can drive them down the sales funnel.
We hope these practical tips can help you and your sales teams to make use of their limited time with your customers.
We wouldn’t be named Visionary without offering you a realistic vision of what remote selling looks like for our happy customers. To get a preview of what this looks like, check out this short video below.