In a landmark research study, HubSpot put it simply: “Sales leaders who did not invest in remote selling [during the pandemic] fell behind.”
Indeed, 64% of teams who transitioned to virtual sales (or a hybrid model) during the pandemic met or exceeded their revenue targets. By comparison, just 50% of those who did not change their sales practices hit their numbers.
If you’re not adapting, you’re falling behind.
According to Marcus Sheridan, it’s all about focusing on the opportunities afforded by the new medium:
“You can deliver incredible value for your customers in a virtual sales process, the biggest of which are frequency and speed,” Marcus says. “You can get back to a prospect much more quickly and you can have more touchpoints.”
But business leaders can’t just expect these things to happen. Sales reps need to be trained. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of costly trial and error.
If success depends on training, then choosing the right training partner is crucial. In order for virtual sales training to be impactful, it needs to have six things. Keep them in mind as you look at your options.
An all-day training session sounds great, but there are some serious drawbacks to putting all of your training in a single basket, so to speak.
Instead, look for training that offers multiple shorter sessions. If you really want your team to adopt new techniques and strategies, they will need to keep practicing and getting feedback.
This can’t happen in a single day.
Most virtual sales training focuses too heavily on technology. Sure, you need some familiarity with the platforms you’ll be using, but that should only take up about 10% of instruction.
Rather, virtual sales training needs to focus on the skills and best practices that build connection, establish trust, play to the strengths of the medium, and make your clients feel comfortable.
The finer points of Zoom can be covered in a video on YouTube. Virtual Sales training is best optimized when it’s focused on people and processes, not the platforms.
One of the incredible benefits of virtual selling is the ability to record all sales calls. But this only pays dividends when used properly.
Call recordings allow for the most accurate feedback and self-reflection possible. Sales training should take advantage of this. The instructors can provide feedback on actual sales calls, which makes the training extremely valuable to every attendee.
Without this kind of specific, real-world feedback, it’s impossible to judge exactly how (or if) the training is making a difference in the day-to-day work of the sales team.
What’s more, recordings can show progress. Compare your week one call to your week six call. Notice how much more effectively you're putting your learning into action.
When you mention role-plays, you’re sure to get a lot of eye-rolling. It’s true that not many people like role-plays — but it’s also true that role-plays work. According to Marcus, “If you can do things well with your team watching you, when you meet with a client, everything gets easier.”
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. When you’re learning new techniques, there are going to be inevitable slip-ups. No doubt you’d rather have those happen in training sessions than with clients.
When they’re done well, role-plays are invaluable skill-building tools. The more reps you can get to prepare for a given situation, the more comfortable you’ll be when you get there.
It’s just like with athletes. Professional athletes are so skilled because they’ve gotten in so many reps for any given situation. A famous viral video showed NBA star Steph Curry hitting 105 straight three-pointers in practice, all from the same spot on the floor. Shot after shot after shot.
Each practice shot is a kind of role-play (shooting without defense, without a crowd, always with a pass from the same spot). When it’s time to take that shot in a game, he’s ready.
Curry is a career 43% three-point shooter — probably the best the game has ever seen. He’s so good because of the practice he gets.
It’s always harder in an actual game situation (he’s not going to hit 105 straight shots in a game). But practice is what gets you better.
To truly master virtual sales, you can’t ignore the other parts of the sales process that lead up to a meeting.
A troubling truth about modern sales teams is that very few of them have been trained to write prospecting emails.
Today, inboxes are more flooded than ever, so prospecting over email has become extremely difficult.
Data shows that small tweaks to emails — from subject lines to message copy — can have huge effects on open rates and click-through rates.
For many of your customers, their buying experience starts with an email. You need to make sure you’re creating the right experience from the get-go so they feel valued and understood.
You need to think of your sales process as one cohesive journey, from initial contact to a closed deal. With that mindset, you start to really see how email marketing is a core part of your sales process, virtual or otherwise.
All too often, sales training ends and its effect quickly dissipates. A few weeks later, there are no vestiges of the training you spent so much money on.
Training is only valuable if it has a lasting effect on your company and your culture. The trainers need to create scaffolding that allows for continued learning after the end of the session.
If the training incorporates specific feedback on sales calls, it’s easy to continue this process after the training wraps up.
Once teams see the value of giving and getting feedback on sales call recordings — and once they’ve practiced doing so — they can easily implement this process into their professional development.
In most companies, sales reps will have one-on-one meetings with the director of sales once or twice a month. At these meetings, they should plan to review one recent sales call, with the structure established during their training.
According to Marcus, this helps create a culture of feedback and development.
This way, the investment in training continues to pay dividends long after it’s complete.