It’s a New Year, but most organizations are still looking at the same view—a computer screen filled with the faces of teammates, customers and prospects. And while there’s just no denying that the pandemic accelerated an already-in-motion shift to remote work, it’s becoming more and more important for organizations to be able to train and coach their sellers to succeed in a more long-term virtual environment.
Remote, or virtual selling, includes a complex deal cycle where nearly every sales conversation happens between buyers and sellers in different physical locations. But, the elements of remote selling are still similar to that of selling in-person: Sellers need to understand business problems and help prospects and customers see how a solution can solve their problems. There are so many different action selling strategies that are more successful in a virtual sales world than before, and because of the sheer volume of tactics, reps are likely to get stuck.
In fact, some leaders have found that some of their most successful sellers actually seem to be struggling more in a virtual sales environment. They’re unfamiliar with selling through email and social channels or using technology tools like video as part of their new normal selling routine. On the flip side, younger or less experienced sales reps are crushing performance goals because they’re comfortable with social tools and trying new tactics.
So, what can leaders do to help their sales team do Better Work as virtual selling continues to rise? We’ve got three strategies that any team can implement with their sales training programs—let’s take a closer look at each.
1. Focus on sales training topics that are crucial for virtual selling
Today’s sales reps have to navigate a quickly changing business environment, meet increasing needs, and stand out from competitors. We’ve found that developing and conducting sales training programs isn’t easy—at all. The strongest programs have been the ones led by folks who recognize and prioritize a variety of skills to pivot and meet customers where they’re at and more. So, if you’re still trying to figure out what to cover in your sales training materials, here are a few training ideas that will help sales reps succeed in a virtual world.
Social selling: Prospects vary in personality, communication style, and approaches to decision making.That’s why top sales training programs focus on social styles and include practice opportunities with different conversation cues to show reps how to adapt their sales approach.
Writing effective emails: A great first call includes focused selling, an understanding of social styles, and effective communication. These sales skills are just as important in email conversations, so it’s important to train reps to communicate in a manner that’s effective, friendly, and approachable.
Using technology: Sales reps leverage an extensive tech stack. In addition to knowing how to work with their CRM, content platforms, and more, they now need to be comfortable with video platforms and other social tools that make virtual selling more effective.
Building relationships: Sales reps who can’t look beyond the typical “product push” with prospects simply won’t succeed. That’s why it’s important to make sure your sales training program helps reps hone their relationship building skills that enable them to create a unique experience that fosters a true partnership.
Active listening: According to Harvard Business Review, nearly 40% of potential customers are more likely to close a deal with a sales rep who actively listens to their problems and provides next steps. With the right listening and sales skills training, your reps can hone their listening, communicating, and problem-solving skills to foster strong virtual relationships.
2. Increase the number of coaching sessions
Sure, there are plenty of different types of sales training programs out there, but there’s one consistent element that should ring true for every single one: Sales coaching. That’s right—every sales rep needs to receive ongoing coaching from their manager or team leader. While sales coaching used to be difficult when reps were out of the office on client and prospect visits, we have a new opportunity to increase coaching now that most salespeople are still working remotely. This may make it easier to weave coaching sessions into everyone’s schedule. If you’re trying to figure out how to build a scalable sales coaching model, consider which of your reps need performance coaching, skills coaching, or one-on-one coaching to become the most effective virtual seller possible. This will also make it easier to create a sales coaching model that provides structure and growth for everyone involved.
3. Create a new cadence for peer-to-peer review and feedback
Reps need constant feedback loops. And now that practically every sales team is removed from the office, they no longer have the opportunity to easily connect with coworkers, share best practices, and share ideas simply. Feedback is important for any sales team, but that sense of camaraderie and connection can really fuel sales success in a virtual setting.
To add to the challenge, giving feedback on a “normal” day in the office is hard. Giving it over a video screen or phone call is even more difficult. That’s why it’s important to create a new sales team meeting cadence that prioritizes peer connection and leaves room for effective feedback. This may look a little different based on your organization, team size, and preferences. It may also look a little different for each team member, but the goal remains the same: To help each other grow and do Better Work in a virtual world. To make feedback as effective as possible, ask each of your sales reps how they prefer to receive feedback in a virtual environment and develop a plan based on their preferences.
Virtual selling isn’t going anywhere. It’s here to stay. The organizations that succeed are the ones who will continually evolve their sales training materials to equip their sales reps with the knowledge and tools they need to close deals—in or out of the office. So, if you’re ready to reimagine your sales training program, these strategies are a great place to start.
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