Remote selling will continue to be a prominent feature in sales for the foreseeable future. According to Gartner’s survey of chief sales officers (CSOs), 58% reported that they expect their sales force to remain operating virtually, up from 24% who were working virtually pre-pandemic. In the future, over a third of CSOs said they are permanently transitioning some or all field sellers to virtual roles, and another third are considering it.
Remote selling is ‘just like riding a bike’ as the saying goes. Meaning that once you learn how to do something once, you’ll likely never forget it. You already know how to sell – but you may not know how to best transfer those selling skills to the fully remote environment.
What is remote selling?
You were probably already practicing some elements of remote selling long before it was as prominent as it is today. Remote selling can involve something as simple as having a call with your client while you are in New York and they are in New Delhi. As long as the two parties are in different physical locations, it’s considered remote selling.
Remote selling involves various engagement techniques, channels, and sales enablement tools beyond your typical video and phone calls. It can start with prospecting and move along the sales continuum to ongoing nurturing. It covers everything from communication tools like emails or WeChat to asynchronous communication such as demo videos or custom slideshows.
Level up your selling and stand out with buyers by utilizing some of the remote practices that are not as commonplace. For example, take buyers on a behind-the-scenes guided video tour of your company’s factories or stores.
What are the benefits of remote selling?
Research shows that sales leaders who adopted a remote model are seeing positive results. HubSpot found that 63% of sales leaders believe virtual sales meetings are equally effective or more effective than traditional, face-to-face-meetings. 64% percent of sales leaders who invested in enabling remote selling met or exceeded their revenue targets, compared with 50% who did not make the transition.
The main advantage of remote selling goes back to the definition of the word ‘remote’ itself. It refers to being far removed in space, time, or relation. With fewer geographic hurdles, there are cost savings on travel or having to lease office space. An added bonus is fewer health risks to both your team and the clients’ that can come from in-person interactions.
Remote selling opens up a wider variety of buyers. You can expand beyond your usual regions and make inroads into new territories to reach prospects a world away.
There is more flexibility with scheduling so key decision makers can participate to provide additional opportunities for a sale.
How to make a smooth shift to remote selling?
Having the right people on your remote sales team can be the means to revenue success. But a salesperson will never succeed if he or she does not have the necessary sales enablement strategy behind them. In the buying cycle, sales enablement provides your reps with the relevant resources they need to close more deals. These could include content, tools, information, and research.
According to Ian Ballantyne, Sales Director EMEA at Pitcher, “It's clear that the demands on reps today are bigger than they ever have been. Their interactions, whether that's face-to-face or digitally (remote), demands increasingly more from them. Therefore, they need to have a sales enablement platform that allows them to do more than just showing content.”
And he continues: “digital is going to become more of a key component. We're definitely going in the direction of the hybrid rep and this development has accelerated due to the pandemic.
Ultimately, personal interaction is essential in terms of maintaining the relationship with the customer. However, today the customer is also more open to digital avenues.”
Many companies are expanding their sales teams to better compete in growing markets or pursue opportunities that have arisen with remote selling, such as new territories. The time is ripe if you are looking to add more people to your team since there has been a global trend of job switching in the post-Covid era. A survey of more than 30,000 global workers showed that 41% were considering quitting or changing professions this year.
Hire the right people to succeed
Seek out talent who will perform well in a remote setting with solid communication, ownership, and accountability skills.
Embed training and development for your new hires and your existing team as part of your remote sales enablement strategy.
74% percent of CSOs stated that they have recently or are currently updating their seller skills profile for virtual selling in an effort to support their teams. Look for a training solution that offers a personalized approach for each sales rep’s individual needs and continually reinforces the information on an ongoing basis.
How to best leverage tech for remote selling?
By 2025, Gartner expects 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers to occur in digital channels and sales teams will need a variety of effective tech capabilities at their fingertips as part of their sales enablement toolbox.
With guided selling, you can make the sales process easier and smoother for your sales reps, so they can concentrate on spending more time selling, and less time doing admin. The AI-based approach enables sales teams to engage customers through automated and personalized digital sales aids and content recommendations that incorporate customer-specific information. Guided selling benefits both sellers and buyers alike by automating the process. This is especially helpful when it comes to remote selling because it increases your team’s efficiency and productivity.
In the remote world, some people are craving connections across the screen more than ever. There’s a sense of isolation that didn’t exist before when selling was mostly in-person and less tech-focused.
Gauge your prospect and see if adding a more personal touch to calls may help the relationship. One place to start is, when you are in a video call with a prospect, to inquire about something in the background such as a poster or an award. They most likely would not be showing these items if they were not open to speaking about them. Use these questions as an opening to start a discussion and form a stronger connection.
4 remote selling best practices
Numerous challenges can arise when sellers and buyers are dispersed. You already know how to sell, but are just adapting those skills to a remote environment.
These are some common issues that are often perceived across remote sales teams and how to best solve for them:
1. Establishing new buyer relationships
- Sellers know they need a constant pipeline of new prospects to increase sales. But it can be difficult to build trust and rapport with a prospect that you’ve never met in person. Try these initiatives with remote buyers:
- Use referrals: Referrals account for 65% of companies’ new deals. Most likely this is because buyers are likely to be responsive to people they already know. Look at a business networking site such as LinkedIn to find out who knows who. Then reach out to prospects you are connected with and showcase your company’s value by sending them industry case studies or testimonials from their competitors.
- Host a virtual roundtable: Invite unknown prospects to an informative event with a mix of some existing clients and new ones. The group setting is more inviting and will let you showcase your thought leadership in their industry around a topic that is relevant to them. This plan is all about showing that you are a trusted thought leader and an expert in your field. For example, Pitcher hosted the House Of Heroes global event and invited various external speakers and clients to discuss relevant and timely topics in the industries.
2. Battling video conference fatigue:
Being tired of always using virtual platforms for communication is leaving sellers and their clients drained and burned out. Here are some ways to deal with it, so your buyer is more receptive to remote meetings:
- Camera optional: The seller should always turn on their camera but make it clear that it is camera optional for the prospects. Share your screen with an agenda or presentation so that the attention is on the content rather than the attendees.
- Switch to phone: Not every sales meeting needs to happen on video. Offer your prospect the option of having a phone call versus a video conference and most likely they will be relieved to have a break from video. Pitcher offers one single interface with video and audio channels so your prospects can choose to join a call from their browsers or mobile devices.
3. Getting the right omnichannel strategy
- A cohesive omnichannel strategy seamlessly integrates your communication channels at every point of a customer’s journey. Each channel works together to create a unified message, voice and brand for your company. This approach creates a more consistent user experience overall.
- Look at the data: Analyze the data from each of your channels and compare and contrast to gain insights into what is working, and what is not. For example, you may find that you get very few leads from texting prospects and can then redirect your efforts to a more effective communication channel.
- Be your own customer: Take a few minutes and pretend you are a customer that is interacting with your company for the first time. Visit your website, check out your social media, and send a test email to the general sales account. Make notes on your experience and enact changes as necessary.
4. Personalize all content and interactions to suit your buyer
- According to Gartner, 79% of B2B marketers say the best way to engage buyers is to deliver personally relevant communications. This can help make your prospect feel special by personalizing all your exchanges with them.
- Do your research: Before a sales call, look at what the buyer has seen and experienced in previous interactions with your business. You are looking for questions that may arise on the call and can then best prepare for how to answer them ahead of time.
- Use personalization: Don’t just cut and paste the same words into all your buyer targeted emails or texts. Make them specific to each client’s needs. If needed, spend time doing some digging to fully understand your buyer, what their challenges are, and what their biggest wants and needs are.
Remote selling is constantly evolving, and it is important for you and your sales team to continue to maintain pace with it. Keep your remote selling going strong by continually developing your sales enablement tools, and your training and coaching. Your sales can only go up from here.
Remote selling FAQs
What is remote selling?
Remote selling is the process of a seller prospecting and engaging with buyers and both the sellers and the buyers are in different physical locations. Remote selling is an alternative, or an addition to, in-person and hybrid selling efforts. It is primarily used for B2B products and services with the sales interactions between the seller and the buyer being conducted via video meetings, phone calls, emails, text messages, or other channels.
How does technology help with remote selling?
The benefit of technology is that it can streamline the sales process, improve communications, and accelerate sales enablement. The tech tools for remote selling tend to fall into three buckets: intelligence, engagement, and communication. Sales teams should also consider using guided selling as part of the tech tool stack to better automate the selling process.
How is it best to manage a remote sales team?
Continuous communication is central to managing a remote sales team. Hold weekly one-on-one meetings with each sales rep and a weekly team meeting. Get involved by joining your sales reps on video and phone sales calls. Practice ongoing development with training and coaching that is customized to each sales rep’s needs.
If you want to learn more about Pitcher, experience Pitcher by requesting a demo.