Virtual selling has become a common strategy picked up by many organizations as of late. With COVID-19 having forced many companies to switch over to a remote lifestyle, plenty of sales teams had to start conducting their sales virtually. No longer were they able to travel across the city or country to visit clients and speak to them in person. While things are starting to normalize to some extent, there are still restrictions in place when it comes to flying to other areas of the world.
For the time being, many organizations are still relying on virtual selling, but that doesn’t mean all of them are enjoying it as much as they’d like. While virtual selling may have kept the business afloat, it still has some challenges that are not easily smoothed out. Some things are better conducted in person than virtual. For example, relationships can be far harder for sales representatives to form with clients when they are speaking virtual instead of in person.
It also makes it harder for both members to read each other's body language, which could lead to some misunderstandings on either side. There are quite a few things that virtual selling is not able to offer that in-person meetings can. For this post, let’s go over why virtual selling is more laborious than in-person sales.
One of the most crucial things a salesperson needs to do is develop a positive relationship with their client. The salesperson wants to ensure they grab their client's attention so they can pitch their product or services to them. They need to present the value behind what their organization is offering to succeed in closing the sale. However, as the sales meeting starts to drift into closing the deal, the dynamic changes. Instead of just spouting out numbers, the dealings begin to become more focused on the relationship between the two individuals.
The business world is crowded, no matter what industry you are involved in. There are tons of competitors out there attempting to accomplish the same thing as you are, which means your prospective customers have several competitors to choose from. The final decision a prospect makes comes down to how they feel about the salesperson they are interacting with. It’s one of the many reasons why establishing a relationship with clients has become a critical necessity in the sales world. Of course, the best way to do this is in person and here is why:
When you are dealing with a client in person, there is far more context around the conversation occurring between the both of you. When you meet them in person, you receive an insider's view on how to pitch and negotiate. During an in-person meeting, you have a better view of how they react to what you are saying and use that to your advantage. The knowledge you acquire from these interactions will help you smooth out your pitch. Sales reps are gaining far more information from these in-person meetings than they would from a video call or email.
While video calls are becoming widely used among virtual selling, it still limits your ability to understand what the client wants. Some of your clients may not feel comfortable with having their camera on, and it could cause the meeting to quickly become awkward if you forcefully insist on them turning it on. Even if they do have it on, there is still a limit to what you see from them. And, let’s not forget that the quality of the camera may not be the best, which could cause issues in getting a reading on them.
Reading the body language of another person is just as important as the words they are speaking. After all, communication is 93% nonverbal, which means you are missing out on tons of information if you are not seeing the person you are talking to. For example, they might be saying one thing with their words, but their body language could be saying something else. It’s possible to see some of that when it comes to a video call, but it is not the same as sitting in the same room and reading their entire body language and presence.
Unlike virtual selling, you can develop deeper and more personal connections with your clients in these meetings. Science has proven that humans have established relationships for thousands of years through shared experiences and breaking bread. The mere act of being with another person and having a drink or meal can help develop a relationship and offer you an advantage in the long run.
These in-person meetings also grant you more quality time with the person than you would get from virtual meetings. Virtual meetings tend to be shorter compared to in person, so you don’t have to condense your pitch to only a certain amount of minutes. For example, Zoom fatigue has become a common issue among people who are using video conferencing platforms to conduct virtual meetings. They quickly become drained and wish to end the call quicker than most. In-person meetings are less draining and can last as long as possible between the both of you.
While you may not speak to as many prospects as you can by conducting these in-person meetings, the iteration you have with them presents a far better opportunity.
Another difference between virtual and in-person meetings is the amount of attention the prospect will give you. Virtual meetings can be far more distracting than in person since they are surrounded by things that can take their attention away from them. For example, they might have their email open on another tab, which allows them to work on messaging other individuals while they speak to you. That means they have only half their attention away from what you are saying, making your pitch less successful. Some prospects believe they can multitask during these meetings and still get what you are saying, but that’s not true at all. If anything, they might miss out on vital information, and you may have to repeat yourself.
However, when you are meeting up in person, you manage to get the prospective client's undivided attention. They will not be surrounded by the temptation to type away on their computer, and whipping out their phones to send messages would make them seem rude. As long as people need to make buying decisions for their organizations, meeting in person provides a strategic advantage that virtual selling struggles to mimic.
At the moment, sales teams are feeling pressured to achieve the numbers established by their managers. With more emails sent out more than ever, they are getting more noise from every direction. That increases the difficulty of establishing a connection with any prospects that are interested in what your organization has to offer. The opportunities they do receive increases the pressure on them, which can lead to them becoming more vulnerable over time.
That growing weight can cause reps to default on their self-interest, compounding the problem and causing them to make mistakes they would ordinarily avoid. Sales reps may also mistakenly believe that the customers are not in the best position to make purchasing decisions for their organization. With budget changes being made and shifting priorities, project goals and decisions may take much longer. Companies at the moment are currently hesitant to invest in things. That makes sellers may hesitate in pushing them to make a purchase. Virtual selling can cause them to question whether it’s the best time to sell something to a client if they don’t hear from them after a while.
At times, there are going to be times when a sales rep is meeting with a room full of people instead of a single person. It’s essential that everyone can participate and that questions are prompt responses. However, that can be challenging through virtual selling since most people don’t feel comfortable jumping into the middle of a conversation, especially when video calls can have delays. Usually, everyone needs to pause for a few seconds before jumping into the talk, and that could cause some people to remain silent indefinitely so as not to come off as rude.
In-person meetings allow you to direct the flow of conversation and ask questions. The clients will have a far easier time knowing who you are addressing your questions to and prompt reply instead of allowing silence to linger in the air. Looking at them directly on the screen doesn't have the same impact as it would in person. Video calls are more troublesome for people to know if they are being addressed since they can't see the visual cue directed at them through a video call. However, in person, it makes it far more obvious who you are talking to, which will prompt them to speak up and answer.
VIrtual selling does have its benefits and has helped many organizations keep their business operating during the pandemic. However, it doesn't provide the same benefits as in-person sales can pull off. Some limitations are tough to overcome virtually, and these issues can cause sales deals to become shaking. In the end, it all comes down to what manages to work best for you and your sales team. Do you have a better time closing deals virtual? Or were you doing better when you still had the option to perform in-person sales?
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