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Remote selling isn’t a new concept. Cold calling, which has been around for decades, is also a form of remote selling – and in the pre-pandemic era, 27% of sales agents were conducting more than 50% of their sales activities remotely.
COVID, of course, dramatically changed the sales ecosystem almost overnight, with a massive 163% increase in sales reps carrying out more than half of their sales activities virtually.
Though this switch to remote selling was because of a once-in-several-generations phenomenon, the fact is that remote selling is here to stay.
This means that if you haven’t yet brushed up on your remote selling skills and need to improve at closing calls, or you haven’t trained your team well enough to sell virtually, your competition will leave you in the dust.
But don’t worry – this blog post will explain what remote sales are and why it matters so that your sales career can skyrocket in a remote-selling environment!
What Are Remote Sales?
Remote sales are when you, the sales agent, and your potential customer are not in the same location throughout the sales process. Instead of meeting face to face, you can be at your home while the customer may be at his office. Remote sales can be made over the phone, via video chat, email, or even social media.
CEO of Flockjay, Shaan Hathiramani, reckons remote sales are the future.
“The inefficiency of travel, in-person business meetings, and late-night dinner appointments will make face-to-face meetings less common and not necessary in many cases. Organizations will use more data, more video, and more telesales. I do not believe we will go back to the world that was.”
If you’re still asking, “What is remote selling?” take a look at how it compares to the more traditional method of selling.
Remote sales vs face-to-face sales
Face-to-face sales (also known as traditional or field sales) is the conventional method of selling, where a sales rep meets the prospect in person.
It could mean physically knocking on the customer’s door, meeting at the coffee shop or over dinner, attending glamorous sales events, and, if you’re at the top of your game, even going overseas to clinch a big deal.
But it also means endless weeks on the road all by yourself, away from family and friends, looking for the next sale, one slow meeting at a time.
None of this happens in remote sales (also called virtual sales). It’s all about engaging with your potential customers from behind a desk. You could even be thousands of miles away from your prospect on another continent!
Let’s look at the differences between remote and traditional sales:
Length of sales cycle
Benefits of Remote Selling
Remote selling offers some distinct advantages over traditional sales. Customers today are in favor of buying virtually. In fact, more than 70% of B2B buyers prefer remote meetings over in-person engagements with sales agents.
These are some of the key benefits of remote selling:
1. Lower costs
Through remote selling, you can cut down significantly on money that you would have spent on travel, car fuel, airfares, renting temporary office space, accommodations, and dining.
Simple costs like food and drinks might appear nominal, but if you’re out in the field 20 days a month, it all adds up.
Of course, your business still needs to invest in technological tools like CRM and computers, but expenses are overall lower.
2. Higher efficiency
Endless trips to the airport, getting stuck in traffic jams, your lead canceling the meeting at the eleventh hour – all these are normal events in the life of a field sales agent.
Frustrating, isn’t it?
Now think of the hours you save if you focus solely on sales, sales, and more sales for your entire shift from the comfort of your office (or home) chair.
Remote selling also means more time for training and refining skills that will make you a more confident sales agent.
3. Geography, what’s that?
You can reach potential customers all over the U.S. – and beyond – by using:
- Text messaging
- Social media
There is really no limit to how much you can achieve as a remote sales agent.
And, with access to the right CRM to organize your processes, you can experience the kind of explosive growth which is difficult for a field agent.
4. Stronger collaboration with team members
As a remote sales agent, you’ll be working very closely with other members of your team. Support structures and team bonding in the call center are an integral part of the remote sales work environment. This is true even if you’re working from home.
In the field, a sales job can feel lonely…
In remote sales, it’s easier to see that sales is teamwork.
You’ll also be coordinating with other teams, like marketing, which is easier with multiple collaboration channels. Technology also makes it easier to improve your skill set.
Common Challenges of Remote Sales
There’s a difference between perception and reality in remote selling, with 88% of sales executives expecting a percentage increase in win rates, though the actual percentage of improvement in win rates is only 45%.
This suggests that sales reps may be overestimating their capabilities in clinching sales, their training is not always up to the mark, and not all have adapted to the latest technology.
Here are some of the common challenges of remote sales:
1. Establishing rapport with customers and keeping them engaged
One of the advantages of face-to-face interactions is that sales reps can read a prospect’s body language and facial expressions. These are often missing in remote sales, especially via phone and email. Virtual interaction doesn’t have that intangible connection people make when talking face to face.
Plus, distractions and interruptions abound. Kids, dogs, cats, partners…
If your potential customer is not paying attention to what you’re saying, then it’s going to be tough to convert them.
One thing you can do is to make sure things are running smoothly on your end.
Here are some ways to improve communication with your prospect over a video call:
- Use the mute button when you’re not talking.
- Be mindful of the camera angle. Straight is best.
- Ensure that the lighting is good and your face is not in the shadow.
- Check your audio/video before making a call. Actually, check it twice.
- Lock your office door.
2. Reaching the decision-makers
A survey of 622 sales agents and support personnel found that reaching decision-makers and engaging all stakeholders are some of the biggest challenges of remote selling.
You might have to send several emails or call multiple times to get a foot in the door. It’s easier to ignore emails or phone calls, after all.
There is no shortcut to overcoming this challenge. You should gather as much information as you can about your prospect’s company and its decision-makers. If your contact is not the right person, do not hesitate to ask if they can connect you with the right individual.
3. Access to the right digital tools
Without digital tools, remote selling is dead in the water.
How can you interact with prospects without calling, email, and video software?
More than that, you need software that will organize your contacts’ details and track your interactions with them – among other things.
Imagine having to simultaneously keep track of 100 leads at different stages of the buyer’s journey manually.
This is where a sales CRM comes in handy. It does the heavy lifting for you by:
- Storing all contact information
- Making data retrieval easy
- Keeping track of all interactions between customers and sales reps
With this system in place, you and your team have access to the same (organized) information anytime, anywhere.
6 Remote Selling Pro Tips
Whether you’re selling remotely from the comfort of your home or the organized chaos of a call center, there are techniques that you can use to successfully close that deal.
Let’s look at some, shall we?
1. Eliminate distractions during calls
Get rid of any potential distractions during calls. It could be the difference between closing or losing a deal.
If you’re working out of home, keep a tidy workplace, put your phone on silent, and make sure the dog is in another part of the house and doesn’t come rushing into your workstation and jump over your laptop.
If you’re working from the office, bonding with team members between calls is part of the fun. But you have to switch to the full focus mode when you’re on a call. And ensure that your teammates also get the space and quiet they need when they’re on their calls.
2. Personalize your communications
Don’t forget that there is a real person at the other end of the call, with their own pain points and reasons for wanting to buy your product.
Address this real person, not the theoretical prospect for whom you have a copy-pasted script.
To do this, you need to be a careful listener, understand where the person is coming from, ask genuine questions, and address the problems that come up.
You can personalize your communication by:
- Researching your leads on social media before speaking with them
- Identifying your prospect’s pain points
- Using email templates that include the prospect’s name and other relevant details
- Making recommendations not connected to the product you're selling
- Using a CRM to keep track of potential customers
3. Ace virtual demos
In traditional sales, reps schedule an in-person meeting where they can demo their product.
If you’re in the SaaS space, for example, you’d go to your prospect’s offices and give them a hands-on demo of your product/service.
While you can still give a demo of your software virtually, replicating the hands-on nature of a live product demonstration has its own challenges and opportunities. The sales manager should work closely with marketing to ensure that the virtual demo has the right mix of interesting features and benefits and, at the same time, ensure it’s not just a collection of boring technical terms. Instead, it should tell a story.
The job of a sales rep is to find the right moment to screen-share the demo with the prospect and confidently show how the product or service addresses their pain points.
4. Manage your calendar
A little care here can go a long way in making your life easier. You want to avoid:
- Back-to-back online meetings
- Double bookings
Make sure you have a sufficient buffer time between two calls.
There is sometimes a temptation to over-work, to stretch your working hours to 10 or more to make more sales. If you’re able to handle the extra work, it’s fine. But if it’s because of poor calendar and time management…Houston, we have a problem!
5. Shutdown other apps
If many apps and programs are running in the background, it can significantly impact your computer’s performance and ruin your video call. Do yourself a favor and make sure all unnecessary programs are shut down and your video is running at its peak performance.
Even worse, a personal message notification may come up while you’re screen sharing. Way to go to show how professional you are!
Only use the apps you need for the presentation, turn off all notifications, and set your phone to Do Not Disturb.
6. Use an up-to-date CRM
CRMs are a sales rep’s best friend. But CRMs that are outdated or don’t have enough features will be your doom. They will take forever to load and are prone to crashing at exactly the wrong time.
Having the wrong information – or no information at all – while talking to a potential client is your worst nightmare.
“Hi, Philip. This is Jane Armstead. We talked last week, and I’m circling back about the additional riders you want for your law firm’s insurance policy.”
Great! You called back as agreed. Except that the person on the other end is Jack and he runs a financial startup.
Now, unless you want your team to be utterly embarrassed – not to mention lose a client –
you better invest in an effective CRM for remote sales.
Remote Selling Training
It is probably the best-kept secret in this industry: more than half of the people in sales lack the skills to be successful.
This means the onus is on you to make sure that your sales team is well-trained and equipped to do their jobs well.
Remote selling training has to be focused and ongoing – and not a one-time activity – to make a real impact.
When setting up a remote selling training program, make sure it includes the following elements:
1. Customer feedback
Customer feedback will tell you which aspect of the selling process needs to be tweaked.
This works at two levels:
- The business may need to improve aspects of the product or service to address the most common pain points of customers
- Sales agents need to be trained to include these pain points in their script and address them meaningfully
Your training program should always include customer feedback so that reps know exactly what they’re doing well and what they need to improve on.
2. Technology and data matter
Your reps may learn how to use the CRM well enough to do their jobs in a few days, but they’ll surely perform better if they are trained on the software regularly. Refreshers and training sessions on advanced features ensure they make the most of the tools they have.
Every sales call center gathers a goldmine of data every day, from customer profiles to average time calls. Don’t let this information gather dust. Instead, use it to improve sales calls and processes.
3. Mock calls and examples
This is a tried and tested method of accelerating the learning process, especially for newer reps. The trainer assumes the role of a customer to whom reps make their sales pitch.
Alternatively, two agents are made to work in a pair, and each plays the role of a customer and agent. At the end of the session, they discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s calls.
Another method is listening to real recorded calls and analyzing their strengths and weaknesses.
4. Real-time calling
At some stage, skills have to be applied to the real world. While this is necessary for trainees, experienced agents can also put their newly acquired skills to use in an actual call.
These calls are analyzed in detail by the trainer, and reps come up with their own solutions on how they could have been handled better.
5. Product and brand knowledge
If reps don’t know their product like the back of their hand, it will ultimately show in the conversations they have with prospects.
How can they convince a prospect to make a purchase when they can’t answer questions about what they’re selling?
A good remote selling training program will not just explain the product or service but also the core values of the business and the overall goals of the brand.
6. Soft skills
Learning how to handle customer expectations and pain points is not just about knowing the product but also using the right words and tone.
No matter what the level of experience of an agent, the learning never stops. In fact, reps who’ve been around for years may be unaware of the subtle messages that their voice modulation or choice of phrases convey to prospects because they are used to speaking spontaneously on calls.
The right posture during a video call and how to look at the prospect on Zoom are integral features of remote selling training.
Here’s a handy table for remote selling soft skills:
To create a connection
Active listening skills
To truly understand where they are coming from
To establish credibility and gain prospect’s confidence
To keep prospects engaged
To effectively communicate via email or text
Remote Selling FAQs
“What does a remote salesperson do?”
Remote salespersons usually refer to agents who make sales calls from their homes. A remote sales agent communicates with customers to sell products or services via phone or video calls. The focus must always be on the result – the number of sales made at the end of the day – rather than the number of hours spent calling.
“What is hybrid selling?”
Hybrid selling combines the best of in-person sales and remote sales to create a cohesive plan to maximize the productivity of a sales team and get more results by tailoring the experience to individual customers’ needs. Hybrid selling acknowledges a future where in-person meetings are less frequent though not completely replaced by remote selling.
“Is remote selling here to stay?”
COVID-19 accelerated a trend that was already happening in B2B sales: remote sales. Sales reps and a majority of customers prefer digital self-service rather than meeting face to face today. In the near to medium-term, even after the pandemic is over, remote sales will be the main category of selling.
“How do I sell on Zoom?”
Selling on Zoom is critical if you want to succeed in remote sales. Some suggestions for a better Zoom call are:
- Give yourself time to prepare
- Present with visuals through screen sharing
- Set a clear agenda
- Emphasize open-ended questions
- Look and sound your best
- Make your meeting interactive
- Use a CRM that saves recordings
Whether you’re a sales trainee or an experienced sales agent, there is no avoiding remote selling.
You’ve learned what remote sales is, its benefits, and the challenges reps face in remote selling. We’ve also seen how it empowers agents to make more sales.
At Ringy, we are proud to support small and medium-sized businesses and provide their sales teams with the best tools and technology to clinch more deals and generate more revenue.
Want to know how Ringy can help your business? Book a demo today!