How to Sell to Prospects Who Aren’t Used to Remote Work
It's still about building personal connection
The business-to-business sales landscape is evolving dramatically in response to COVID-19. Every company, seller and buyer is adapting processes to stay productive while keeping up with new regulations and remote work. Modern sellers might have already experienced selling from a home office or working remotely, but to be successful, buyers must also get comfortable making purchases in their current work environment.
The new sales process can only work if the person (or team) making the purchase feels comfortable. In a disrupted, unconventional business environment, those buyers might be tentative to agree to a deal without traditional conventions like on-site meetings, in-person demos, or closing handshakes. Virtual equivalents to these things have emerged, but not every prospect will immediately adjust to these new ways of closing a deal. A good seller will be sensitive to that and adjust their selling process to make the prospect feel as comfortable as possible.
It might be frustrating to work B2B sales opportunities while physically distant, but it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s a chance to stand out from the competition by meeting the new needs of buyers. Here are a few tips to succeed with prospects who aren’t yet comfortable with a remote, nontraditional buying experience.
1. Be easy to work with
A lot of the discomfort or resistance to new selling workflows has nothing to do with effectiveness. It all comes down to prospects getting comfortable with a buying process that’s new to them. They know the old way works – but this new, contactless transaction is uncharted territory. A good way to bridge distance is to demonstrate that you’re a remote-friendly workplace by using virtual communication tools.
Put the sales pitch on hold while you focus on getting them comfortable with new workflow tools. Build your relationship over a video call tutorial to help your prospect grow accustomed to new lines of communication. If you can build a personal relationship using virtual tools, the barriers to a professional relationship will also be broken down.
The evolution to digital technology comes with new questions about usability and security. The best sales reps will research these subjects before prospects ask about them. In addition to selling a prospect on your company’s product or service, you might also need to sell them on a new buying process. Be prepared with information that makes those conversations as easy as possible.
Internally, every person involved in the sale needs to be up to speed on new technology and new workflows. If a prospect interacts with a sales rep, then receives conflicting information from marketing, legal, IT or finance, it could seriously stymie the buying experience. Aligning every team with integrated systems is crucial for any organization that expects to sell successfully with a remote workforce.
2. Be a trusted advisor more than a salesperson
Throughout the modern at-home sales process, it’s more important than ever to be sensitive to the unique needs of prospects. To sell successfully, reps need to focus less on the traditional selling points of their products and establish themselves as trusted advisors to the prospect.
While it’s important to be easy to work with, it’s also crucial to understand that a prospect might have new obstacles in their path to a purchase. Even if the prospect is convinced that they’ve found the right product or service to purchase, a disrupted workflow might introduce new complications that result in closing delays or lost opportunities. The prospect is facing uncertainty the same way you are and it’s beneficial to remember that other factors can force their hand.
While the short term is full of unknowns, great B2B sellers can use the uncertainty to establish strong, understanding relationships with prospects that will result in long-term success. By taking on the trusted advisor role, a sales rep will establish themself as the first person a prospect calls when they’re ready to move forward. Obstacles preventing a prospect from closing a deal with you now are also preventing them from closing a deal with one of your competitors. When those obstacles are gone and that customer starts the purchase process, you want to be at the top of the list.
3. Make time for personal one-on-one selling
Although in-person sales meetings aren’t currently happening, there’s no reason to abandon the personal connection of a face-to-face meeting. While business might happen via video conference now, there’s value in isolating the good parts of traditional in-person sales meetings and reproducing them with an evolved remote selling process.
B2B Sales in 2020: Strategies for Success revealed that sales leaders identified freeing up time for personalized selling opportunities as a key priority. This is still possible for remote sales teams and their targets. While this research was conducted before the shelter-in-place orders, the primary takeaway is that sellers succeed when they are free to spend time with prospects and personally nurture them through a sale – arguably, even more important now than ever.
As the world grows accustomed to contactless meetings, business buyers will eventually warm to new purchasing processes. Handled well, your team can shepherd buyers through virtual ways to conduct business and spend personal time empathizing and advising prospects on solutions for their specific scenarios, positioning them to capitalize on that lead.
See the full research results on B2B Sales in 2020: Strategies for Success