How Do I Sell If I Can’t Meet My Customers?

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If you’ve been carrying a bag for a while, I’m going to be honest. The transition to “virtual” sales or inside sales can be rough. 

It feels like a wall has been placed between you and your customers.  You’ll miss the face time.  Deals seem stalled.  Relationships aren’t quite as robust.  And that’s not even talking about what’s happening to your airline status!

If any of this sounds familiar, sign up now to keep getting new blogs.  We’re writing a series to help you transition.

My name is Lauren Bailey and I’ve been teaching phone sales for over 20 years. I carried a bag myself and when I “went inside” I felt all of the above. Moreover, my young virtual sales team struggled with how to position what they’d learned over the phone (and they were hired for selling virtually!). I’ve traveled the world launching digital sales teams and written over 40 courses that help salespeople use the phones to sell. I hope this perspective can be of value.

Today’s insight is about setting call goals.

What you used to be able to cover in one on-site meeting will take you anywhere from 3-5 calls today (and about 10x that in dials).

No, it’s not always true, but if you plan for it to be this way, you’ll feel less frustrated and improve your forecast accuracy. Here’s why:

Our calls aren’t always scheduled.  You’re trying to “get in front” of your customer or prospect with a call and three out of five times they won’t pick up or won’t have a full hour.

We have to spend more time building rapport. Gone is the handshake and back pat with a quick peek around the office and quick reference to what happened last we met or a look at the kids on their phone. We do it all with words now. It takes longer to warm up and communicate (alas, a picture DOES take 1000 words)

Digging into needs and explaining solutions also takes more time.  Not only for the extra communication without the visual cues, but because we may not have everyone we need in the room, because we’re easier to blow off or stall when we’re not face to face, because we’re bound to miss a queue somewhere and lose our customer’s focus during the meeting.  There are probably ten more reasons, but that’s enough.

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So what do we do? Slow your Roll.

Set a goal for each call that are subsets of typical sales goals. In fact, make a list right now (I’ll wait 🙂 ). If it is a new prospect, it might look like:

  1. Get direct contact information (cell phone) for easier outreach next call and landscape of key contacts, influencers, decision-makers and other parties
  2. Learn how the company is pivoting during the pandemic
  3. Uncover key priorities and current situation including numbers, current software, challenges, contracts, and timelines
  4. Uncover key values, trigger events, goals
  5. Agree on potential fit and set a meeting to deep dive + include additional decision-makers
  6. Present solution tied to key needs, values, priorities (only!)

You get the idea…

Frankly, you may have achieved all of these in a face to face meeting in the past. It will be key to have established call goals and notes from each call so you keep moving the sale forward.  (Wait! THIS is why most sellers are notoriously bad for updating CRM!).

It also makes call bridging a key skill (tune in later for more on this skill)

Feeling a bit impatient? Here’s the good news. Using the phone may net you less on each call, but you can have more connects each day. The technology and SaaS industries have moved nearly 100% inside due to the efficiencies and speed to market. Combine smart call-by-call goals with dedicated call blasts and you’ll find yourself having equal selling time with MORE contacts each day.

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