Being a successful salesperson is both an art and a science. The science of preparedness and discipline is required to be a top performer. People skills and natural instinct is an art form, which can be developed with experience and fine-tuned with training and/or coaching.
However, over the last few years, a new skill has become a requirement to be successful – the ability to sell in a hybrid environment. There certainly are industries and organizations that operated this way before COVID, but not at the scale and extent we do now and will for the foreseeable future. What makes this development so unique is that technology and people’s habits have dramatically changed in a short period of time, and so buyer’s expectations have risen as well.
As sales teams continue to revisit tried and true sales processes and tactics, here are a few pointers to consider when thinking about sales in a hybrid environment.
Embrace Online Sales and Continue to Focus on Relationships
Remote selling is often thought of as a lesser option when we can’t afford or get approval to travel to a potential client. However, top performers in this hybrid environment know that it creates an opportunity. The loss of face time associated with in-person meetings adds an obstacle to the sales process, where we usually count on more face-to-face access being the powerful tool to build rapport and trust.
Whether you are selling in person or in a hybrid environment, it is crucial to develop relationships and spend time with someone, regardless of the medium, in order to listen to their wants and needs. The core principles of selling (preparing, probing with insightful questions, listening to the other party, and proposing solutions that match their needs) will never change. Therefore, continue to make small talk as you start each conversation. This is perhaps the biggest mistake we see sales professionals make when they don’t get to meet potential clients in person – they hurry past the relationship building and get to business quickly, when instead they should be doing the opposite! Come prepared, have questions ready, engage the other side, and you’ll find yourself achieving great results both in-person and online.
Combine Online and In-Person Tools
Make the most out of online and in-person tools to be the most effective. How do you do this? First, choose the right medium. Emails are a great way to deliver information that the other side can digest. Calls give you easier access and tone. Video calls are a step up and provide you with body language as well, yet are still efficient and effective. Finally, in-person is best for complex conversations… and nothing is more complex than building a relationship. Therefore, choose the medium based on your objective. Meeting face-to-face, both in person and online, should be focused on getting to know someone and building rapport.
What should you remember to do when in meetings? Don’t rely on a PowerPoint presentation to sell your service or product, whether you’re on a video call or in front of your clients in a meeting room. Instead, ask questions, engage the other party, and share a compelling story that communicates whatever point you want to make. Visual aids are great but make sure they serve a complimentary purpose not just because that’s what you’ve always done. Send an email post-meeting with a visually stimulating proposal if you want them to digest and share it.
Finally, whether it’s from social media to learn more about a prospect to video chats or phone calls, use all the tools available to you to demonstrate availability and nurture your relationship.
Make the Most of Your In-Person Conversations
Sales has always required excellent interpersonal and soft skills.We know that relationships are hard to foster and even harder to maintain. Those challenges are magnified exponentially when entering a virtual environment. To combat this, make sure you don’t always rely on the easier virtual option. When you get time in person, use it wisely. Focus on developing bonds and discovery of their challenges and motivations. People like doing business with people they like, so it’s as much about developing a connection with the other party as it is about offering a solution or product that best meets their needs. The best salespeople do both.
Embracing hybrid selling, which comes with conveniences and challenges, is the first step to success. Then, you must use all the tools and media at your disposal depending on the objective. Finally, make the most of your richest interactions, which are those in person. Follow these guidelines and you will surely find hybrid sales success.