woman on laptop with headset
From focusing on emotional intelligence to incorporating more digital tools and social selling, there are several ways that sales teams can approach customers following a crisis. — Getty Images/fizkes

The era of social distancing has changed the way the sales cycle operates. According to McKinsey, nearly 90% of B2B sales now take place over a videoconferencing(VC)/phone/web sales model. Their research shows that more than half of businesses surveyed believe this to be an equally or more effective sales model than the methods used before COVID-19. But, for many small businesses, this way of closing sales is still new. Here’s how you can prepare your sales team for the new landscape.

[Read more: 4 Expert Strategies for Training Your Sales Team]

Start with your digital tools

Social distancing will prevent your team from making in-person sales visits for the foreseeable future. As a result, you need to find the right digital tools to empower your sales team to reach customers effectively.

But, as McKinsey found in its research, simply training your team to use a video and CRM platform won’t lead to meaningful results. “Traditional face-to-face interactions have given way to sales and service support by videoconference, webinar, phone, human chatbot, and other means. In this remote and digital world, however, there is still a crucial role for the human touch,” they reported.

[Read more: 9 Experts on How to Communicate With Customers During Coronavirus]

Look at how you can automate or provide self-service options for the basic tasks your sales team needs to do in person. Imagine the customer experience online, and then deploy your sales staff to help manage those channels effectively. Training should focus on providing support, helping customers and augmenting digital efforts.

Focus on social selling

As one expert from Salesforce recommended, “It’s a salesperson’s job to make sure they add value for customers at each touchpoint. Keeping deals moving might be as simple as letting your customers know you’re there if they need you. Or it might mean presenting via video chat to a virtual room full of decision-makers, who now work from home, and don’t have access to everything they might need to make a decision.”

One way to let your customers set the pace is to focus on social selling. Social selling is a way to generate leads where your sales team interacts with prospects through social media. Before the pandemic, social selling was showing promising results. More than 75% of social sellers outsell those who don’t use social media. As a result, your retraining should focus on leveraging social media channels with remote communication tools to help your team stay on a customer’s radar.

Train your team to use all the different social media platforms to build authentic, empathetic relationships with their customers through direct messaging, video chat, and more.

Develop your team’s EQ

Most experts agree that now is not the time to make a hard push for new sales. While most of the country is reopening, consumers are still managing income loss or reduction. One aspect of your retraining should focus on EQ, emotional intelligence. “Salespeople should make sure they understand the basics of emotional intelligence and their own emotional connections to your organization’s product or service before using the same tactics with their clients and prospects,” wrote the Training Industry blog.

Your field team, in particular, may need extra training to convey emotional intelligence remotely. “Many sales reps are unequipped to build relationships over the phone, which will be critical as sales moves to remote and inside sales,” said one sales rep. “Relationship building will also be of higher importance as sales reps will be vying for a smaller budget and fewer resources that many companies are facing.” Train your team to use all the different social media platforms to build authentic, empathetic relationships with their customers through direct messaging, video chat, and more.

Practice your video pitches

Video pitches are a good way to generate warm leads. Even before the pandemic, sales teams were starting to utilize video to save on travel resources.

Part of your salesforce retraining should involve practicing your video message to perfection. There are two types of video pitches your team will have to learn: live and pre-recorded. Video pitches that are pre-recorded involve filming each sales representative giving an elevator pitch. Live video replicates the in-person experience your field team is used to. For sales teams that are used to pitching in person, go through the ins and outs of using pre-recorded videos in email messages that are personalized to each lead. Any pre-recorded video pitches you send should be linked to an offer, such as a product trial or free demo.

Your live video pitches can be practiced among your team until your reps are ready to go. Use your time in retraining to build your team’s confidence. “Reps can still give presentations, have a sense of humor, and demo remotely. For example, one of our reps hung up a rival football flag behind his desk of his customer’s favorite team to start a fun conversation,” said one expert. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published May 27, 2020