“Sell me this pen… over Zoom.”
The first half of that statement is a demand used by interviewers and sales trainers alike, but made particularly famous by Jordan Belfort (see: The Wolf of Wall Street). If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll recall a scene with a room of salespeople who are absolutely stunned by the request.
The second half… well, it’s just today’s reality, with remote sales teams and video conferencing now the norm under COVID-19.
Chances are you aren’t in a (virtual) training room being grilled by Belfort right now. But what if you find yourself in a similar situation: selling to salespeople over video?
No matter who’s on the other end, asking questions and understanding the person you’re pitching to is your first priority. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time defining their needs and determining if they’ll be a good fit with your product or service.
Whether you’re selling to a sales team leader, a sales rep or someone who just has a background in sales the same principle applies. In fact, there are some extra considerations that fall under the bucket of “understand your audience” that are pretty unique to the job, especially when it’s all happening remotely:
Slow Down To Speed Up:
They know the game. Their BS detectors are in tip-top shape and they can smell a sales trick from a mile away. The best approach is to build respect and rapport, without beating around the bush by being helpful, honest and authentic. Luckily, video’s pretty good at making human connections, so use that to your advantage.
Time is important. Salespeople already work long days and find themselves pulled away from the task they need to do the most: selling. (Here’s what a salesperson’s day looks like, by the way.) Screensharing and virtual whiteboards are the new “let me show you on a napkin” for quick, to-the-point answers, and they’re built into many video conferencing solutions. You can also get to your point faster by cutting filler words, wishy-washy promises, unnecessary questions and other time-wasters from your pitch.
A good pitch means more. Just as an artist appreciates the nuances of masterful brushwork, so too does your fellow sales rep appreciate the art of making a masterful pitch. The subtle touches that really make yours shine may go unnoticed by other customers, but being creative and different (or just really good) in your field will earn you more respect among the initiated. The good news: video communication gives you some extra room to unleash your imagination, whether you’re sharing content you put together live or recording something for a prospect to watch later.
Technique can be a distraction. When the person you’re talking to knows the best practices and top techniques inside and out, you may find them paying more attention to how you’re pitching rather than what you’re pitching. Catching that shift is even harder when communicating online versus in person. So pay extra attention to the questions you ask, their answers, and their body language (or at least what you can see on camera!)
They feel your pain. They know what it’s like to hear rejections all day or have a frustrating customer because they’ve been in your shoes, this is actually an advantage of selling to salespeople. They understand the challenges of remote work, and the pressure you feel while keeping sales up in a time of crisis. While that doesn’t necessarily translate to a higher success rate, you’ll at least have a more sympathetic audience.
Every step matters more. Chances are, they have a pretty clear idea of what a sales process looks like, meaning that each follow-up and touchpoint is that much more important. For them, it’s an expectation because they have to do follow-ups themselves. Don’t leave a call without establishing a timeframe for your next one – and when you do follow up, make it on time, on point, and on the platform they prefer.
Play in their field. It’s harder to control the conversation when the other party knows how to control the conversation themselves. Be prepared to enter their sandbox for a bit, and recognize it might be more back-and-forth than usual.
Negotiation comes naturally. Not everybody is comfortable with negotiation, but it’s an important skill in a sales rep’s toolkit. On the plus side, you can generally expect them to be pretty straightforward about what they want; on the downside, you might have to put up a bigger fight for a smaller reward.
Don’t expect an instant connection. Just because you have similar jobs, backgrounds or experiences, it doesn’t mean you have their trust or respect automatically. Yes, it might make it easier to build rapport, but you’ll still have to work for that relationship, just as you would with anyone else. This part’s probably more difficult if you’re connecting online, so make sure to make active listening a habit – and show you’re paying attention when you’re on camera.
The best approach? Practice. If you can record your video calls, do it – and go over them later to analyze what went well and what you can improve next time. You can even ask others on your team to share their feedback and examples of their best work, too. Selling to salespeople is a different game, so come prepared!