Virtual Sales Requires All Hands (Digital and Human) on Deck
Just a few years ago, virtual sales could have meant a few different things. For some organizations, it was the outsourcing of specific outbound sales activities. For others, it involved the utilization of tools, such as live chat and demos, to respond to online enquiries. Today, the term “virtual sales” implies a much more holistic approach to customer-creation—one that integrates people, processes, technology and data to guide prospects through their buying journey and entire lifecycle experience.
Watch the on-demand webinar, The Inside Scoop on Inside Sales to learn more about the evolution of virtual sales.
You’ve likely heard the powerful statistic that 67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now experienced digitally (SiriusDecisions). But when higher-priced purchases are on the line, that same research shows that human-to-human interactions are more frequently a part of the decision-making process. Even when the majority of the buyer’s journey is fueled by digital interactions made prior to personal contact, sales and marketing experts on the back-end can greatly influence those interactions through personalization and virtual, yet human-based assistance.
This shift in buying behaviors and practices has paved the way for a new breed of hybrid sales and marketing professional, one who is culturally different in his/her approach to nurturing leads, offering buying assistance and orchestrating customer-centric interactions.
Three Tips to Build a Well-Oiled Virtual Sales Team
While your organization’s model for virtual sales may still be evolving, below are a few tips based on research from IDC (Evolution of the Virtual Sales Rep: Taking the Buyer Experience to the Next Level) that can help you accelerate your success:
- Create relevant, easily accessible content – Virtual sales places greater demand on internal marketing resources to create and maintain content that is less promotional and more helpful to the customer. As such, organizations must delve deeper and speak directly to line-of-business buyers to gain real-world insights into industry- and vertical-specific challenges and opportunities, and then ensure that relevant content reflects those insights. In addition, content marketing assets should be self-service, easy to obtain for buyers and contextually linked to your virtual seller interactions to deliver the best customer experience.
- Recruit with a new skill set in mind – The skill set of virtual sales agents will differ from that of traditional sales and marketing hires. Virtual sales reps should be well versed in using CRM, cognitive and marketing automation systems, and they should be equally adept at chat and the art of social selling. Strong virtual sales candidates will have an affinity for technology, particularly when qualifying and nurturing leads. But they should also possess key interpersonal skills that are critical to traditional sales roles, such as those related to likability,effective communications and rapport building.
- Invest in your virtual sellers’ experience – Understand that a virtual rep may be the first human interaction (even if behind the scenes) that a prospect has with your company. As such, it is important to appoint people with the right skill set and as much contextually relevant information about the prospect, their company and digital buying journey. Ideally, these professionals are in place because they are keen listeners and solution-oriented in their approach. But proper use of analytics and Artifical Intelligence (ie: Company, industry, Customer’s past purchases, prospect’s tweets, blogs, webpage history…) to augment their effectiveness while transforming their customer’s experience. Happy employees normally translates in higher customer satisfaction. The overarching goal isn’t just to close a sale, but rather to learn more about what the prospect wants, to deliver the expected outcome via an integrated adoption motion. Performed well, this will lead to increased business and higher customer retention rates.
Remember, in our changing digital economy, the buyer is in the driver’s seat, and the goals of instant value delivery and customer success need to remain top of mind. To achieve these goals, you’ll need all hands on deck—both human and digital—and Cisco has an arsenal of tools, platforms and digital assets to help you rise to the challenge. You can read more about the virtual sales movement and how Cisco can help here.