2022 has raised the bar on virtual selling skills. The reintroduction of face-to-face meetings in 2021 revealed a stark contrast between the virtual and in-person experience, reminding both sellers and buyers just how far virtual communications have to go.
Behavior that was once possibly tolerated by buyers will no longer cut it. While many sellers squeaked by in 2021 with a handful of cobbled together techniques, a growing army of virtual masters have been flexing and toning their virtual muscles. If you want to remain competitive in 2022, it’s time to level up with these must-have virtual selling skills!
“Must-Have” vs. “Most” Virtual Selling Skills
Most virtual selling skills are simply traditional selling skills rebranded under the virtual selling umbrella. Sure, the ability to deliver value, negotiate and close are still vital, but most of these skills are not terribly different than in face-to-face meetings. What IS different is the way sellers must communicate these skills on camera and how the camera (and thus our customer) reads or distorts our efforts to convey value, credibility, empathy, or enthusiasm. Virtual selling skills that don’t take these essential factors into account are doomed to fail.
Here are the 5 Must-Have Virtual Selling Skills for 2022
Skill 1: Being a Great Listener.
How can you listen if you don’t stop talking? (Most buyers on virtual sales calls)
Most virtual sales meetings are monologues, not dialogues. This is due in part to a fear of dead air and a general lack of engagement (see Skill #4). It’s easy to say: “talk less, listen more” but if sellers don’t confront that fear and practice new behaviors to overcome it, they will continue to talk themselves right out of sales.
Read one way to cure this conversation-killing habit here.
And what happens when buyers finally do get a word in? They don’t feel heard because the seller is staring at their screen. If you’ve ever been talking to someone at a party while they continually scan the room, you know how this feels. Knowing when and how to look at the camera to make a customer feel heard and seen is an absolutely essential skill to develop in 2022.
Skill 2: Reading On-Screen Body Language
Many movements and expressions have a unique meaning in a virtual environment. For instance, if you were in your customer’s office and they never made eye contact with you or had a disinterested expression on their face, you’d be right to be concerned. But on video? Not so fast.
Most people adopt a very blank or bored expression when looking at a screen. It’s so common, I’ve named it Resting Business Face. RBF is just one example of on-screen behavior that means something very different virtually than in-person. Being well-versed in how to balance eye contact with reading body language - and accurately interpreting that body language - will help you avoid deal-busting misunderstandings.
Skill 3: Developing Virtual Credibility
Your credibility is likely no different virtually than in person, however many salespeople do things on camera that undermines their efforts to build trust and cause customers to question their credibility.
For example, studies show that most people associate averting your eyes with guilt, lying, or a lack of confidence. Yet jump on any virtual meeting and what do you see? Everyone staring at their screens!
Another behavior that erodes credibility is the shifty-eyed gaze sellers use to glance from camera to screen to camera, over and over. Shifty eyes are associated with nervousness or suspicious activity – the opposite of what you’re hoping to convey!
Understanding how we’re helping or hurting our virtual credibility is vital to develop those key relationships in sales.
Skill 4: Drawing Out Passive Virtual Audiences
It’s a fact. Customers are more passive in virtual meetings than in person. Not only is this uncomfortable for sellers, but it’s also ineffective as most successful sales calls include a high level of interaction between seller and buyer.
Breaking this pattern of passivity is a seller’s responsibility and requires an arsenal of tools. Yes, good questions and tools can help, but most sellers are unaware that there are some very simple and highly-effective behaviors that can get those passive customers engaged.
Check out this video for a tip that will improve interaction up to 90%!
Skill 5: Confidently Communicating with Customers Not on Camera
One of the consequences of virtual meeting fatigue is that more buyers are choosing to turn off their cameras. Without the ability to see – or often hear - a customer’s reaction, even thick-skinned sellers assume the worst: the customer is not interested, they’re impatient, bored, or even irritated. This often causes the seller to speed up, jump ahead, eliminate pauses and ultimately turn their fears into reality.
Fortunately, actors and reporters have already figured out a way to talk with confidence to an audience they can’t see with a technique called Acting As If. I break this technique down in my new book that won the Gold Medal Top Sales book of 2021, Look Me In the Eye, but here are the first two steps:
1) Mentally project your customer into your camera, and
2) Visualize your customer’s reactions. This technique brings out the best in you and creates a dynamic, more natural conversational pace that keeps your customer engaged.
How to Master These Essential Virtual Skills
Just showing up on video is no longer enough in 2022. Sellers need to learn these essential virtual selling skills and practice them until they become muscle memory, just like our face-to-face selling skills eventually did. Don’t put it off any longer – your competition isn’t!
For information on workshops and self-paced courses to learn these must-have skills, contact me here.