A long and firm handshake. This gesture used to signify the end of a long sales process. At that moment, the prospect and the salesperson developed a solid relationship, even a friendship, after meeting in person several times at each other’s office, and more often than not, for a good amount of after-work cocktails.
Not anymore. This form of conducting business-to-business sales is becoming increasingly rare. Technology has made possible and frequent closing deals remotely, thanks to online meetings, video conferences, and e-signature tools. Even complex six-figure deals with dozens of stakeholders can be closed when both parties are thousand of miles apart.
There are different reasons why you may not be able to sell in person. Perhaps you sell a product worldwide, or maybe you need to manage work-from-home teams. Whatever the reason, any sales representative, armed with the right tools, can navigate through the sales process remotely.
This post goes through the requirements and tactics to do effective B2B sales from anywhere in the world. Let's take a look at:
How to do remote sales effectively
1. General setup
Whether you work at a fancy office in a trendy part of town, or you belong to a work-from-home team, you want to build up a comfortable workspace. A sushi chef and a luxury espresso machine might take things a tad too far, but at minimum you want a place where you can enjoy a moment of silence to jump into a call and run a demo. Soundproof booths guarantee privacy in the office, and a quiet room at home is more suitable than the cafe around the corner.
That’s just for the physical space. Next, you want to invest in sales technology. The good news is you need most of these digital tools regardless of whether you conduct face-to-face sales or go all-remote. Modern sales can’t escape technology.
There’s no shortage of sales tools in the market—here’s a list of the best 100 sales tools. Technology drives modern sales methods, and it helps salespeople understand which prospects are most likely to be successful with their product or service, when to reach out to those prospects, and what they should be talking about. They also save time on tedious and time-consuming administrative tasks. Finally, they also enable all-remote selling.
Sales tool categories include customer relationship management (CRM), sales intelligence, sales acceleration, sales gamification, sales analytics, video conferencing, e-signature, account-based marketing, marketing automation, and customer service software. Amongst those categories, video conferencing and e-signature software will be essential for doing remote B2B sales effectively.
Below are some of the tools we use at Vainu:
- Zoom, for video meetings.
- GetAccept, for electronic signatures.
- Slack, for internal communication.
- Notion, for work collaboration.
- Planhat, for customer success.
- Pipedrive as a CRM.
- HubSpot, for marketing automation.
- Vainu, for... well, everything else.
Key takeaway: Overcommunicate. Working-from-home employees won’t bump into each other by the coffee machine and have a chance to chat. Therefore, communication becomes key. Write, chat, and call much more than what your natural tendency would be.
Commit to teamwork
Remote teams demand new collaboration skills. If team members only meet in-person during an annual sales kickoff, building company culture and strengthening teamwork is undoubtedly a challenge. To perform at the highest levels, people who work on remote teams must learn to collaborate and communicate in different ways.
Create routines to encourage collaboration. For example, you can start the day together with a short briefing session, even if it’s over a video call. Book regular sessions to share knowledge and success stories. Chat and emails can lead to frequent misunderstandings and confusion, so choose to pick up the phone and call and teammate more regularly that what you would do.
Prospecting is the step of the sales process less affected by remote work. Regardless of their location, a good salesperson must turn prospecting into a daily habit. Only when prospecting is routine, salespeople can maintain a healthy pipeline that holds a steady stream of prospects.
If you work remotely, your scheduling is likely to be more flexible, so you can allocate peace-and-quiet time to find better prospects to target whenever it’s convenient. Just remember, prospecting is always a priority and part of your routine. To manage inbound leads, book a recurring video meeting with your marketing team.
A properly clean CRM and solid internal processes will make prospecting much easier. Feeding fresh and reliable company data into your CRM (a data enrichment process) will reveal critical data points that will reduce prospecting to checking boxes for preferred company characteristics in a dynamic company database. Additionally, a sales intelligence tool can help you filter out prospects matching your ideal customer profile from a larger pool of leads.
Key takeaway: At this stage, write down to your CRM everything necessary. This way, all the essential insights will either be passed to the next salesperson working on the case or the customer team when the prospect becomes a client.
In today’s always-connected world, It goes without saying you can email or call a prospect from anywhere in the world. However, when you reach out, make sure you’re a quiet place with a solid connection—don’t risk a call dropout.
Despite the location, ensure you perfect your pitch and have a data-driven reason to reach out.
Key takeaway: For managers and sales directors, giving feedback on calls can be challenging if their sales reps are spread out. It is important that they’re committed to still provide feedback, especially with more junior team members. If you have software to record the calls that's great—if not, arrange training sessions with mock calls regularly.
3. Remote Meetings
Technology made communication across the world easier instantly, and yet nothing beats a face-to-face conversation. Without body language or the possibility of extending a meeting into after-work drinks, sales reps need to nail a virtual meeting to be effective and successful in doing remote B2B sales.
The secret? Practice, patience, and preparation. And a lot of them.
1. Choose a video conferencing tool (and learn to use it)
This is a no brainer. We already wrote above video conferencing tools must be part of your sales technology stack. Some of these tools are as simple as pushing a button, and some others have way too many features. Whatever the tool of your choice, spend some time learning how to use it. You’ll need to feel confident with the tool when the demo effect will happen—and it will happen. Technology hiccups can ruin any meeting. Pro tip: Test and make sure everything works whenever the software updates.
Do your homework. During a virtual meeting, mumbling and hesitation will be much more evident.
2. Prepare well for the meeting
Stepping into a meeting unprepared is the worse mistake a sales rep can make. With confident body language and a good dose of charm, a seasoned salesperson can improvise and hide their unreadiness. However, during a virtual meeting, mumbling and hesitation will be much more evident.
Before any meeting, do your homework and research the prospect and the company. On the one hand, the more you know, the more professional you will be perceived. On the other hand, if you know your prospects’ needs and situation, you’ll be more pointed and relevant—exactly what buyers expect. Remember, generic pitches have no place in today's world of informed buyers. Has there been any major change at the company lately? Any new hires? What technology do they use? Are they in growth mode? Pro tip: sales intelligence tools will give valuable clues about a company without you having to spend countless hours scouring the Internet. Extra pro tip: Vainu for CRM places brings this information directly into your CRM.
Finally, find out as much as you can about who’s participating in the meeting. What are their roles? Will they be part of the decision-making process?
Want to find all prospects matching your ideal customer profile? Request a demo now!
3. Break the ice, lighten the mood
When you visit a prospect’s office, there are many opportunities to warm up and break the ice. Maybe they give a short tour of their office. Or you chit-chat over coffee. Before you cut to the chase, you’ve got to know each other for a few minutes. During those few minutes, you might even gain new insights on the company’s needs and challenges.
Virtual meetings don’t offer these possibilities. They’re usually tightly scheduled and, more often than not, the clock’s ticking. For the most part, a virtual meeting lacks the social codes of face-to-face settings. Greetings and introductions are fast, the agenda rolls quick. To create a more personalized meeting environment, turn on your camera (and encourage other participants to use it, too). Talk about yesterday’s game, tell a personal anecdote, or crack a joke. And, more importantly, never forget to make a round of introductions, so all participants have the opportunity to present themselves. Your goal is to make the conversation more welcoming and lively.
4. Prepare excellent presentation materials
It’s the era of slide decks. Screen sharing is going to be a critical part of a virtual meeting, and even during video conferences, chances are participants will look at the slides more than your expressions to the camera. You guessed it. You need a kick-ass slide deck. Use visually impactful content, throw in a funny GIF to keep your audience’s attention. Pro tip: let your Marketing team design the deck. They’re the experts. Extra pro tip: Stay on brand.
Do you sell software and need to run a demo? Practice, practice, and practice. Script your demo based on your company’s sales playbook. Be brief and show only the features that address your prospect’s pain points.
Do you offer a service? Show slides with proven results, such as quotes from satisfied customers, or an excerpt from a report you wrote after a successful project.
5. Ask questions, answer questions
We live times of shortening attention span—the average is eight seconds. During a virtual meeting? It’s even worse. Nobody will notice if participants are browsing their favorite news feed. During a virtual meeting, your challenge is to attract the full attention of your prospects, and to make sure the buyer understands what you have to offer.
Keep participants engaged by asking questions. Address them by their first name to catch their attention and make the conversation personal. Asking questions will also give you the opportunity to understand your prospects more. As an example: “Emma, is your team using X tool?”
Don’t forget the meeting is about them, not you. You’re there to help, not sell. Allow questions during the whole presentation. This not only keeps the participants engaged, but also give you to gather extra information that may become very valuable later in the sales process.
6. Make a clear next step
The call is over. You close your laptop and put away your headphones. What’s next?
You should know the answer before you hang up. Every meeting should conclude with a clear list of action points. Make clear what happens next. If you agree on a future call, schedule it already! If you feel the company isn’t a good match and you can’t deliver according to their expectations, say so!
The key to perfect follow-up sequence to stay on top of what’s happening at the prospect company.
Filled with uncertainty, the follow-up phase is always hard. Maybe you walked out of the meeting feeling positive, ecstatic about your chances of closing the deal. This, of course, doesn’t always guarantee your prospects feels the same way. An in-person meeting can give a much better indication of what’s in a prospect’s mind, but a virtual meeting not so much.
How often do I need to stay in contact? Am I pushing too much? A successful follow up requires a well-timed sequence that builds upon the momentum generated during the meeting. Wining and dining Don Draper style isn’t probably needed, and remote channels can be equally effective. The key is to stay on top of what’s happening at the prospect company. And for that, following trigger events is a very simple strategy. A trigger event gives you a good reason and angle to approach. With a sales intelligence tool in your arsenal, you’ll get notified of these events as they happen.
Like streaming music compared to playing vinyl records, using an e-signature isn’t as solemn as signing a piece of rugged white paper with a fountain pen. It does the work. Electronic signatures increase contract speed, enhances security, and lowers transaction costs.
Pro tip: If your client is new to e-signatures, schedule a call with your prospect to go through the contract and platform together.
Remotely or not, a sales cycle doesn’t end until you evaluate what went right and what went wrong. Like prospecting, evaluation should part of your routine, so you can iterate and improve. Commit to track and measure every customer interaction you have, and write everything on your CRM or a spreadsheet like this one.
Things to remember:
- Measure everything: You can download this Sales Activity Tracking Spreadsheet for help.
- Be systematic: Commit to activity numbers you're sticking with to avoid failing.
- Get feedback and share knowledge: Communicate frequently with the team and participate in internal training.
Reporting plays a vital role in the day-to-day management of any sales organization. When teams work remotely, your reports must go deep, so everybody understands where the company is heading at any point time. Frequent and transparent reporting will serve as effective communication and gather the team around common; even team members might be physically apart.
If you’ve built your sales tech stack correctly, your CRM and its countless features are now the backbone of your sales process. As such, your CRM receives data from many different sources and acts as your reporting tool. It’s, therefore, imperative that your CRM data is well-organized and up-to-date, so you can quickly generate accurate reports and be able to act upon promptly before your sales process derails. In addition to the data they provide, many sales intelligence tools include control options that allow you to see the results of your sales efforts and guide your team to better results.
Keep selling (remotely)
Being successful in remote B2B sales is a skill that requires practice—just as much as its face-to-face counterpart. The good news is, most of your existing sales skills will transfer, and with the help of modern sales tools, you'll not only be functional, but thriving in a short period of time. In addition, it comes with its own set of benefits: wider reach, less time spent in transit, and more of an opportunity for a healthy work/life balance.
Just be sure that remote sales doesn't mean operating solo. Salespeople, and humans for that matter, rely heavily on social interaction—not only when influencing their prospects, but also through the camaraderie of the team. Schedule interactions with your teammates consistently, overcommunicate what you're working on, and make sure you're still sparring and learning from your colleagues. It's balance that's key, and with the right routines, you'll enjoy remote sales as much as the alternative.