With the COVID-19 pandemic putting in-person activities on hold, sales professionals now face the challenge of engaging with customers in a virtual environment. While many companies still believe that in-person meetings are key to creating stronger customer relationships, virtual meetings still pose many benefits.
According to a Forbes Insight study, many business leaders believe that virtual meetings help save time and money, enable participants to be more flexible in terms of location and timing, and allow participants to multitask, among other things. Thanks to digital tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, businesses and customers can still communicate with one another.
But moving online isn’t always easy; virtual meetings are only effective when done right. How then should sales professionals better engage with customers and achieve their goals in a virtual setting? Here are five ways you can still build strong customer relationships in the digital age.
Be Comfortable Across Platforms
The first step in building customer rapport online is being comfortable with the platform where you engage with customers. What most sales professionals fail to realize is that not all customers have the same knowledge and preference when it comes to using digital tools. Some may find the features of Zoom Cloud Meetings simpler and more user-friendly for external meetings than that of Cisco Webex Meetings. Others may also prefer to use other platforms like Microsoft Teams and Google Meet to avoid time limits.
Find a platform that’s already familiar to your customers and easy for them to navigate so you can engage with them better. With the right platform, you can build long-lasting customer relationships and improve the customer experience. Data from Salesforce shows that 78% of customers will most likely interact with a business again after a mistake if they receive excellent customer service. And if customer retention increases by at least 5%, businesses will also see an increase in profit by more than 25%.
Exude Passion for What You’re Selling
In making a sale, it’s not enough that you know what you’re selling. You need to have the right body language to better engage your audience. People interpret messages better when they’re accompanied by physical cues and verbal tones, as opposed to neutral or passive movements. But body language may be difficult to show when you’re limited to a virtual setting.
When making virtual sales calls, make your movements big, look at the camera, use hand gestures, and use a professional tone when speaking. These actions will help you get your point across and make your products more sellable.
Be Authentic in Building Trust
Authenticity helps sales professionals build trust between them and their customers. In fact, authenticity plays an immensely big role in helping a consumer decide what brands they like and support. Regardless of which market, age group, and income group they belong to, the majority of consumers said that they need to be able to trust a brand to buy from them.
To gain the trust of your customers, don’t only focus on making a sale for the sake of reaching your goals—be honest with them to establish good rapport. Customers appreciate it when you make it all about them and make the effort to connect with them, even if you’re limited to a virtual environment.
While all businesses promise to adhere to the popular phrase “the customer is always right”, some fail to put it into action by ignoring feedback from their customers. Research shows that 42% of companies don’t survey their customers or collect feedback. Moreover, only 12% of customers believe company messaging that says it puts customers first. When you fail to listen to your customers’ concerns, you might risk losing them to another business.
Listen to what your customer needs and get insights from their feedback and reactions to better engage with them. When it comes to virtual selling, learn how to take advantage of review sites and social media to directly drive leads, improve the customer journey, and ultimately understand your customers.
Keep Presentations Easy to Understand
Virtual sales calls aren’t different from in-person sales meetings in terms of presentations. Customers can stay engaged and make important decisions when given information through a visual presentation. But preparing one isn’t always easy, contrary to popular belief.
When preparing a presentation, following a “less is more” approach is key to making it less intimidating. Aim for putting fewer texts, more visuals, and more white space. But be cautious when adding too many visuals—your customer may focus more on sorting through the clutter of your presentation than listening to your pitch. Make sure that the elements of your slides are organized and your entire presentation is easy to understand.
Doing business in the digital age is different now from how it’s usually done 5 or 10 years ago. Nonetheless, sales professionals should still make the effort of building online rapport for customers using new methods. Doing so need not be difficult as long as you know the basics. Dale Carnegie may be able to help in this regard.
Sales professionals can enroll in Dale Carnegie of Singapore’s Virtual Selling course to effectively build customer relationships online. Throughout five sessions that each span three hours, sales professionals can learn how to build the self-confidence and competence needed in virtual selling, become a trusted advisor to your customers, and engage buyers throughout the sales process, among other things.
Moving into the future, businesses should learn how to keep up with digital solutions. Virtual selling is starting to become the norm and may even become the standard once more and more customers start conducting business online as well.