In-person vs. virtual selling: How modern sales teams can operate after COVID

The average cost of a face-to-face sales call is reportedly $250 – $500. With virtual sales calls, you can talk to your prospects for a much lower price. Virtual sales calls are an easy and inexpensive way to start building relationships and generating leads.

Virtual sales calls have become more and more popular in the past few years, especially during and now after the global pandemic. The most apparent advantage of virtual sales calls is that they can be conducted from anywhere and anytime. This means that companies can save office space while still conducting meaningful business conversations with customers and prospects. Salespeople can save time by using virtual sales calls to get on the radar of potential buyers or secure new leads.

Another advantage is the cost savings of not having a physical presence at an event or trade show. Virtual sales calls also offer a level of confidentiality. 

people on a video call
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

The main disadvantage of virtual sales is that it’s hard for people who don’t know each other well to ‘read’ one another’s body language over video conference. It’s cheaper to talk on the phone or via a web conference call than fly across the country for an in-person meeting. But even though we’ve relied heavily on virtual selling over the last few decades, there is no substitute for face-to-face interactions with customers.

In-person sales teams have been around since the beginning of time. But with so much technology available, many people believe that virtual selling will replace in-person interactions. However, some critical differences between in-person and virtual selling make them better suited to different situations.

Virtual benefits:

  • Lower costs per conversation
  • Few geographical limitations
  • The “best” technical resources are more easily leveraged

Virtual selling problems

  • More challenging (but not impossible) to create quality relationships
  • Not everyone participates
  • Your busy slide deck competes with you
  • Your slide deck crowds everyone out on the screen (encouraging participants to turn off their cameras)
  • It can be more challenging to have a structured meeting

Virtual selling lends itself to social media selling.

One of the true benefits of virtual selling is that it integrates easily into your social selling campaign. Social media has become an integral part of the business landscape and is constantly evolving. Managers, executives, and salespeople need to stay on top of these changes to continue to grow business. One way to do this is by following social media trends through blogs or other online resources.

close up of human hand
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The benefits of social selling are vast. According to a study from the University of British Columbia, successful salespeople who use social media have an average income $36,000 higher than their counterparts. Social media helps generate leads and create long-term relationships with prospects so they can become customers. The tools are available for every industry to help you engage in the most valuable way possible: through one-to-one conversations with people on their favorite channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

LinkedIn has stated that salespeople that are skilled in social selling:

  • have 45% more sales opportunities
  • are 51% more likely to hit quota
  • will outsell their peers 78% of the time
  • are 3X more likely to go to Presidents Club

Social selling is about leveraging your social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and ultimately achieve your sales goals. This sales technique enables better sales, lead generation, and sales prospecting processes and eliminates the need for cold calling. Building and maintaining relationships is easier within the network that you and your customers trust.

With social selling, you can:

  1. Create a professional brand
  2. Focus on the right prospects
  3. Engage with insights
  4. Build trusted relationships

Equally crucial for the benefits of social selling is the ability to measure it. To help quantify the value of social selling, LinkedIn produced the first-of-its-kind social selling measurement: The Social Selling Index (SSI). The Social Selling Index is scored on a scale of 0 – 100 based on your LinkedIn activities relating to the four pillars of social selling. Their internal study found a strong correlation between achieving sales goals and sales reps with high SSI.

In-person sales calls are becoming increasingly less effective. One study found that only 10% of in-person interactions lead to a sale. So if you want your company to maximize its profit margin, video conferencing for presentations is the way forward. Video conferencing for presentations can have many benefits over in-person interaction: it’s more efficient, cheaper, and doesn’t require travel time or expenses!

Technology has changed the way we work. We can now do everything from our laptops or smartphones, and so many people are embracing this new way of working that in-person meetings are becoming less frequent. Video conferencing for presentations is an excellent alternative to in-person sales calls. It enables you to have an interactive discussion with your customers without worrying about time zones or flight costs. With video conferencing for presentations, you save on travel costs and get more done during your workday – what more could you ask for?

Curiosity Kills the Quota

I recently spoke to Robert Gillette, the host of the podcast Reclaiming Sales. It was a great conversation! We discussed many things that will benefit beginning sales professionals. Specifically, we discussed:

  1. Get to know your prospects better, understand how they make and lose money.
  2. Get curious, and stay that way… even when you’ve heard your 100th prospect tell you the same thing.
  3. Build your belief, it will keep you company when times get tough.

You can listen to our conversation by subscribing to Robert’s podcast here. You can also subscribe by going to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and many more that are listed here.

The following is a transcription of our conversation for those that prefer to read rather than listen. The transcription is as close as possible to the spoken word but effort was made to try to make it a little more readable with fairly grammar correct phrasing, sentence structure, and paragraph structure. Where the commentary overrode grammar or the use of synonyms, the spoken word was chosen.


Announcer 0:30  

You’re listening to Reclaiming Sales because you don’t need to sell your soul to be successful with your host and fellow salesman, Robert Gillette.

Robert Gillette 0:41  

Robert Gillette
Reclaiming Sales Podcast Host

Hey everybody, welcome back to the show. My name obviously is Robert Gillette, and I have a new friend of mine. I know everybody I meet on the show, I say my new friend, but it’s true so far—a gentleman named Sean O’Shaughnessey. Honestly, the reason why you’re on the show, to be totally honest, is he, you engage with me, you commented on the things that I post, and you send me messages. And you know, when you’re doing a podcast, it’s like screaming into the void. And so when the void reaches back out and gives you feedback, it’s incredibly helpful. I’m used to performing on stage, in general, so I just wanted to have you on the show, first of all, to get your perspective on what we’ve been talking about so far. But, still, you also have some pretty deep claws into this whole sales game as well, and you have some perspectives that I just want to explore and see what we can uncover over the next 20 minutes or so. But before we get onto that, Sean, why don’t you, I guess before you take off your sales guy hat, what do you sell and who do you sell it to.

Sean O’Shaughnessey 1:42  

I am the CEO of a company called New Sales Expert. I sell sales management to companies with bad sales management or don’t know how to have sales management.

Robert Gillette 1:56  

Okay, and we don’t have a lot of, you know, people on the show who aren’t salespeople. But I guess my first question to you before we move too far into this is. Do you think it’s harder to sell to salespeople or to sell to non-salespeople? Is it hard to sell to people who sell for a living?

Sean O’Shaughnessey 2:16  

Sean O’Shaughnessey
CEO and President
New Sales Expert, LLC

So it’s I think it’s easier to sell to salespeople because we like to hear a good pitch. I actually sell, though, to the CEO that is frustrated because he doesn’t know how to manage a sales force. So that’s actually whom I sell to. And that’s the problem I solve.

Robert Gillette 2:32  

Okay, so you’re actually selling to a CEO or someone at that C suite level.

Sean O’Shaughnessey 2:37  

Correct. I’m usually selling to the founder of the company. And he is in a situation where he can’t figure out how to manage salespeople, how to recruit salespeople, and how to make salespeople better. So that’s what I do for him or her.

Robert Gillette 2:51  

Unfortunately, mostly him, but we’re working on that diversity by brute force. We’re doing it as a country anyways. 

So let’s, let’s roll this back to the beginning of your career, how did you get into sales. And why did you stick with it all those years?

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Top Sales People Want To Work On The Best Teams

Top Sales People Want To Work On The Best Teams

I recently met with one of my clients to discuss the company’s sales team. They had ten salespeople on their team.

Five of the salespeople had brought in about 40-45% of the company’s revenue, and two others also brought in about 40-45% of his revenue. A bigger problem, though, was the remaining three that only brought in 10-15%. Those three were dragging down the team.

The biggest problem that the President was starting to realize was that the top two performers were becoming disgruntled and would probably leave the company. As I did my initial interviews with these two, they confided in me they had become frustrated that every time the company needed more revenue, the challenge was given to them to bring it in the door.

To keep their spirits up, I told them that these challenges were an honor. Like in basketball, you have your best players on the floor when the score is tied, with a minute left in the 4th quarter. One of them replied, “But if the 7th man would have made his four free throws, two layups, and grabbed those two defensive rebounds in the 3rd quarter, the score wouldn’t be tied at the end.”

Great people want to be surrounded by great people. Top athletes want to play on the same team as other top athletes. Top salespeople want to work in the same company as other top salespeople.

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