By Brad Beatty, Regional Vice President, Business Development
The world has changed for sales organizations, just as it has in so many other ways. Selling virtually became a necessity throughout the pandemic. Now, with the shift to hybrid work, it seems likely that virtual sales will become a more permanent practice. After all, 70% of employees want flexible work options, meaning that flexibility throughout the sales process is crucial for understanding your customers.
As it turns out, that’s the way customers like it. 50% of buyers say that remote work has made the purchase process easier for them, and they are happy to take the sales process online. For sales reps, virtual sales calls are not new. But it may take some further adjustment to make them compatible with evolving learning environments.
Fitting Offline Sales Into Online Practice
Those of us selling at Partner in Publishing have had experience in this area prior to the digital shift in 2020. Several key challenges tend to come into place:
- Keeping people engaged as they experienced video conferencing fatigue.
- Developing relationships within shorter meetings.
- Overcoming the limitations of video calls to pick up on visual cues and body language.
Overall, having conversations that get to the heart of buyers’ wants and needs is often a challenge, due in part to people’s comfort in front of the camera. Sales reps in every industry experience these problems. However, we have seen a few EdTech-specific issues as well:
- Holding productive meetings of large groups of stakeholders with varying levels of tech-savvy and internet bandwidth.
- Providing effective product demos and facilitating trials remotely.
- Managing hybrid meetings with a mix of in-person and remote stakeholders.
- Sharing digital content and sales collateral as efficiently without leaving behind printed material.
Virtual Selling Best Practices
We’ve seen enough to know that it is time to look for ways to make virtual selling better for sellers and buyers. We want to close more opportunities, and customers want to feel that sales reps are putting their interests first. Unfortunately, the research shows that only 23% of buyers feel that companies put the buyer first. We are addressing these concerns with a few new best practices designed to optimize virtual selling with a buyer-first approach.
Come Prepared with Thorough Discovery
Doing your research and showing up to virtual sales meetings with knowledge of your customers’ business builds confidence and makes the customer feel valued. Taking the time to learn about their industry challenges in advance leaves more time during virtual meetings to dig into specific problems they need to solve.
Align with Customers' Goals
Customers may already have ideas about the solutions they need by the time they engage with you. Focusing your efforts on other potential outcomes may feel like a waste of time if you can’t show them how to meet their initial goals. Think of your job as a facilitator – a supportive partner who helps source information, remove barriers, and find use cases that will quickly get the results they want.
Find the Problem and Present the Solution.
Once you know their pain points, zero in on the one that is most important to the customer. Be ready to offer solutions that highlight positive teaching or learning outcomes. Customers don’t have the time or patience to hear about every last feature of your product, but they will be all ears for the one that helps them reach their objectives and makes their lives more manageable.
Be Transparent About Everything
These days, customers do their own research throughout the buyers’ journey. If they want to compare prices or competitive products, they can find information on the internet. Better yet, you can build trust by helping them find said information and being proactive about pricing and product capabilities. By doing so, you can control the narrative and address any concerns in a way that helps customers come to a decision.
There is a good chance that we will never go back to the level of in-person sales we saw before the pandemic. In the EdTech space, virtual selling presents challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, sales reps may need to fine-tune skills and strategies to smooth the process. On the other, customers say they prefer virtual selling and believe it serves them better. So let’s give them that experience and try to make it better. In the end, we’ll all end up getting more of what we want.
Partner in Publishing knows how to design, build, and execute effective business development and sales strategies that deliver top-line efficiencies and bottom-line growth. Our decades of experience in EdTech and dedication to best practices position us as a leader in the space.
To learn more about our virtual sales strategies visit https://partnerinpublishing.com/sales-and-business-development-2/
About the Author
Brad Beatty serves as the Regional Vice President of Business Development at Partner in Publishing (PIP) and has been in the education technology field for over a decade. He is primarily focused on helping schools implement technology that will ensure students have access to affordable and effective course materials.