One of the most common themes right now among client needs is mapping out a strategy for how businesses can effectively shift to a virtual sales process. Depending upon the industry, this is not always an easy adjustment. Challenges range from a lack of connection and synergy with your clients, to situations where services must be performed in person and on-site. How can chiropractor adjust your back without touching you? How can a home builder build your home entirely from Zoom? And how can a house cleaning company do their job virtually? (But seriously, if you have ideas on that last one I would love to entertain them!)
The solution isn’t a perfect one. It requires a multifaceted approach where we plan for what we know right now to be possible, and anticipate how things can change moving forward. In some instances processes will need to be put on hold or accomplished in a different manner. And in other instances precautions will need to be followed in order to allow people to conduct business in person out of sheer necessity. Taking all of this into account, here is what I’ve learned so far from helping people transition their traditional business model to a more virtual one.
Don’t wing it – you need a plan.
First and foremost, you need to develop a plan for your virtual sales process. It’s not as simple as “Oh we’ll just get a Zoom account and conduct our meetings virtually.” Great, that’s a start, but what challenges should you anticipate? It’s a lot harder to build a connection and gain buy-in from clients when you’re all looking at one another on a screen. You need to work through every step of your traditional sales process and examine how that will transition virtually. What technologies will you need to use? Do you effectively know how to use them? Does your client? How can you go above and beyond to build a connection and keep your virtual meetings engaging? All of these details need to be spelled out and rehearsed if you want your business to effectively shift to a virtual sales process.
Know what’s possible.
More importantly, you need to know what’s possible for your business. By this I mean, what processes absolutely must be conducted virtually versus which ones must be done in person and on-site. Then you need to consider what’s allowed at this time and what you and your clients feel comfortable doing. Government mandates aside, many people may not feel comfortable meeting face-to-face for quite some time, nor may they feel comfortable allowing someone in their office or home. My recommendation is to map this all out. Think through each likely scenario and develop your business’s response. How can you accommodate your clients’ needs to the best of your ability while functioning safely and respectfully? Be resource and creative with your responses. Technology affords us a lot of creativity, especially as of late. Do your research, ask other businesses, and think outside the box.
Ask for outside perspective.
You don’t know what you don’t know. That’s obvious, but how quickly we forget this important truth. If your business is struggling to find its virtual feet, then ask for help. There are many people out there who consult on this very issue and stand ready to help. Furthermore, an outside perspective will allow you to see your blind spots and identify challenges you might not have anticipated. From minor details like forgetting to make eye contact during a Zoom call, to major issues like needing to deliver something in person to a client, a third-party perspective can help smooth out these kinks and turn them into advantages rather than obstacles. This brings me to…
Find opportunities to make things feel personal.
We’re all feeling a little distant right now – much due to the safety of our families and society. However, there are still many opportunities to create connections, especially between businesses and customers. To make Zoom calls feel more personal to your customer/client, consider creating a special Zoom background that includes their name or logo and a welcome message – even if it’s just for the beginning of the call. Starting things off with a smile and an ice breaker always points things in the right direction. Also look for opportunities within your sales process to make a personal connection. I recently recommended to a client that they create a “care package” for their customers and drop this off at their doorstep before a meeting. Included would be critical items they needed to see in person and review before their virtual meeting that would help to facilitate decisions that needed to be made.
With less social obligations on our schedule, we all have a little more time to put thought and care into how we do business. Why not apply this toward making our clients feel appreciated? Though shifting to a virtual sales process is not without its challenges, there are opportunities and advantages to be found. Most importantly, choosing to be proactive about responding to this change in society will give your business a significant advantage over competitors immediately and well into the future.
Do you find yourself navigating similar waters right now? How has your business adjusted? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.