The way we buy and sell has changed, and perhaps permanently. We have historically relied on the benefits of in-person meetings where we could establish rapport, develop relationships, and enjoy the face-to-face experiences that create energy and foster a shared understanding. The social contract of in-person selling is well known by everyone involved. But for the time being, and perhaps for some extended time to come, we are forced to sell virtually.
The change from in-person to virtual selling transforms the entire dynamic of sales, and the changes are both personal and technical. The interpersonal aspects of virtual selling, for example, simply pale in comparison to the in-person experience. Our hard-earned ability to give a commanding presentation and to read the room for cues and signals no longer seems to meet the need. And the handshake has taken a serious sabbatical.
Sellers are also accustomed to providing customers with sales collateral that they can see and touch and smell, but that ability is gone too, or at least drastically altered. If sellers are going to leave behind something when they engage in virtual selling, that thing will probably have to be virtual as well. In other words, the entire experience of selling has become a virtual one.
Remote Selling versus Virtual Selling
It should be noted that there is an important difference between remote selling and virtual selling. What’s the difference? Remote selling has been around a long time – it’s a phone call or a conference call. There’s nothing new here about remote selling. Like it or not, we pick up the phone and call.
But virtual selling is emerging now. It provides a new place, a digital location, where the selling (and the buying) takes place. The virtual selling platform provides a neutral place where customers and sellers can meet and jointly develop a vision, a value proposition, and a plan. In the virtual selling platform, both customers and vendors can engage creatively and as peers.
As the economy begins to open back up, the lessons we are learning now from virtual selling techniques will certainly follow us well into the future. And as we return to in-person selling experiences, the benefits of virtual selling will stand out in greater relief.
And while it’s not the same as an in-person meeting in a conference room or over lunch at a restaurant, the virtual selling platform can, and will, provide engaging and creative places for sellers and buyers to come together and make business deals happen. This aspect of virtual selling will certainly carry forward as we go back to business as usual, and the way we do business will be different.
Demian is a serial entrepreneur who has founded several successful software technology companies. At Bluescape, he leads technological innovation and product strategy. He currently writes for the Forbes Technology Council.
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