Successfully Engaging with Customers at Each Stage of the Buying Cycle

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As B2B professionals navigate the realities of working from home, salespeople need to blend traditional selling skills with new capabilities to successfully engage, prospect, negotiate, and close deals with customers virtually. Sales leaders understand the winning sales behaviors in this environment, but they are measuring something entirely different.

To investigate the disconnect between the behaviors sellers need to succeed while working remotely and what sales teams actively measure, ValueSelling Associates and Training Industry surveyed 464 sales leaders and sales enablement decision-makers to further explore how to be successful with an increasingly virtual B2B sales model.

The research reveals the sales behaviors that matter most during virtual interactions at each stage of the buyer journey. Sales training helps to change behaviors by empowering professionals with the right sales skills. Our survey asked sales leaders to identify the selling behaviors that matter most when engaging with buyers in virtual interactions. Here’s what it revealed:

Stage 1: Engaging with Prospects

Sixty-one percent of sales leaders rated establishing credibility and trustworthiness as the top behavior for engaging with prospective customers in a virtual selling environment. Developing rapport with people is rated the second most important behavior by 55% of those surveyed. And managing sales calls effectively scores as the third most impactful behavior by 38% of sales pros.

Prospects are unlikely to want to buy from people they don’t trust, so training salespeople to communicate in ways that generate credibility, trustworthiness, and rapport is a critical component of any frictionless buying experience. That’s why good sales training, whether preparing for in-person or remote engagements, includes ample time to help sales and marketing professionals create a compelling—and concise—credibility statement. When practiced artfully, sales reps can use these techniques to quickly build confidence with even the busiest of executives.


Essential Sales Behaviors for Engaging with Customers in Virtual Selling
(Source: ValueSelling Associates)

Stage 2: Prospecting and Qualifying Leads

The most essential behavior for prospecting and qualifying leads in virtual selling is asking good questions and active listening, according to 56% of sales leaders. This behavior is the heart of value-based selling, and it is required more than ever in virtual selling where non-verbal cues are difficult to detect. Listening attentively rather than talking incessantly allows salespeople to uncover the prospect’s needs much faster.

Being tenacious in follow-up is ranked as the second most important behavior by 39% of sales leaders. Consistently dedicating time to B2B outbound sales prospecting, being persistent, and using multiple channels to reach people are necessary behaviors to finding new leads and securing meetings with potential customers.
Additionally, 37% of sales leaders say articulating value is an essential virtual sales skill. When sales teams truly grasp how to sell and communicate value to the prospect— and receive proper training on doing so—they come closer to achieving quota.


Essential Sales Behaviors for Prospecting/Qualifying Leads in Virtual Selling
(Source: ValueSelling Associates)

Stage 3: Negotiating

The most necessary behaviors for negotiating with customers are maintaining rapport with buyers (48%), handling objections (42%), and quantifying value to the buyer (42%).

As a sales rep, if you think about your solution as an investment by the buyer, you are in a prime position to focus the conversation on value, not price. If, however, you communicate price before understanding how the buyer values the investment in your offering, you are at a disadvantage. The key is to refrain from sharing price until you know what the buyer believes they will get in return from their investment.


Essential Sales Behaviors for Negotiating with Customers in Virtual Selling
(Source: ValueSelling Associates)

Stage 4: Closing Deals

Maintaining relationships with existing customers (56%) was the most cited essential sales behavior for closing deals. To keep customers loyal, you need to be a responsive problem solver who serves as a point person for others in your organization. The best sales reps are truly invested in their customers’ success. It’s key to customer retention.

Ensuring a smooth transition to a service team (40%) ranked as the second most essential sales behavior for closing deals. A customer’s impression of a company is shaped by multiple touchpoints across several departments. The handoff between direct sales, inside sales, subject matter experts, and customer service should be seamless.

Outlining what success looks like for the buyer and seller (39%) is another essential behavior to maintain customer relationships. Every sales pro knows to speak to the client’s pain points, but few realize that every organization has pain that it’s not interested in alleviating. At the end of the day, prospects need a compelling reason to invest in a new solution. The solution: tie your offerings to key business drivers already on an executive’s radar. The return on investment (ROI) must be calculable, demonstrable, and impactful enough to create urgency.


Essential Sales Behaviors for Closing Deals in Virtual Selling
(Source: ValueSelling Associates)

Conclusion

Interestingly, our research shows that the behaviors identified to be the most impactful at each stage of the sales cycle have a common thread running through them: authenticity and strong human-to-human connections with customers. The ability to establish credibility and trustworthiness – as well as the ability to develop and maintain a positive rapport with buyers – are essential for successful sales performance in every organization and are critical to closing deals and building long-term customer relationships in a virtual selling environment.

For more information, download the ValueSelling Associates e-book, “The Behaviors and Skills Sales Leaders Care Most About – and How to Measure Them.”

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