In the B2B complex sale, more selling is occurring over the telephone than ever before. This ups the ante for effective visual support that makes it easier and faster to communicate important points. But visual support also helps customers convey those points to colleagues, usually without sales rep assistance.
Whether part of a formal inside selling function, or as direct sales people working in the early stages of the customer engagement process, phone meetings and conference calls are the norm, not the exception.
Phone-based sellers can dramatically impact their customers and their sales effectiveness by delivering visual support to voice conversations either just before the call through email, or with live web meeting technology.
For a decade we’ve heard from companies like Webex and Citrix that web meetings can give sales people a better way to conduct sales meetings without travelling to meet with customers.
Well, maybe, but I find myself frequently quoting from Lance Armstrong’s autobiography, “It’s Not About the Bike.” It’s not about the technology.
What’s required to make sales conversations more effective, especially with the use of web conferencing technology?
- Visual Content. Specifically content that supports the conversations sales people have with customers. These are not usually presentations. Without the right content, technology is useless, or worse, it can become a negative experience for customers and frustrating for sales people.
- Easy Instant Access. Most visual content is created and stored as PowerPoint shows — presentations. But a sales conversation is not a presentation. We need easy access to individual slides or groups of slides to address specific customer questions, to support a complex idea, or to deliver a proof point. We need to be able to do it quickly, almost without thinking. We don’t have time to remember which deck has the slides we need, which directory they’re stored in and to extract them so they can be presented.
- Training and Support. This is still a new competency for most sales people, especially if the goal is to not have it turn into a presentation — or worse, a demo! Sales people need training and practice to comfortably use both content and web conferencing technology during their sales calls. They need technical and technique call support in their early stages of use. A regular debrief process can identify missing but required content and quickly make the repository more robust and helpful.
- Infrastructure Support. Unlike webinars and e-learning, many sales conversations are established in an ad hoc manner. Sales people and their customers need easy, instant access to web meetings, including minimal software downloads or plug-ins.
Visuals are engaging. They help not only message delivery, but message understanding. They help people “see” what we’re talking about. Appropriate visual content, used correctly, make phone conversations efficient and effective.
But this shouldn’t be left to sales people to figure out. Make this a part of your support program and it will pay rich dividends.