Many of us who started out in direct B2B sales got an either informal or formal education in reading a buyer’s body language: Are they engaged, are they tense, are they being open with us, do they have a real intent to buy, etc. Having come into business with degrees in psychology and counseling, I was well versed in this area. I found the skills useful in helping me know when to slow down the process to address issues that might get in the way of getting to “yes,” and also when to walk away from an opportunity that wasn’t real to begin with.
Over the years, though, a major shift has happened in the world of selling. Inside sales has exploded as a way of engaging customers, and even if you are a direct salesperson today, the amount of time you spending face-to-face with clients has declined noticeably, replaced by interacting with buyers virtually via phone, web meetings, and email.
While these virtual selling techniques are convenient, the question we need to consider is: Are they effective? The following chart, from CSO Insight’s World-Class Sales Practices Study looks at the outcome of forecast deals.
Here we see that of deals we committed to close, 31.2% went to the competition and 21.9% ended up as no decisions. Consider that we are wrong more than half the time, which strongly suggests that we don’t have a full understanding of what is going on in the sales process.
This raises the challenge of how do we get back in touch with clients in a technology driven sales world? One answer is to make more use of technology as sales professionals. New innovations in AI-based sales enablement are starting to come to market that can read a buyer’s “digital body language.” They can analyze the voice conversations you have with prospects over the phone or via web conferencing and give you feedback on their level of interest, commitment, distrust etc.
Other tools are available already today to help win more deals. As opposed to emailing proposals and contracts to clients (and then having no idea what is happening on with those documents once sent, current e-signature solutions can give you insights into the closing process. They can tell you if the documents have been reviewed or not. They can detect whose virtual desk the deal is on when you need the approval of multiple stakeholders, they can also alert you when your own company is delaying the deal by not processing the documents in a timely manner internally.
With virtual selling becoming the standard, versus the exception, going forward we are going to have to adapt to it. Determining ways to validate that buyers are aligned with sellers still needs to be done. Fortunately, the solutions are here to allow you to do so virtually.
Being up to date on new tools and solutions can be a particularly pressing challenge at the beginning of the year, when new targets are in place and there are new sales goals to be met. To learn more about how technology can help, listen to Adobe’s new webinar on “Managing Risks at the End of the Sales Funnel.”