For the past year, sales professionals the world over have had to relearn their craft. Gone were the days of body language, reading the room, and turning on the charm as we were forced to say "Hello" to digital selling.

The technology we are using frequently and heavily as we begin 2021 has been around for quite some time but was widely underused by sales professionals prior to the surge of remote work. Before the coronavirus pandemic forced us into Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting, a virtual setting would have been last on many sales professionals' lists of preferred meeting options. After all, nothing solidifies a deal like a firm handshake and genuine pat on the back on your way out the door. Not only is travel significantly limited today, but a handshake and pat on the back would be entirely blasphemous in our COVID world. So, what is a salesperson to do?

Holding discovery meetings, product presentations, and contract negotiations in a digital environment has become the norm over the past 10 months and it will likely stay this way. Most customers have come to realize that a lower-pressure, digital environment may be preferred to a high-pressure in-person interaction. It is impossible to predict exactly what the future of sales will look like, but a hybrid of in-person, virtual, and phone/email communication can be expected.

So, how can a sales professional use their expertly honed sales skills in this environment?

Here are a few measures you can take to set yourself up for digital selling success every single time:

  1. Set the Stage: During initial communication with your client or prospect, determine the expectations for your meeting. If you are planning a Zoom/digital meeting, be sure to give your customer or prospect advanced notice that he or she will be asked to join on camera. Many people may not be "camera ready" without a head's up. A great way to set the stage when sending your meeting invite is to include something like, "I'm looking forward to putting a face to your name when we meet on Zoom in a couple of days!"
  2. Create an Exciting Collaborative Environment: Share with your customer or prospect all the capabilities that your virtual meeting platform has. Allow them to annotate your presentation, take control of the screen, share their own screen, chat in questions, react using emojis and use other forms of media. In many ways, a presentation in a virtual setting can be even more exciting than an in-person situation. Just be sure to familiarize yourself with the inner workings of your virtual meeting program so as not to distract from your presentation with technical errors. Also, always have a backup plan if the inevitable happens and technology fails you.
  3. Don't Give Away the Cow: When inviting a client or prospect to a virtual conversation for an initial meeting, give them snippets of information on why this meeting will be a beneficial use of their time. Your clients are spending all day on Zoom calls, too. They do not want to waste their time with another presentation of things they already know! When you are communicating with a customer or prospect before they meet with you, be sure to let them know what you plan to address in your meeting and how. Sell the milk without giving away the cow! That way, your customer has a vested interest in attending your meeting but does not feel as though they were not given any material to address their initial concern. If they are looking for pricing information for comparison, let them know you'll bring up a full pricing sheet during your meeting and provide the document for their leisurely review afterward.

Digital selling does not mean you have to be at a disadvantage with your client or prospect. It means you may need to engage your creative side to generate interest and maintain engagement along the way. Set the stage for your virtual meeting in advance, create an energizing and collaborative environment, and don't give away the cow.