Customizing offerings to customer needs has always been part of a successful sales playbook. Now it’s also about customizing communication modes, finding the right mix of face-to-face and virtual personal selling, along with digital outreach and customer self-service. Success requires tailoring connections at each buying/selling step to the knowledge and preferences of buyers, which in turn are evolving rapidly.

What is the role of Salespeople?

Salespeople play critical roles in many circumstances. Even as customers spend more time interacting through digital channels, salespeople bring value to both new and existing customers, while helping align buying and selling organizations around a mutually valuable solution.

They bring in new customers

Salespeople still have an important role with customer acquisition.

In complex situations, digital connections alone can’t match salespeople’s ability to bridge mutual knowledge gaps with new customers.

They can learn about customer needs and uncover latent needs. Salespeople can orchestrate the shaping of the offering and highlight the sources of customer value.

They bring value to existing customers

With expansion sales, the role of salespeople as mutual-knowledge-gap closers continues. And even as more cross-selling and up-selling shift to digital self-serve channels, companies are adding roles to help customers realize value.

Usage by customers is the key to renewal and growth, and usage depends on value.

When a buying organization has multiple decision influencers, salespeople strive to build consensus. An under-appreciated role for salespeople is to also harmonize thinking within their own organization.

Finding the Sweet Spot for Virtual Connection

As simple seller-buyer engagements pivot decidedly to digital, customers continue to turn to salespeople for help with addressing complexity. However, many of the connections once made in-person have moved to virtual. Inside sales roles and hybrid roles are fast replacing traditional field sales roles.

Virtual works when sellers and buyers have a trusted relationship. In such cases, almost any sales activity can be done virtually. Examples abound. The strategy has been highly effective for generating ideas and support.

Virtual works for motivated buyers and differentiated offerings. In these instances, virtual selling can work for new customers and products, not just for repeat sales.

Leveraging the Power of Virtual  Selling and Avoiding the Pitfalls

Sellers are quickly learning that effective virtual selling requires more than merely shifting what was once done in-person to a video or phone interaction. The true power of virtual is realized by leveraging its unique advantages. Both buyers and sellers can assemble stakeholders and experts from multiple locations. Meetings can be recorded. Participants can quickly look up information and share it on the screen. Digital and AI-driven prompts can guide discussions.

Still, virtual selling isn’t right for every situation. Virtual doesn’t work for some hands-on activities, such as demonstrating physical aspects of products. And virtual is less effective with customers who don’t typically spend time at a computer.

Src: Harvard Business Review