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Build a strong foundation for virtual selling by connecting and engaging with buyers.

Virtual Sellers: Here’s How to Connect with Buyers and Build Strong Relationships

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Written by Dave Shaby
Chief Operating Officer, RAIN Group

As a classic advertising slogan once reminded customers, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s true now more than ever.

When we could interact face-to-face at events or in meetings, it was easier to attract the attention of a potential buyer and begin making connections naturally. But as a virtual seller, you don’t have the luxury of allowing relationships to unfold organically.

4 Virtual Selling Imperatives(SM)Selling virtually means you have to be more strategic, deliberate, and proactive than ever before if you want to garner attention and start the process of building relationships with buyers.

That’s why Connect is one of the 4 Virtual Selling Imperatives—the key tactics most critical for virtual sales success. In fact, Connect is one of the aspects of selling virtually that is most markedly different from a blended or exclusively face-to-face approach.

Sellers need to make a memorable and favorable impression on buyers so buyers want to focus on them, take them seriously, and engage in a series of conversations before, ultimately, making a purchase. 

There are three key ways virtual sellers can Connect during the virtual selling process.

1. Project Professionalism

Like it or not, we all, including buyers and sellers, judge the people we come in contact with—especially online. Buyers ask themselves, “Is this person someone I want to pay attention to, take advice from, and perhaps buy from?”

Sellers need to project professionalism through their digital presence so buyers answer these questions positively.

Think about it like this: if you’re buying something for your business, who are you going to take more seriously? Someone who shows up on Zoom in a hoodie with disheveled hair and a trash can in their background, or someone with a dress shirt, combed hair, and a tidy background?

Sellers must project professionalism in online meetings. This includes having the right lighting, camera set up, audio quality, background, professional attire, and comfort using technology. First impressions count. Before you say a word, make sure you’re projecting a strong first impression with your buyers.

2. Orchestrate Conversations

When you have the luxury of in-person meetups, you can connect over coffee, at a networking event, or in a live meeting, and conversations can be more organic. There are pauses. Time passes a little more slowly.

In contrast, virtual meetings are a bit more formal: there’s a scheduled start and end time, and everything needs to be faster, tighter, and more organized. Otherwise, meetings won’t go well and things won’t progress to the next step.

To engineer success, sellers must take the lead and orchestrate conversations in a more deliberate way. Know what you want to get out of each meeting and have a plan to ensure you get there. Make sure you:

  • Share the agenda ahead of time
  • Open strong
  • Have questions ready to go
  • Plan to engage and involve the buyer in the conversation with specific questions or virtual whiteboarding
  • Know when you'll wrap (hint: don’t leave it to the last minute of the meeting) and check in before you wrap to ask perception questions, such as, “Did you get what you hoped for?”
  • Close with the next step and follow up with a written summary

Plan to manage your virtual meetings and your time wisely.

3. Develop Rapport

It’s more difficult to make a personal connection in a virtual meeting than it is to do so in an in-person one. Eighty-eight percent of sellers report that developing relationships with buyers virtually is challenging. In fact, it's one of the top 3 virtual selling challenges. But it’s just as important, perhaps more important, than ever.

Developing relationships virtually starts by turning on your video and letting buyers actually see you. When your video is on, you present yourself as more authentic, you can more easily connect with and engage buyers, and you can tailor your energy level to what you’re seeing from the audience. Additionally, you can earn the trust of your buyer: a study by Zoom found that 82% of people find it’s easier to build trust when you can see the other people on a call.

Be sure to turn your video on and to create time and space for rapport building in and around your virtual meetings.

Virtual Sellers Who Connect Well, Open Doors

When you connect well virtually, you lay the foundation for a productive and successful sales journey. You encourage buyers to trust you, and the likelihood of them wanting to make a purchase goes up.

In short, connecting well means you’ve made a strong and lasting first impression. The doors needed to drive sales and relationship success will open for you—and they'll stay open.

View our SlideShare, How to Tackle the Top 8 Virtual Selling Challenges, to learn tips on how to connect with buyers and deal with other seller challenges.

Last Updated August 23, 2023

Topics: Sales Conversations Virtual Selling