The present and future of sales is virtualization.
Traditionally, sales has been an on-the-go profession, with reps often traveling between client meetings and pitches. However, the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t so much dent that level of activity as it did force more businesses to adopt remote workforces on the fly.
The result is a fundamental shift in how sales operates. Now, a virtual sales platform is a crucial asset to modern sales departments that understand the potential and opportunities in virtualized sales. Yet undertaking such a holistic transformation is not a simple project. It requires a strategy that addresses the technology needed to support virtual sales, as well as the training, coaching, collaboration and management that comes along with it.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into the dawn of online sales and what advantages a virtual sales platform can provide.
COVID-19 forces sales online, many see it staying that way
For clear reasons, 2020 was a watershed year for sales — and business at-large. Social distancing guidelines and lockdown restrictions made it largely impossible to visit clients in-person. All sorts of sales activities online shifted. And not just that, but the pandemic forced most reps to do their job from a home office or even a kitchen table.
Many sales leaders acted quickly to virtualize their sales. According to a survey from McKinsey & Co., 40% of U.S. respondents said all field sales reps were transitioned to remote work and video conferencing. Just 5% said no action was taken and reps were still active in the field, which is about the same share as U.S. respondents with an entirely remote salesforce (4%).
And if the emphasis on remote sales wasn’t apparent enough with those responses, the survey had other insights. Before COVID, 52% of global respondents said traditional sales interactions were more important to customers, compared to the 48% that preferred digital sales interactions. After the pandemic, those numbers were flipped: Now, 66% said digital sales interactions were more important, with just 34% sticking to traditional methods.
And these digital-first strategies aren’t likely to change anytime soon. A 2020 Gartner survey of chief sales officers found 23% had plans to permanently shift field sales to virtual roles — which brings us to the importance of a virtual sales platform.
What is a virtual sales platform?
A virtual sales platform is a hub software solution from which you can digitally enable and conduct all sorts of sales activities. The best virtual sales platforms will provide you with a range of different tools and capabilities to enable reps and foster productive virtual sales interactions.
Some of the essential features that any virtual sales platform should offer include:
- Simplified communication and collaboration tools
- Streamlined content management solutions
- Video conferencing support
- Integration with other solutions, like CRM, calendar scheduling and social media
- Self-directed learning
In many ways, a sales enablement solution can work as your virtual sales platform. This technology — like Showpad’s enablement platform — can help you accomplish goals like aligning your marketing and sales, sharing content with prospects, documenting client interactions and reporting on team KPIs, fulfilling every role you’d require of a virtual sales platform.
What can you do with a virtual sales platform?
The better question is “What can’t you do with a virtual sales platform?”
With a comprehensive virtual sales platform, your sales team will be empowered to do everything from day-to-day tasks to higher-level activities, such as:
1. Conduct virtual sales meetings
The virtual sales meeting is quickly becoming the standard setting for interactions, and a virtual sales platform will help your reps pull them off seamlessly. Most importantly, such platforms can offer content recommendation and insight tools that show which assets are best for a given client or stage of the sales cycle.
With this intel, your reps can foster more engaging, informative and meaningful conversations in a virtual sales meeting, ultimately driving revenue or nurturing long-term client relationships.
2. Ramp up new hires virtually
Sales doesn’t stop even when the world slows down. To that end, many sales operations are still hiring, if not hiring at an even greater pace, depending on their industry. That means sales managers still need to onboard and train new reps, even if they aren’t able to physically come into the office. A top virtual sales platform will provide your managers with all the tools and resources they need to develop and implement virtual onboarding through training modules, self-directed learning, personalized coaching and analytics.
3. Support a virtual sales event
Conferences, summits and other events have long been fodder for sales interactions. However, these days, such events are more likely to be webinars and virtual trade shows. If your company hosts an annual event, you’ll need to pivot toward virtual environments, and a sales platform can help you pull that off. The right enablement solution will give you the wide capabilities and integrations needed to organize an event across multiple parties. The pay off? A well-run virtual event will put your sales operation at the forefront of your industry and at the top of your customers’ minds.
Showpad is the virtual sales platform you need
Many respondents to the McKinsey survey said that despite shifting most sales roles online, the effectiveness of the move was still uncertain. If you’re struggling to pull off this transformation, an investment in a virtual sales platform will pay for itself over and over again.
Showpad gives sales organizations all the tools and features they need to support a remote sales force and virtualization. From content solutions to training, coaching, analytics and more, Showpad can be the bedrock of your virtual sales tech stack.
Contact us today to learn more or request a product demo.