With business travel and face to face customer meetings limited due to COVID-19, the selling process has completely changed, particularly for enterprise deals where in-person meetings are often central to closing deals. Sellers now face a completely remote sales cycle, where it’s now feasible to close a six or seven figure-deal without having met the buyers in person.
The art of a virtual negotiation has emerged as a fascinating component of remote sales.
Research from the American Psychological Association shows that individuals in virtual negotiations are less likely to build rapport and trust and are more likely to walk away from a deal. In addition to this, the current situation adds the complexity that individuals on the other side of the computer screen are dealing with increased stress from a pandemic, the constraints of childcare, and other remote work challenges.
As a sales rep, this means that you need to learn new negotiation skills – to negotiate not only virtually but also with individuals in higher emotional states and shorter timeframes.
Insight has gathered some tips on how to negotiate in a virtual world:
- Turn on video: By now you’ve heard this rule everywhere but it's worth repeating. According to a study from Chorus.ai, deals that are won used video 18% more than deals that were lost.
- Make eye contact: Invest in an HD web camera so that people can see you clearly. Angle the camera so that you are able to look directly into the lens instead of to the side, below it, or above the camera. This helps the recipient feel that you are making direct eye contact and are focused on the discussion. If you are using a virtual background, make sure that you don’t look like a talking head and that you are able to be seen from all angles as well.
- Build rapport: Plan to start the conversation by sharing something personal, typically when the other party asks, “how are you?”. It is actually the easiest time to build rapport because everyone is facing the same challenging situation – working remotely.
- Hide self-view and distractions: We can all admit that when self-view is on, it’s extremely tempting to look at yourself and how you appear on the screen. It’s important to minimize distractions, just as you would for an in-person meeting. If you walked into a prospect’s office to negotiate, you wouldn’t be looking at yourself in a mirror or glancing around the room during your conversation. Try to emulate the focus you would have in person.
- Acknowledge attendees: Just as you would shake everyone’s hand in a meeting to acknowledge their presence, you should state each person’s name on the call and greet them. This will encourage participation from all members and allows you to call on others easily for additional viewpoints.
- Watch your tone: With the removal of body language, we are left to judge each other’s emotions via our pitch and tone of voice. Listen to call recordings and ensure your tone of voice is are confident and warm. This ties back to building trust.
Modern day sales negotiations have typically been in person. As long as you bear in mind the guidelines above, it’s possible to emulate in-person negotiations and conversations and put your best foot forward to win large deals.