Blog for Building Materials Companies

Why You’re Struggling to Sell Building Materials Virtually

  |  Posted in Uncategorized

Why You’re Struggling to Sell Building Materials Virtually

This is part two of my series on being more successful with fewer salespeople. Be sure to check out part one if you haven’t yet.

We might eventually need a new name for field sales reps. At the moment, they’re still putting boots to the ground and making sales calls in person. But more and more of their interactions with customers take place virtually.

The shift to virtual sales calls is inevitable. Connecting with customers online is far more cost-effective than sending your salespeople out of the office.

It’s also highly efficient. Your salespeople can complete multiple virtual calls in the time it would take them to visit a single customer in person.

This is a great opportunity to grow your sales without growing your sales team, but only if your sales reps become better at selling online.

Why Virtual Sales Calls Fail

Most salespeople knew the shift to virtual calls was coming. But they had no idea it would come so quickly.

The lockdown abruptly changed the way building materials companies sold their products. It was sink or swim – learn how to sell virtually or watch your sales shrink.

Unfortunately, most salespeople weren’t prepared. After mastering the art of selling face-to-face, they found themselves in Zoom calls, struggling with their usual pitches.

Selling virtually can be disorienting. It’s far more difficult to read the customer’s body language. Mics that cut in and out, video feeds that lag and all sorts of small distractions can ruin the rhythm of your conversation. It’s almost impossible to tell whether the customer is starting to tune you out, which means you don’t know whether you should keep talking or if you’re just rambling.

Salespeople learned this the hard way, with back-to-back stressful and unsuccessful sales calls. Even now, many salespeople aren’t nearly as good at selling virtually as they are in person.

After speaking with countless customers and spending many hours in virtual calls, I’ve identified some common problem areas with virtual sales calls.

Four Problems with Appearance

  1. Your image is blurry. This one has a very simple fix: keep the lens on your camera or laptop monitor clean. But many people don’t take the time to give their lens a quick wipe before an important call.
  2. There’s too much light behind you. Make sure the lights are shining on your face, not the back of your head. When your background is too bright, it obscures your face, which makes you far less personable.
  3. You’re not dressed for success. We gave everyone a bit of leeway when we couldn’t go into the office. Working in your sweatpants and a t-shirt didn’t seem out of place – we were all at home, after all. But now the professionalism is coming back and you should dress accordingly. You wouldn’t wear a football jersey to meet the customer in person, so you shouldn’t dress that way over Zoom either.
  4. Your background is distracting. You want your customer’s attention focused on you, not what’s going on behind you. You also want to keep the background tidy and reasonably professional, since that background will influence the customer’s opinion of you.

Bad Audio

How you look on a virtual call matters. Arguably, how you sound matters even more.

If a customer has a hard time hearing you in person, they’re likely to make an effort to understand you. They might ask you to repeat yourself, encourage you to speak up, or look for a quiet place where you can talk.

On a virtual call, that’s unlikely. A customer who struggles to hear you will probably start multitasking and tune you out.

That’s the last thing you want, so make sure the customer can hear you loud and clear. Test your setup ahead of time to make sure your audio is flawless. Take the time to adjust your mic or your speaking volume until you sound the way you should. Getting this right can be the difference between a customer giving you their undivided attention or half-listening to you while working on another task.

Ineffective Presentations

Every salesperson has a set of tools they can rely on during a sales call. Depending on the situation, you might pull out product samples, hand out brochures, walk the customer through a demonstration, or give a presentation.

That’s why so many salespeople flounder online. Because on a virtual sales call, they’re down to a single tool: the presentation.

Worse, those presentations are usually designed to be delivered face to face. Unfortunately, they don’t always translate so well to video chat.

Most sales presentations are too long and crammed with too much information. That’s not so bad when you’re in the same room as the customer. You can pay attention to their reactions, stop and ask questions when they look bored or confused and skip over anything that isn’t grabbing their attention.

That’s tough to do on a virtual call, however. It’s harder to read the customer and know when you should keep going, take a pause, or gloss over the details.

The best way to overcome this is to simply stop and check with the customer frequently. The sooner you stop talking, the more the customer gets to speak. That keeps them engaged in the call and significantly improves your odds of success.

Lack of Preparation

Many customers complain that they spend too much time logging into meetings with salespeople who haven’t done enough preparation.

In all fairness, this is a problem with in-person sales calls as well. But customers are less inclined to be patient with your lack of preparation when you aren’t going out of your way to talk to them face to face.

In either case, it’s a problem that needs to be fixed. There’s no excuse for going into a call without at least taking a few minutes to look at the customer’s website and LinkedIn profile, especially when you’re already sitting at their desk.

Knowing a thing or two about the customer’s business will significantly improve the results of your sales calls. So, never log into a call without first understanding the person on the other end of it.

Virtual Selling Skills Are Essential

These are all simple improvements that will make a noticeable difference in your results.

If you’re a salesperson, these are changes you can make yourself. You should be taking the initiative to make these improvements. They will make you a better salesperson, improve your performance and help you adapt when in-person sales calls become less common.

If you’re in a leadership position at your company, encourage your sales team to improve their virtual selling skills. It’s a small and easy step that will help you grow your sales and become more successful.To make your sales team more effective, you need to be creative and think outside the box. Improving the performance sales people is one of the many important issues we will be covering at the upcoming Whizard Summit.

There are still a few open spots. If you want help improving your sales, join me and other industry experts on May 1st and 2nd in Austin, Texas.

What is the biggest challenge to your sales growth?

Contact me to discuss how I can help you grow your sales.

About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

My mission is to help building materials companies be the preferred supplier of their customers and to turn those customers into their best salespeople. Contact me to discuss your situation.