Sales Enablement

Building Trust and Customer Relationships in a Virtual Environment

sales enablement

What if today’s unprecedented hybrid world can help build stronger relationships with customers? What if we became the type of sellers we always aspired to be? The type that genuinely care about customer success, challenges, and share vital information for their insight?

The general sales presumption is that face-to-face is the most productive approach. Most sellers interact with customers over technology, but also rely on in person moments for relationship building.

Seller and customer trust and value matter; it’s what builds and sustains a firm foundation. We can build them remotely… in fact, we might even be able to do it better through adjusting our approach.

The fundamentals don’t change. There are key components, called the 4 R’s: Be Relevant, Be Real, Be Relatable, and Be Reliable.

Be Relevant

In today’s fast paced news and business environment, it’s important to tailor conversations around importance and development. News cycles fast, so being proactive with information and dialogue is essential to meet the changing needs of customers.

In a remote environment, be sure to “check in” with your client to ensure clarity and resonation of ideas. This is critical when you’re unable to read body language. Ask confirming questions to ensure relevance. Ask exploratory questions to improve client knowledge.

The more you learn about the client and their reactions, the stronger your insight. For example, if you gain insight on question types and the approach of clients, you can identify trends to share. This provides value and perspective for problem solving.

Be Real

Authenticity and vulnerability matter now more than ever. Empathizing with customer challenges and sharing your own helps establish a more authentic foundation for your relationships.

In a remote environment, don’t be afraid to turn on your webcam. Think about what items are behind you and observe what is behind them. Keep it brief, but ask questions about their remote environment, what challenges, and what opportunities remote work presents for them. 

Listen deeply to the challenges they face and think about where you can help. Think beyond the product you have to offer. For example, we see companies extending financing terms for customers impacted by current financial realities and other companies offering free digital services.

Be Relatable

We all have preferences for how we communicate and process information. When stress is high and conversations are critical, meet your customers where their preferences land. Customers who prefer a personal experience during stressful times are craving communication. They want a listener as they talk through the challenges they experience. 

For instance, customers who are structured and task-oriented may like minimizing “small talk” to complete tasks and daily goals. It’s important to confirm that the tone and nature of conversation align with your customers’ current preferences.

Always consider your client’s generational set. Research proves that each generation processes change and stress in different ways. In addition, they also perceive communication differently. You must match to your clients’ generational preferences.

It’s extremely difficult to know body language and identify preferences over the phone. However, you can listen for them. If the customer’s tone is abrupt or rushed, make sure you lead with value. Ask for their goals or anything they’d like to add to the agenda. If the customer starts talking on a personal level, it’s indication that they need more conversation. If the customer pauses or appears frustrated, they might need a visual connection.  

Be Reliable

Reliability comes in two forms:

  • Being a reliable source of information
  • Being a person on whom your customers can rely

In tumultuous times, it is important to bring truthful and factual insight and information. The more you do this, the more customers will depend on you as a reliable source of information. It is essential to establish a level of reliability above your competitors. 

Reliability means following up and following through. It is important to take note when a customer needs something and following up proactively. Essentially, when your customers wear many hats, it’s about finding that piece that you can assist with.

You can be reliable in a remote setting. Share valuable information, listen to needs, be consistent, and follow up. Be sure to express yourself clearly and over communicate. 

In turbulent times, show that you care more about customer success than sales. Engage them in conversation about objectives and challenges. Find ways that you can help them become successful. Be the person who helps to make their job easier, the one that is accountable, the one that goes above and beyond.

The current environment causes one to prioritize every second of every day. Trust matters more than ever… when customers are searching for who they trust to deliver in this sales environment. This is the time where customers need more connection… remotely or not!

We’re constantly talking with leading sales organizations who are revamping their customer engagement approach. Let’s have a conversation about ways to navigate this new selling landscape.

About The Author

Author photo Rachel understands what makes salespeople tick. She specializes in strategies that drive the change needed to produce results. She has managed many sales force transformations, helping sales leaders realign organizations and define new selling models. She has partnered with many organizations across industries to design and deliver sales training, coaching, and change management programs. Rachel has a knack for crystallizing complex concepts into a single picture with high-impact messages.

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