SEO expert and marketing copywriter specialising in writing about technology, marketing, branding, strategy and thought leadership for Articulate Marketing. Lover of Jack Kerouac, strong coffee and travelling.
The B2B Brand Differentiator
Is your business brand more milquetoast or marketing genius? Bland or bold? Try our Differentiator to find out!
Read this article in our brand new Speed Reading Mode
'Sales is no longer a firm handshake, but a meeting of minds.'
- Toby Hurst, Lead Consultant at Articulate Marketing.
Articulate Marketing hasn’t shaken hands with a prospect to close a new deal in a long time. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve closed plenty of deals across the years, but they were all closed over conference calls.
As a remote digital marketing agency, our sales process can’t be about wining and dining. We must provide tangible value to prospects over video chats and email – our witty banter only gets us so far.
But just because our remote sales process is, well, remote, it doesn’t mean it’s impersonal. In this article we'll look at our sales process and how we keep the personal touch and continue to close deals as a remote agency.
Sales process flowchart
Here's the sales process in a nutshell. Well, a flowchart. It starts with a research and qualification step, then the first connection, the proposal, finalising the deal and onboarding. It's a tried and true method. But let's get into the weeds a bit. What can you do throughout this process to maintain that personal touch?
We must provide tangible value
‘We close plenty of deals having never met in person,’ explains Toby Hurst, our Sales Lead. ‘I can’t influence your emotions over a web conference, so I have to provide real value’.
In-person sales tactics are moot in the remote sales process. The ‘bullish’ culture that is traditional to sales can’t exist in the virtual world. No. To move prospects further through the sales cycle, it’s important to offer them valuable insights about their business. ‘Even if it doesn’t work out and we part ways,’ Toby explains, ‘no conversation has been wasted because I’ve provided value, and the other party has left with, at the very least, something useful they can take into their next conversation. Because of this, they’ll likely remember me in the future.’
We’re not saying that you need to give away your secret sauce before you sign the paperwork. But, as HubSpot clearly state: ‘Always be helping’.
Remote sales and digital marketing are two sides of the same coin
‘Remote sales is an extension of your inbound marketing efforts,’ Toby says, ‘and a remote salesperson is the voice of the authoritative content that marketing is publishing on the website’.
Your remote sales team needs to understand your marketing funnel almost as in-depth as your marketing team does. If a prospect follows the channels and becomes a sales qualified lead, but a salesperson can’t continue to deliver the same expertise, the prospect will likely disappear. Opportunity lost.
Consultations, technical audits and workshops are all ways to offer more value to prospects in the sales cycle. They’re often quick to perform, easy to contextualise, and they help keep a prospect engaged.
Invariably, more phone time means more time for rapport, more time to showcase value, and a higher probability of closing a deal.
Do your research, and remain approachable
‘They either will or won’t connect with you, it’s as simple as that,’ says Toby. ‘Because of this, prospects will consider the online personality of the salesperson. Not only that, but you must focus hard on the specific needs of the prospect.’
Even your LinkedIn photo will impact a prospect’s decision to connect with you on a call. Be sure to remain approachable and helpful. You must be empathetic and try to understand the specific predicament a prospect might be facing before you can offer them tangible advice.
Fortunately, if your marketing funnel is reliable, you’ll have a plethora of personalised information about a prospect. You can view what blogs they read, how they entered your site, who they may have already spoken to, and whether or not they’re a returning visitor. With this information, you can begin to tailor your sales process to each individual. Just remember:
‘You have to listen and hear what's being said and align your products and services to their needs. The other way around just doesn’t work.’
That might include leaving room for prospects to grow into other services later on. It might also mean providing more holistic recommendations to problems, rather than responding to a prospect’s self-diagnosis.
‘Everything you can get from your CRM about a prospect, you should use,’ explains Toby. ‘What forms did they fill in? What blogs did they read? What has their journey been on your site since they became a contact?’ This research will help you understand a prospect’s situation even before you've spoken to them.
Finally, be sure to give a damn
Despite the two computers that sit between you and your prospect, you’re just a person, sat (virtually) in front of another person, asking them to love you.
Investigate their business, understand their needs, offer them some help for free, and be a human. ‘The key for me is to actually give a damn about their business, rather than focus on my own sales numbers.’
While numbers are important, the numbers pot will never boil if you stare at it all day long. In the virtual sales process, then, remember your humanity. As Toby says:
'We’re all just trying to do good, honest work at the end of the day.'
This article was originally published in 2020 and has been updated in 2023.