It wasn’t that long ago that almost 100% sales were face-to-face or over the phone. For most salespeople, the meat of the sales process was in face-to-face, live discussions – although some of the meetings were screen sharing and mostly email between communications.
In 2020, the restrictions on travel and face-to-face meetings resulted in the switch to pure virtual sales.
But the change hasn’t changed the basics of needs assessment. In some ways, needs assessment has become more difficult, but the move to virtual selling actually gives organized sellers a greater advantage.
The advantage for salespeople in a virtual world
In our recent study of virtual sales, 71% of buyers said that a seller’s ability to conduct thorough discovery of concerns, wants, and needs in their virtual interactions has a high impact on purchasing decisions. But only 26% believe salespeople do this effectively. This is a great opportunity for nearly three-quarters of the salespeople. Switching to virtual can differentiate those who are prepared, knowledgeable, and thorough.
Virtual selling doesn’t just mean adding videos to meetings, as virtual selling dramatically changes the dynamics of how buyers interact and engage with sellers.
A buyer recently said, “One of the things I hate to see is when I meet with a seller after we had their first qualifying meeting that I had to put up with and they ask me a number of questions I have could have responded more accurately, thoroughly, and quickly via email or a standard survey. “
If you know you need answers to background questions and you need to identify preferences, wants, and needs, it is best to email ahead of time. Here’s what happens when you do this:
- You will get more answers than you could collect in one call. When you actually have the call, the live meeting time can be more fruitful.
- The sales cycle can be shortened as you need fewer follow-up meetings. You received your responses before meetings.
- Buyers respond via survey or email. If they prefer, they sometimes have discussions via email, which makes the process even faster.
- Buyers say, “I don’t have time to answer these questions right now, but thank you for submitting them. Let’s cover them in the meeting.” But they often still read the questions and think about what makes the actual meeting more productive.
In other words, you can get the sales process moving faster, get more and better information, and impress buyers.
To the extent that you can customize your questions for that particular buyer, you will build trust and help other buyers see that you stand out from the rest. Prepare the buyer and only send questions when rapport and trust have been established.
Example of a needs assessment email
Think of the following example as an email you might send once you know your buyer and initial discovery has taken place.
You can also send a shorter email and link the buyer to a survey with questions.
By using email to aid your needs assessment process, you can have more productive sales meetings, close sales faster, and impress buyers.
Use the virtual world to your advantage and try this approach for an upcoming sales discussion.