As consumers are becoming more tech-savvy, sales professionals are increasingly using the digital sales environment to close business. But how do you make sure you leave your mark, in a remote call? A call or an online meeting is not the same as face-to-face, as certain non-verbal cues might be lost. Let’s review what the data is so far about how you can make your remote calls more successful.
Currently, the trend in companies large and small is to increase their inside sales motion. Studies show that the lines between inside and outside sales are blurring. Field sales reps now spend more than 45 percent of their time selling remotely.
It’s only natural for them to do so.
As consumers are experiencing positive user experience interacting with online businesses, they come to expect the same in any setting, including business technology acquisitions.
Delivering Great Conversations in Remote Meetings
However, this begs the question: how do you deliver a great conversation in a remote meeting? Do you simply modify existing engagement techniques to a phone or web conference environment? Or do these environments demand a major change in terms of how you deliver the message?
Corporate Visions identifies a few schools of thought on the methods you should use for remote calling:
- Verbal-only – Try to “reduce friction” by keeping the conversation verbal only and not directing prospects and customers to web links, apps, or other visual storytelling aids for fear of disrupting or reducing their willingness to participate.
- Web Link with PowerPoint – Ask prospects and customers to go to a web link to show them some form of PowerPoint presentation deck or screen share demonstration to help tell your story.
- Dynamic visual storytelling – Use interactive visual storytelling over the phone, either “hand drawing” simple concrete images using a whiteboard app or dynamic visual builds in your presentation.
- Active customer participation – Asking prospects and customers to hand-draw certain concepts that help illustrate your core message and value proposition to move them from passive observer to active participant.
The Picture Superiority Effect
We know empirically a picture is worth a thousand words. There is solid research around the concept of “picture superiority.” Pictures are way more effective than text or words alone at getting people to remember what you’re telling them. In fact, some studies report they are six or seven times better than words.
The Whiteboard vs PowerPoint Experiment
However, there’s evidence that you should not automatically use a PowerPoint presentation in a remote meeting. This is the result of an experiment conducted by Corporate Visions experiment in collaboration with Dr Zakary Tormala, an expert in messaging and persuasion (and social psychologist at the Stanford Graduate School of Business).
They developed a simulation that involved 351 participants. The test subjects were randomly assigned to one of three different presentation conditions. These were all covering the same concept through different modes of visual storytelling. Participants saw a whiteboard session, a PowerPoint presentation, and a zen presentation covering just one slide with a photograph and some facts.
What the study revealed is that the whiteboard presentation format outperformed the two PowerPoint presentations across a wide range of metrics.
Participants who attended the whiteboard session did better to recall the story. They had higher engagement levels and they thought the presentation was higher quality. Moreover, they had better perceived credibility and thought it was more persuasive.
Reducing Friction in the Remote Sales Call
Now, there is something to be said about the online consumer — they are fickle and demanding, and if anything like me, they lose patience after about 15 seconds. This is why some are interested in reducing friction on sales calls– meaning, asking the prospect to open a web link or draw a visual could reduce or interfere with your audience’s willingness to participate.
There is little research to back up the theory.
How To Make Your Remote Calls Rock
Luckily, Corporate Visions has a study underway to determine whether inside sellers can and should go beyond the phone call and static PowerPoint to more compelling forms of prospect and customer engagement. They have teamed up with Dr Nick Lee at Warwick Business School in Coventry, UK, to find out:
- Should sellers employ visuals or keep it verbal?
- What kind of engagement strategy drives the most persuasive intent?
- Should there be less drawing or more drawing?
- If more, who should do the bulk of it – the seller or the prospect?
- What is the role of PowerPoint?
- What kind of visual storytelling strategy needs to be incorporated into PowerPoint to make them most impactful?
You can get a sneak peek from the research in the Corporate Visions webinar here.