Before the coronavirus pandemic abruptly flipped the switch for the world, technology has already been a staple of our daily lives. From shopping and paying bills to education, one can just go online and do whatever they needed with just a click, bringing great convenience to both business owners and customers.
The post-pandemic business world is going to be different, with working from home becoming the new norm and the financial landscape increasingly attune to the digital world. As the recent world events continue to unfold, they have also accelerated a trend that the world has been curating over the last two decades — the penetration of technology in our daily lives.
Such a preference shift in the usage of technology, with the help of the coronavirus pandemic, has been exponentially increased the penetration of digital gadgets in both the B2C and B2B world. It has also unknowingly altered the traditional customer service strategies in the financial sectors, in this case, the emergence of virtual selling.
What is Virtual Selling?
Virtual selling refers to doing business remotely without physical presence and minimal direct contact with customers. As the name suggests, virtual selling is usually done through online platforms.
Sean Campbell, CEO of a B2B market research firm, Cascade Insights defines it as a marketing strategy that can achieve purchase orders without having to travel to meet the clients face to face. For instances, selling products through phone calls, text, webinars, conducting virtual proposal presentation and contracting process with clients as well as building marketing campaigns on social media platforms and email marketing.
However, virtual selling is not a new concept in the financial industry. It is, in fact, a common marketing strategy that has been also used by a wide range of industries for their special promotional activities along with the sales cycles or to promote mature products. Virtual selling also allows them to reach out to customers that are hard to reach via traditional communication methods, It also proves to be cost-effective by minimising the selling costs and reducing unnecessary manpower.
Furthermore, virtual selling allows a multi-channel marketing engagement that accelerates the sales process, one that usually takes months to take off. It also allows organisations to safeguard short term revenues and profit. More importantly, virtual selling helps to grow companies beyond flattening the curve and achieve long-term profitable growth.
As virtual selling has the potential to replace traditional sales method post-crisis, it poses a huge challenge to the sales professionals, who will now have to adapt to the digital-centric selling strategies and deliver a unique buying experience that will make them stand out from the competition.
The Emergence of Virtual Selling
Contrary to the collective impression of digital marketing is a new trend in the financial sector, social selling and digital sales tools have been steadily contributing to successful sales prospecting over the past decades and experts believe that it will continue to dominate the financial world as the world enters the digital age.
Undeniably, the emergence of various social media platforms and virtual business meeting platforms has made virtual selling a possibility. From the social media royalties, like Facebook, LinkedIn and TikTok to the newly emerging business meeting services, like Zoom and Slack, these digital platforms not only serve as a platform where businessmen and consumers can interact directly without any distance onstraint, they have also enabled businessmen to showcase their brands and products, which helped generate leads and boost sales. As these social platforms have gradually become a big part of both our social and working lives, this has created a favourable condition for the virtual selling marketing strategy to emerge and bloom even further in the financial industry.
Additionally, the shift in consumers’ behaviour is also another reason why virtual selling is here to stay even in the post-pandemic world. Even as the threat of coronavirus pandemic continues to loom over our daily lives, many have since conformed to the new norm where working remotely and digital-centric lifestyle are becoming more acceptable and preferred.
According to a survey on virtual marketing model by McKinsey & Company, 65% of the B2B decision-makers believed the new digital-centric approach is as effective or more than traditional face-to-face and tradeshow outreach. This has thus reflected consumers’ preference to receive news and information is shifting towards digital approach, enabling virtual selling strategies to take center stage in the financial marketing world.
Virtual selling in the business world is not likely to be a temporary fix propelled by the outbreak of coronavirus. Rather, it is an emerging trend that is bound to take off further due to the favourable environment created by entrepreneurs, inventors, business owners and consumers.
Adapting to a Virtual Future
Despite promoting business online seems to remove many uncontrollable variations when it comes to meeting up with customers, virtual selling while social distancing still proves to be difficult, especially for the B2B focus companies where the technology infrastructure is not as mature as the B2C focus companies. Certain aspects of the sales process, such as solution configuration and visual experiences will be amplified during virtual selling. Thus, to seamlessly adapt virtual selling as a marketing strategy, these B2B focus companies will have to engage a different set of skills and approaches to satisfy customer acquisition in the visual setting.
One of the most effective ways for companies to adopt virtual selling is to optimise their technology ecosystem to support their virtual selling strategy. From social media accounts to basic conferencing tools, companies will need to evaluate and enhance their existing digital platforms, such as their interactive presentation software, e-commerce platforms, and visual assist tools for remote support. Moreover, companies will also need to explore different virtual sales tools to deliver a distinct virtual experience for the customers and build a stronger long-term relationship with them.
Besides that, content management is also critical for virtual selling to be effective. It is proven that creative virtual approaches, content formats, and agile production models can improve the marketing process by creating a high level of personalisation and increase engagement, in turns generating better leads. Thus, constant refining and updating of digital contents is an aspect that companies will need to focus on to create a more memorable impact on the customers.
Lastly, companies need to reimagine their marketing strategy for the long run. Instead of simply virtualising the existing sales strategy, companies should constantly evaluate and balance their customer-engagement models by listening to the needs of the customers and adapting accordingly. Amid the global crisis, there will be changes in consumers’ needs as well as their preferences for engagement. Thus, by understanding their customers’ needs, companies will be able to better create a personalise virtual selling efforts and build a more strategic relationship with the customers.
The Bottom Line
Undeniably, virtual selling brought the marketing war into the digital world, while challenging the traditional marketing strategies and platforms. To fully benefit from this emerging trend, companies should reimagine their future customer engagement strategy and optimize the right mix of virtual and in-person channels to accelerate recovery from this pandemic and thrive in the new world.
Desfran’s expertise in marketing and branding and the promoting of brands and products will provide your business with an effective solution in the hybrid model of digital and traditional marketing especially in this transition times. Spearheaded by one of the world’s leading management teams, our team of seasoned experts stationed in more than five cities across the globe, dedicated to providing customised business solutions and marketing strategies that help to establish a brand presence in the new market.
As a partner who grows with your business, Desfran provides a suite of business solutions which includes new market entry consultancy services, new market requirements like business incorporation and registration, bank account opening, marketing and branding services and regulatory compliance, all of which can all be fulfilled through Desfran’s bespoke solutions. We continuously stay on top of trends and movements in the financial industry to help your business growth by identifying, maximising your business potential while providing comprehensive customised solutions.
Contact Desfran today.
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Here’s A Look Into The Near Future, Post Pandemic World, Forbes.com
Virtual sales could be here to stay … is MedTech ready?, Deloitte.com