A shift in sales enablement strategy is required for a more permanent shift toward virtual selling, according to Gartner, Inc. As a result, sales leaders need to optimize their approach to virtual seller enablement in areas such as sales enablement technology, onboarding, training, communications and events.
“Virtual selling is expected to continue being an important capability of sales organizations in a post-COVID-19 era and sales enablement has a critical role to play in enabling sellers to prepare, plan and deliver engaging virtual sales interactions,” said Doug Bushée, senior director analyst in the Gartner Sales practice. “To prepare sellers to sustain digital-first selling behaviors, sales leaders must implement immediate and longer-term actions to develop and maintain a virtual selling strategy.”
Gartner recommends that sales leaders prioritize taking actions in the following areas:
- Sales enablement technology investment: Before purchasing new technology to support virtual selling, carefully assess existing technologies and digital tools to understand and maximize additional functionalities. As business needs and customer expectations change, selectively retire technologies that are redundant or have low utilization.
- Onboard design and deployment: Deploy learning based on predetermined onboarding milestones to build foundational knowledge. This could include product features and benefits, and “hard skills” training that does not require a live instructor, such as systems and tools training. For new hires, curate onboarding resources that will minimize information overload and prioritize digital content that delivers the most critical knowledge needed for a fast start.
- Virtual selling skills development: Design and deliver short training modules, geared to both sellers and managers alike, that can be completed either synchronously (with a live facilitator) or asynchronously (e-learning). These should include application exercises to avoid training burnout and maximize learning engagement.
- Seller communications: Establish a clear communication cadence by carefully planning and communicating the expected cadence of virtual events, training sessions and announcements, and match the messaging to the appropriate channel such as videos, emails, and intranet. With increased communication volume in a virtual environment, establish sales enablement as the gatekeeper that funnels all messages to prioritize content that is consistent and tailored for sellers.
- Sales events: Instead of annual events that bring the team together, host more frequent, shorter events to refine messaging and skills while boosting momentum from previous events. Where possible, reconstruct the in-person kickoff experience by creating online communities that allow sellers to engage in team-building activities, discuss relevant topics, post questions, share best practices and showcase customer examples.
Gartner for Sales Leaders clients can learn more about how to navigate the shift to a more permanent virtual selling environment in the report "Framework to Enable Effective Virtual Selling."
About the Gartner CSO & Sales Leaders Conference
Sales leaders face unprecedented changes in B2B buying behaviors, customer expectations, technology and the talent needed to drive results. At the Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference, taking place virtually on May 17-18, 2021, sales leaders will learn from the latest research and Gartner experts covering sales talent, customer buying behavior, account-based marketing strategies and leveraging digital channels. Follow news and updates from the event on Twitter at #GartnerSales.
About Gartner for Sales Leaders
Gartner for Sales Leaders provides heads of sales and their teams with the insights, advice and tools they need to address mission-critical priorities amid mounting pressures to drive growth through new and existing customers. With extensive qualitative and quantitative research, Gartner for Sales Leaders helps sales teams combat commoditization and price-based purchasing, develop critical manager and seller skills, elevate the value of sales interactions, unlock existing growth potential, and optimize sales force enablement. Follow news and update from the Gartner Sales practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerSales.