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Our Finest Hour: How to Create a Virtual Sales Revenue Engine in a COVID-19 World and Beyond

Lori Harmon

Read about the shift towards virtual sales in the current environment.There is no going back. COVID-19 has upended our routines, stressed the economy, and – let’s face it –forced us to transform the way we sell to and support our customers.

Kristalina Georgieva, head of the International Monetary Fund, warned that the world is facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. A United Nations study said that 81% of the world’s workforce of 3.3 billion people has had their place of work fully or partly closed because of the outbreak. 

This is sobering and alarming news.

Is it too soon to see the light at the end of the tunnel? Maybe not. I believe that virtual sales may be a primary driver of our economic recovery. 

Sellers are realizing how much more productive it can be to sell virtually because they are traveling less and can make more sales calls. Companies are realizing how productive and cost effective it is to have sellers traveling less and working remotely. Most importantly, buyers are seeing the advantage of video meetings instead of in-office visits from vendors. And in today’s circumstances, buyers are more likely to be available to meet. Even when we return to our offices, virtual sales will still be easier and more cost effective for buyers, who won’t have vendors coming by their offices, getting badged in, and taking additional time to network after the sales call.

The Growth of Virtual Sales with COVID-19

I believe that these factors will come together to result in an uptick in virtual sales across the board. The demand for sellers who know how to sell virtually, or to sell using a hybrid virtual/onsite model, is going to increase because more buyers will want to buy virtually.

Due to sheltering in place, sellers who have not previously used virtual selling techniques for the majority of their selling activity are now forced into using them – and they’re quickly seeing the benefits. They are having shorter meetings with customers and prospects and making more sales calls in a single day because they don’t have travel time. Their geos, quotas, and roles haven’t changed, but virtual selling gives them more time to sell, more time to make money, and more time with family.

Over time, virtual sales have already been closing larger and larger deals. COVID-19 selling realities will simply accelerate that process. According to a Spotio sales blog, “130 Eye-Opening Stats About Sales That You Need to Know,” before this crisis, 37% of high-growth companies used inside sales as their primary sales strategy. In this new world, that percentage will only go higher.

How will you take advantage of this selling opportunity? It could be our finest hour.

Lori Harmon

Lori Harmon is a strategic leader who helps customers maximize their return, drives sales innovation and empowers teams in a digital era. She is also the author of the book 42 Rules for Building a High Velocity Inside Sales Team and a frequent speaker on topics related to sales, sales enablement, inside sales and AI in sales. Currently, Lori is the Vice President of Worldwide Virtual Cloud Sales at NetApp. Prior to NetApp, Lori was Vice President of Sales at BlackBerry, Ltd. Prior to BlackBerry Lori held a number of executive sales leadership positions at high tech companies such as Contrast Security, VeriSign, Melbourne IT, Interwoven, Brio Software and Network General. Ms. Harmon holds a BS degree in Information Systems from Appalachian State University.

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