Virtual sales is now fundamental to survival and growth in a market where remote selling is the “next normal”. Gain new insights on the rise of this phenomenon and the benefits it has delivered.

Virtual sales originated in the 1950s in the form known today as telemarketing. It has dramatically evolved to be a highly sophisticated and digitally enabled virtual sales motion. Over the last decade it has become the dominant sales model in B2B, tech, SaaS and a range of B2C industries, with the hiring of virtual sellers significantly outpacing that of traditional field sellers across the globe.

So what has fueled the rise of virtual sales over the last 10 years?

The exponential growth of virtual sales has been driven by a combination of factors: changes in customer purchasing behaviour and advancements in technology that increased the effectiveness of virtual sales teams.

The digital revolution has changed how buying decisions are made and the way business is transacted. Today’s buyers, in their personal and business lives, have immediate access to information and want sales interactions on their own terms. They are self-sufficient in researching solutions digitally. Decision makers are much more comfortable with, and in fact most of the time prefer, engaging digitally & virtually when making purchasing decisions.

Technology, however, has been the biggest catalyst in the rise of virtual sales, especially with the availability of video communication tools like Webex enabling high quality face to face meetings to be conducted remotely. In addition to video capabilities, advancements in digital selling tools have enabled sellers to connect with more customers, understand where decision makers are in their buying journey and have smarter conversations based on real-time contextual propensity data.

What benefits have virtual sales been delivering?

Embracing a virtual sales model has delivered a number of compelling benefits.

  • Increase sales productivity and efficiency
    With no wasted travel time, virtual sellers can connect with more decision makers and have far more meetings in a day than traditional field sellers, reducing cost to acquire and service customers.
  • Scale and reach without necessarily increasing headcount
    A virtual infrastructure can dramatically extend sales coverage beyond the traditional boundaries of geographic, territory, and functional constraints. Virtual sales allow you to drive up productivity by entering markets that previously seemed cost prohibitive.
  • Speed to ramp and speed to adapt
    With its hub-based team structures virtual sales organizations can ramp up and down, change territories, take on new opportunities and focus on new business priorities more quickly.
  • Better collaboration between departments
    Effective selling today relies on an interdisciplinary approach and virtual sales models help break down traditional silos. In doing so, this expedites access to information, support and expertise boosting sales performance.
  • Increase visibility and business intelligence
    Virtual sales motions lend themselves to more consistent processes. This enables greater operational cadence and rigour, with real time inspection, coaching, support, business diagnostics and replication of best practices.
  • Act as a talent engine
    Virtual sales is not only a revenue engine but also seen by many as a talent engine, attracting early in career digital natives and developing them through structured training, coaching and mentorships.

Put simply, virtual sales dramatically improves the coverage, control, productivity and cost effectiveness of your sales GTM while offering buyers the speed of response and experience they now demand.

What will the new normal look like in a post Covid-19 world?

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the fast-forward button on virtual sales adoption forcing businesses across the world to double down on digital sales tools and universally conduct sales remotely. This sudden shift of the balance between field and virtual sales is unlikely to return to where it was before. Virtual sales is now fundamental to survival and growth in a market where remote selling is the “next normal” as the pandemic has forced consumers, customers, employees and sellers to stay at home.

Setting up a virtual sales model, however, requires far more than simply having field sellers work remotely. A solid virtual sales model needs to be properly designed, equipped and enabled. In my blog series, I will discuss what it takes to reap the benefits of virtual sales, how to make the model successful and provide viewpoints on how virtual sales may evolve in the future.

You can browse my previous post relating to the evolution of selling, or check out our most recent posts on Cisco Viewpoints.

Connect with me and my team on LinkedIn below:

Neil Archer
Angela Coronica
Paul Wittich
Samuel Poh