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Debunking a Few Myths About Virtual Selling

By Ed Emde

COVID-19 and current market trends are driving our customers to change their sales approach. Salespeople once accustomed to selling in person are now confronted with selling via email, telephone, digital platforms, and social media. Salespeople are struggling to access and engage customers in this new environment.

As a result, there has been an enormous amount of attention brought to anything that has the word virtual associated with it: virtual meetings, virtual learning, virtual teams, and, of course, virtual selling. The reasons are obvious, perfectly understandable, and largely appropriate.

As with anything getting this much attention, there is a lot of good that comes from it. Unfortunately, along with the good has come some misinterpretation of the challenges for sales and confusion about how to respond to those challenges.

For example, we have seen a number of providers hastily prepare and market programs (or perhaps the other way around—market and then prepare programs) as the answer. We are also getting inquiries asking for help with virtual selling or, in many cases, asking for our “Virtual Selling” program. The implied assumption behind this request seems to be that the solution to the challenges sales organizations are experiencing is a training program focused on virtual selling skills.

Although some specific virtual skills training is almost certainly an important component of meeting the current challenges, a more thoughtful, systemic approach to sales effectiveness is required to move the needle on sales performance.

Ed Emde

Ed Emde, President of Wilson Learning Corporation, is responsible for business strategy and operations in the Americas.

Ed has more than 25 years of experience working directly with senior level executives in linking human resources development, organizational development, training, and education initiatives to strategic imperatives and business outcomes. He has held executive and leadership positions, including serving as President and CEO, with a number of leading training and organizational development companies. He has managed several successful turnarounds, as well as the acquisition, merger, and integration of several businesses. Ed is published in numerous print and online business publications, including CLO magazine and Training magazine.