Figures show that 7 in 10 sales professionals believe that hybrid working is hitting their bottom line
The increase in flexible and hybrid working since the pandemic has widely been considered a bonus by many, with Showpad research showing that most would now not even consider a job that did not offer this. But this perk could be less of a ‘bonus’ for those who work in sales and rely on commission – with seven in ten (68%) professional salespeople believing that the increase in hybrid working and virtual meetings is costing them sales. In fact, the average seller in the UK believes that it is costing them a quarter (24%) of their personal sales.
Whilst 18% say that their sales have held steady over the transition to hybrid working, just 7% say they have increased, showing the move is benefiting few in sales-based roles.
The research, from Showpad, the global leader in sales enablement technology, found that 86% of sellers believe that virtual meetings make it harder to engage with buyers (with 39% saying it is significantly harder). Being unable to read a buyer’s body language was the key reason (highlighted by 59%) – with sellers saying virtual meetings make it harder to gauge if a pitch is landing and how well an interaction is going.
Nearly half (45%) simply feel it is harder to make a connection over screen, whilst over a third (34%) highlight that virtual meetings make it harder to engage in client hospitality and flatter prospects or clients by taking them out for meals, drinks or nice experiences before, during or after the meeting.
A third (33%) feel that simply not being able to shake hands counts against them, whilst a similar amount (32%) highlight that it is harder to use your own body language effectively to help sell virtually.
The research highlights other difficulties for businesses caused by hybrid working. More than three quarters (76%) believe that not always being in the office is affecting interaction between their department and other departments in the business.
There are several knock-on implications of this, with 55% saying that having mixed messaging reaching clients or prospects is a key issue. However, other problems include ‘not having easy access to the latest marketing materials’ (32%), ‘not learning from colleagues in different areas of the business’ (24%), and ‘not getting the opportunity to understand how other departments function’ (23%).
Whilst hybrid working is a drawback for many, increases in technology are something sellers believe is helping them close deals. Although a lack of real-world meetings is an issue for many, being able to screen-share with clients on calls is something 31% say helps salespeople to close deals – and newer technologies are now playing a key role too. Nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents say that the Metaverse is a tool that can help salespeople seal deals, the same number selected AI, and 15% highlight the benefits of augmented reality for salespeople.
Hendrik Isebaert, CEO, Showpad said: “In many industries, face-to-face time with clients or prospects is still key to driving forward business and closing sales. However, even in the most traditional of businesses, technology plays a massive role in keeping buyers engaged and informed throughout the sales cycle. Every organization’s go-to-market strategy – and therefore the ways in which customers buy from them – is unique, and so organizations need to adopt sales enablement strategies that fit their unique business needs. This will ensure that sellers can act as trusted advisers throughout the sales process, meeting their buyers wherever they are and filling in information gaps accordingly. Flexibility is key for sellers to talk to customers in a differentiated way, adding value in every interaction.”
Body language expert, Adrianne Carter, said: “As we navigate a hybrid working environment, it’s more crucial than ever to be mindful of our own and others’ body language. While in-person interactions allow us to read body language more intuitively, it’s still possible to read and send intentional cues virtually. It may take a bit more effort, but the benefits of paying attention to body language in virtual meetings are well worth it.
For example, when meeting in person, there’s often a few minutes of casual conversation that helps to build rapport and establish a connection before diving into the purpose of the meeting. However, virtual meetings tend to jump straight into the business at hand. To build that same sense of connection and rapport virtually, consider starting your meetings with some light, informal conversation – perhaps discussing something interesting in your background or the other person’s background. This will help to establish a sense of camaraderie before getting down to business.”
Adrianne Carter’s top expert body language tips to improve engagement and connection on virtual calls:
- Raise your camera so your chin is level, to make a confident impression. A high chin can appear arrogant and overconfident, and a low chin indicates insecurity and submissiveness.
- Start meetings with some friendly chat, such as something interesting in either of your backgrounds. Keep your body language open and approachable, with your shoulders relaxed, and your posture upright and attentive.
- Smiling is a powerful social tool that can be used to connect people. It’s important to genuinely smile in meetings, using your whole face, not just your mouth – your eyes should crinkle at the corners and cheeks should raise. A forced smile doesn’t create the same impression or likeability factor that is needed to build strong business relationships.
- Maintain appropriate levels of eye contact by looking directly at the camera, rather than the person on-screen. Since you can’t shake hands in the virtual world, greet them with a genuine smile while maintaining eye contact – key to building trust and creating a positive impression.
- Hand gestures are powerful to convey confidence and credibility. Make your hands visible and use gestures to emphasise key points or indicate agreement, to establish trust, engagement, and make your message more persuasive.
More information and outtakes from the State of Selling Report can be found here: https://www.showpad.com/digital-selling-are-you-in-or-out/