When most people think about virtual selling, they jump to people who make a living selling for themselves online, like Etsy artists, or those who collect niche items like secondhand designer bags or custom sneakers and re-sell them for a profit. And while independent sellers like those are definitely part of the virtual selling landscape, there are many other ways to sell virtually online.
For example, independently owned businesses that sell goods and services, consultant-led products like Scentsy or Arbonne, or corporate-led selling, whether via sales reps or retail associates, for significant brands through channels like live video shopping—these are all examples of virtual selling.
There are also two main types of virtual selling: B2C (business-to-consumer) and B2B (business-to-business). Business-to-consumer often involves marketing to consumers en masse; for example, through a live stream shopping event, or a private remote selling party led by a ‘host’. However, many consumer brands are starting to realize the benefits of bringing live selling down to an individual level, by offering one-to-one video co-shopping.
In contrast, B2B remote selling typically involves a more traditional sales process of connecting a sales professional with buyers or a potential prospect, often via appointment. However, B2B brands are also now realizing the value of offering on demand service to connect with potential buyers they may not otherwise have the chance to meet - creating a more B2C-like experience.
What Types of Virtual Selling Tools Should I Use?
Part of why selling online has become widely popular is because it’s so readily available, can be cheap to set up and execute, and, when done properly, is very effective. From using a smartphone to sell on Instagram Live, to investing in live co-shopping platforms, there’s a virtual selling tool out there for everyone and anyone. Let’s break down the two major video-based virtual selling styles and what they are best used for.
Live Video Co-Shopping
Video co-shopping, or live video shopping, allows customers to connect with a real human in a video experience, with the intent of browsing or buying products from a particular brand. Live video co-shopping can be done in a one-to-one, one-to-few, or one-to-many format. An example of one-to-one live video co-shopping is GhostRetail. This kind of solution is best for brands and businesses that are looking to offer 1:1 live streaming support to their customers. It also is great for brands looking to bring an in-store experience to their ecommerce channel and enhance CX. Retailers of any size with an existing, rich ecommerce experience can benefit from this kind of solution. Read our guide to the best live shopping apps here.
Live Streaming Software
Live streaming software is a program or app that allows users to broadcast live video content in a digital format that can be consumed by viewers who are also using the program or app. Examples of remote selling live stream software include Facebook Live, Instagram Live, YouTube Live and TikTok Live. These kinds of one-to-many platforms are ideal for virtual sellers and sales leaders who want to leverage their already-established online following and create shoppable and engaging videos to encourage customers to either make a purchase within a livestream (where possible) or visit a website to buy an item. Another way to think of it is like a product launch where a brand wants to reach thousands of online customers at once. Check out our guide to the best live streaming software here.
Many different virtual selling tools can end up being effective. It’s worth noting that there are always going to be drawbacks to exclusively leveraging a social media one-to-many social selling service for virtual sales because you will always be at the mercy of that social media provider - for example, they can change their rules or fees at any time.
Are video conferencing tools suitable for virtual selling?
One common question that comes up with virtual sales is whether you need a platform specifically designed for it, or whether you're fine to just book a Zoom video conferencing call. The truth is - it depends.
During the pandemic, many sales leaders had to quickly equip their sales team to get comfortable with remote sales. Instead of stopping into a customer's place of work, or having customers visit their store or showroom, all of a sudden it came down to using a video call to connect.
For a traditional sales process involving a virtual sales team and buyers, a video conferencing tool might be all they need to educate a customer and fulfill a purchase order. But for brands serious about closing transactions and moving product during a live selling call, it might be time to move to a platform specifically designed to complement an ecommerce-style experience.
Live or Prerecorded Virtual Selling?
The name ‘virtual selling’ might automatically channel the idea that it’s live. But that’s not necessarily the case. Many ‘live’ programs shown online are actually prerecorded and then just broadcast ‘live’. Why? Well for one thing, it helps brands avoid any hiccups that might arise and turn shoppers off. Instead of dealing with issues as they come up, like a faulty internet connection or misbehaving equipment, a prerecorded session lets brands just hit play.
But, live virtual selling has its benefits too. Live sellers can interact with the audience in real time, including reacting to customer comments and feedback, or answering questions. They can also promote discount codes or giveaways and call out attendees by name.
Live selling also lets brands create a more intimate relationship with viewers, particularly for a one-to-few scenario (like a private shopping party). And for one-to-one live selling, we’d argue it’s actually just…critical to be live, or else your shopper may as well be talking to a bot.
One exception to this rule: A live selling associate or sales rep could create something prerecorded, and publish it later, with zero intent to ever broadcast it to a specific audience at an event time. In other words, they could create a ‘shoppable video’ that customers can view on demand.
To choose the most appropriate virtual selling tools or methods, it’s best to first learn the basic skills.
Do I Need Virtual Selling Training?
Let’s be honest—there are many, many ways to learn some stellar virtual selling skills online. From courses to case studies to playbooks, the best practices for virtual selling have been around for years.
Given the ever-evolving ways there are to sell online, these virtual sales training tips and tricks have been studied, revised, updated, documented in case studies, and perfected year after year by the thousands, if not millions of sales professional experts and virtual sales leaders that conduct remote selling globally. We’ve rounded up the best practices for virtual selling along with a list of easy-to-do, straightforward tips that can improve anyone’s virtual selling skills without blowing up their budget.
First up, the building blocks for becoming an effective virtual seller. These best practices are not rocket science, but they do take time and effort to achieve. Before launching an online sales strategy, it’s important to get a handle on these most important virtual selling best practices.
Learn the technology. (Specifically, video.)
Those looking to crush their sales team goals with virtual selling need to understand the technology in and out. There’s no getting around this one. (Sorry, non-techies.) Fortunately, most of the top virtual selling tools don’t require users to be super tech savvy. Many are app-based or provide basic training and tutorials.
The big one here is getting comfortable using video. According to HubSpot, 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool. And it’s not going anywhere any time soon–in fact, it’s going to continue to grow. So, virtual sellers need to get to know their weapon of choice well before they start the virtual selling journey.
In addition to video, virtual sellers need to get comfortable with complementary selling channels. E-mail marketing and social media are the biggies, as those can help drive customers to the video content or convince them to return to a website to make a purchase. Not sure where to start? Find some free online training, or invest in one-on-one training with a social media consultant. It’s definitely worth it.
Hone your communication skills.
Virtual selling is not a one-way street. A huge component of effectively selling products online is establishing open communication with customers within a video call. On top of that, for video selling, basic communication skills like conveying a message clearly and speaking in easy-to-understand terms (avoiding jargon) are super important. Being able to follow up with phone calls, emails or video chats is a must.
At the end of the day, customers are still taking a chance to buy products online and not in person. And while each generation is seemingly more and more comfortable doing so, there is still always a risk involved in making an online purchase. Customers want to feel they trust individuals, brands and virtual sales reps before they make a purchase. Not only do they want to know they’re getting what they paid for, but they also want to know that if something goes wrong, there’s a human at the other end who will work to make it right.
Putting time and effort into building customer trust and loyalty must be part of a virtual selling strategy. Some tactics to help achieve this are: having a conversational tone, personalizing sales interactions and offers, prioritizing returns, exchanges and customer recovery, and building meaningful relationships with customers.
Put in the work.
Virtual selling is a job. It’s important for virtual sellers to stay motivated, focused, and put in the time it takes to do it right. This includes researching, practicing, rehearsing, writing, studying best practices (like these) and looking at upcoming trends or new opportunities. It also means knowing when to ask for help, take a break, or improve organizational skills and time management.
10 Practical Tips to Improve Your Virtual Selling Skills
Test your setup. Set checks should be part of your go-live checklist before you start your virtual selling event. This includes looking at everything that will be on camera, testing angles, double-checking your devices and apps, and doing a dry run, as well.
Get good lighting. Make sure your lighting equipment is working and that your choice of light is the best one to showcase the products. Lighting temperature and strength should be personalized and strategic. Hot tip: use a ring light on yourself for the most complimentary lighting. Look at everything on camera to make sure you’re happy with the lighting.
Check your wireless speed. This is a big one because a poor internet connection will definitely cost you customers. Most people won’t have the patience to sit through slow-to-load video or mismatched, lagged audio and will quickly drop off the virtual selling event. Checking your wireless speed is easy to do, but give yourself time to troubleshoot if there are problems.
Show customers or buyers how it works. Shoppers want to feel comfortable making a purchase, and most don’t really want to put up their hands and ask a question. Near the start of the virtual selling event or call, walk everyone through how it works and how they can make a purchase. Setting expectations is a great way to kick off any live broadcast or video.
Perfect your small talk. Virtual selling, especially live selling and social selling, can be a little awkward if someone isn’t filling in the gaps in conversation. To keep everyone happy and comfortable, get used to making pleasant small talk and even cracking the occasional joke to break the ice.
Be camera-ready. Make sure there are no unwanted objects in the scene and that you’re ready to be on camera! Do a mirror check to make sure clothes are free of stains, your hair is good to go, and you’re not chewing gum or food. If you’re supposed to be wearing branded merchandise, make sure it looks great, and if not, check that your wardrobe is a good choice on camera.
Have your products ready. Be sure that all the required products for your virtual selling event are present and easily accessible.
Consider some scripting. Most people aren’t jumping on a virtual selling event without planning what they want to say. To ensure that you don’t forget any important points or information, write out a script that you can loosely follow during the event or broadcast.
Interact with followers. If you are hosting a live virtual selling event, be sure to monitor the comments or find a way to take live questions. Interacting with your customers is a great way to get to know them, personalize your offerings, earn customer loyalty and boost sales.
Complement video with other channels. Promote your live streams and video through social media channels, e-blasts, and any other marketing tools you have that make sense. Not all customers are going to be available during your live virtual selling events, so recording the video and making it into shoppable content that people can watch later is a great way to increase sales. Letting followers know on social media only makes sense.
Getting Started with Virtual Selling
Brands or individuals looking to incorporate video virtual selling into their digital strategies need first to decide who the platform will serve, and how they will use it. Are you a wellness brand doing a live product demo? Are you a fashion influencer looking to live stream to your followers? Or maybe you’re a retailer looking to guide shoppers to make a purchase? Be sure that the platform is helping you reach your overall marketing or customer service goals.
It’s also important to highlight that when it comes to video-based virtual selling, there are effective options outside of the one-to-many social media event experience (like Instagram Live Shopping). One-to-one live video shopping is the most direct form of live chat to provide customers support, on demand. This kind of live video co-shopping is a curated personal shopper experience, where customers still get the convenience of researching and browsing products online on their own schedule, but get the trusted guidance they’ve come to expect from shopping in-store.
Our Pick for the Top Video Virtual Selling Tool 2023
With a live video co-shopping experience, live shopping associates can range from actual retail employees to personal shoppers to brand ambassadors or influencers. They interact in a one-to-one live setting, on demand when the customer needs or wants. So whether they’re looking for help, need some guidance, or are about to make a purchase, someone is there for them. For these reasons, 1:1 live video co-shopping is our top pick for the best virtual selling tool in 2023.
Live video shopping with GhostRetail
Video co-shopping with GhostRetail can connect customers with real, live, in-store salespeople who know the products and can help shoppers make meaningful purchases. It helps shoppers through conversion stumbling blocks, increasing sales and boosting brand loyalty. GhostRetail offers an unparalleled owned live video co-shopping experience, one truly designed to simulate what it’s like to be in a store with an actual associate.
Ready to start creating an exceptional live shopping experience your customers will return to again and again? Book a demo with GhostRetail today and see how live video co-shopping works.