June 3, 2021
Meghan MacRae

Remote Selling Challenge #3: Building Customer Relationships Virtually

3 minutes

Using the ThoughtExchange enterprise discussion management platform, we connected with 300 Fortune 1000 Revenue Leaders from across the continent to find out what obstacles to growth they were facing in 2021.

Sure – many of us are adept at connecting with our “friends” on social media. But not many people wanted virtual relationships to be the primary way of interacting with one another. Well, COVID-19 had other plans, so here we are, navigating a virtual world with everyone, including customers. 

“Influencing in a remote environment: When we meet clients or work with our teams face-to-face, it is easier to “read the room.” In a virtual environment, it is much more difficult.”

“Attracting and retaining business in the digital space: We’re seeing fewer customers (and prospects) in person. Shifting to digital relationship building is key.”

For your sales team, that means many of the ways they’ve traditionally been able to build relationships with your clients or with each other are no longer viable or even desirable. So how do you replace or replicate the “personal touch” online?

Check-in with your Team and your Customers

Digital relationship building is another area where the collective intelligence of your teams – or even the entire organization – can unlock ideas and approaches that may otherwise be overlooked. Each person has their stories of success or failure to bring to the table when it comes to connecting virtually with clients. 

  • Ask your sales team for insights into what’s been working and what hasn’t. This gives you data to inform new sales strategies for building virtual relationships with your customers. For example, you might run an Exchange before a strategy meeting to get a list of both the approaches proving successful in the digital space and where your salespeople are still falling short of making the connection with prospects and even existing clients. Then, during the meeting, you’ll have some wins to share, and you’ll have some areas of focus for your teams to brainstorm about.
  • Run customer check-in exchanges to improve your relationships with your customers. Share the Exchange with your customers via email over an extended period of weeks, or run it live during any virtual events you’re hosting for your customers or prospects. Asking them about their current challenges and how you can support them will give you a quick read on how they’re faring in your virtual relationship and what you can provide to make that connection stronger. 
  • Save the data from important conversations with your customers and use our analytics to get a list of insights so you’re never left guessing where they’re at. Plus, your dashboard has an option to compare exchange data, so you can easily see how well you’re meeting your customers’ needs throughout the year, and spot trends in the market.

Gaining real-time insight into your customers’ concerns will put you ahead of the competition when it comes to prospects. Harvard Business Review notes that especially with remote sales, it can make all the difference to a prospect when you have “new insights about their business or industry, or … can share what customers in similar situations are doing.”

Nothing will replace in-person conversations, but you can provide your customers with an anonymous and unbiased platform to share what they need with you. With the valuable data you get from your Exchanges, you can make sure your sales teams have ideas they can put into practice right away.

Meghan MacRae
Meghan was raised by an English teacher, thus she found a way to incorporate her instinct for grammar and spelling into her career. She honed her corporate writing skills in clothing companies and the music industry, and brings a passion for creativity and playful wordsmithing to her work at ThoughtExchange. When she’s not crafting language that brings people together, she’s reading a thesaurus, playing Uno with her kids, cooking and singing and dancing, and collecting vinyl and art.

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