Growing? Let Virtual Software Experiences Help You Scale Your Sales Pipeline
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When you sell a powerful, impressive, well-designed software product with broad applications, you can target thousands – if not tens of thousands – potential customers around the globe. And for enterprise sales, in particular, this is a long, multi-step sales cycle with plenty of stakeholders to contact, pitch to, and ultimately impress. It goes without saying that only a small percentage of all those you do manage to engage will ultimately become profitable, long-term customers.
The problem? Scaling that pipeline.
Yes, the B2C sector (and some rare examples in B2B as well) have managed to automate much of the process. They design massive online advertising campaigns that offer free trials easily converted to paid versions. But for most B2B – especially for scenarios with large, complex installations that require customization or extensive training for users at various levels – you need a manual, personal pitch that requires human engagement at each step.
And therein lies the problem. Even those companies who take the strategic step of investing in a large sales team do hit a threshold to how many people they can employ to get more done. Why can’t you simply throw more and more people at the problem?
Meeting with a prospect has traditionally taken a few forms, each problematic in a different way:
- A physical face-to-face, involving (at a minimum) a car ride each way, or, at the other extreme, flights, hotels, and all related expenses in time and budget. These need to be scheduled by both parties, often part of a series of meetings to be coordinated and juggled – easily derailed when the client has a last-minute scheduling conflict.
- A “packaged” screen-share demo. Pre-scripted and repeated often, the prospect passively watches a walk-through of features and functions running on the software installed on the presenter’s computer. It’s easy to repeat a pitch time after time, but a lecture rarely engages, and what applies to one prospect may not be a good fit for another.
- A phone call. Obviously the simplest and quickest, this lacks any visual presentation to demonstrate the product.
Each of these has its drawbacks: face-to-face takes too long to scale, screen-sharing is limited as a one-way experience, and a phone call cannot engage when the prospect sees neither a person nor a product.
An online, remote sales call solves the problem
A virtual software experience, by contrast, eliminates all these challenges and is the ideal strategy for scaling up sales with a rich, engaging, compelling sales pitch. Some remote, online platforms are specifically designed to grow as your company does; you can make more sales calls – more effective ones – with the same team. A copy of your software, bullet-proof, up-to-date, and centrally maintained for consistency across the team, is hosted in the cloud. It’s instantly accessible to anyone worldwide, with just a browser.
The benefits of going virtual
- Do away with travel time: Often, the time it takes to get to and from a meeting is longer than the meeting itself. This investment in time, gas, parking, airline tickets, and other expenses has always been considered a “necessary evil” and naturally eats away at the time dedicated to actually sell. Scaling up your sales pitches means adding more of this corresponding wasted time. Virtual software training means that everyone stays at their desks (saving even more time when working from home). Freeing up that travel time lets you multiply the number of additional pitches you can complete.
- Fewer moving parts for the “support team”: It’s not just the team of sales reps who need to scale when the goal is increasing your activities – it’s the people behind them:
- Assistants making travel arrangements before and during a trip, handling all incoming communications when a sales rep is on the road and distracted. Tasks often include “damage control” when one prospect needs to cancel or reschedule (or is simply late), creating a domino effect for the rest of the trip. Just processing expense receipts from a business trip is a task on its own.
- Sales engineers tasked with “tech support” roles when a rep needs troubleshooting to smooth out bumps preventing a demo from going forward – everything from connectivity to hardware mishaps to software failures.
- Active Engagement: A passive or pre-packaged demo only addresses the specific scenarios a salesperson has guessed will be most relevant and compelling. But often – especially as scaling means tossing a wider net – a prospect will ask for unusual or unexpected demonstrations. Not only does the software installation need to be completely up to date and functional, it needs to provide a hands-on experience, allowing the prospect to try it themselves. It gives them the confidence to trust that your product really can work as they hope – specifically for the functionality they know they need to see.
- Turn on a dime: Here’s a common scenario: You’ve been chasing after an important prospect for weeks, and when you finally get a response, she has a narrow time slot to meet that simply doesn’t work for you. Or an incoming request asks for an immediate response as they are in the final stages of their due diligence and need quick answers to compare your product to the competition. In cases like these (which increase as you scale up marketing effort in a growing company), you need to start a demo in minutes – not hours or days. Online platforms featuring virtual software labs allow you to accomplish exactly that. All your audience needs is a browser and an internet connection. You send out an email with a link to click to instantly spin up a shared environment. It’s a fully functional, current version of your software (pre-loaded with data or empty, as needed). You can then demonstrate what you need to one, five, or twenty stakeholders, wherever they are around the world.
In short, scaling up your sales pipeline is never as simple as adding to the workforce. That’s an expensive approach (adding salaries, benefits, office space, paperwork, all the traditional inefficiencies for each employee), more like bloating than streamlining. Using a virtual sales enablement platform with a virtual lab for instant, hands-on demos and training let you drive more sales activity with a much more modest team.
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