According to a recent survey, B2B sales and marketing professionals rely heavily on virtual conversations with prospects and customers, yet few of them have the training or tools necessary to make the most of these interactions.
The survey, conducted by sales and marketing messaging company Corporate Visions, polled more than 600 salespeople and marketers about their business practices in virtual environments – including phone, email and web-based formats. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents said they usually conduct virtual sales calls to group audiences, and 42% of those surveyed said their audiences typically include high-level executives.
Majority Cite Insufficient Training, Inadequate Tools
According to the Corporate Visions study, tools and training also create major challenges for B2B sales and marketing reps working in virtual environments. Nearly 60% of those surveyed said they receive "insufficient, little or no training to deliver effective messages in virtual environments." Just 13% of the respondents said they were equipped with the right tools to deliver effective messages, while more than half said they have "insufficient or no tools" available to work in virtual environments.
At the same time, 27% of the respondents said they deal with noisy or distracting office environments while they conduct their virtual sales calls, and 16% said they aren't entirely comfortable with the technology used for these conversations.
Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of Corporate Visions, said that the findings reflect the challenges sales and marketing professionals face working in virtual environments. "The results of this quarter's survey reveal the critical need to provide better content and capabilities for communicating in virtual environments, especially over the Web," Riesterer stated in a company press release.
A key challenge, according to the survey report, is the inherently limited nature of virtual communication compared to face-to-face meetings. "Over half of human communication is conveyed in non-verbal clues," the report stated. "Pile on managing a technology that has a tendency to crash at the worst possible moment, and then factor in multiple audience members" and other complications, and sales professionals find themselves working at a serious disadvantage.
Some of the tools required to address these shortcomings, according to the report, include the ability to "captivate a diverse audience with message objects, visual-storytelling skills and other techniques designed to engage them," along with "effective, differentiated messaging and a greater focus on speaking tools for group audiences."