“We immediately revamped our entire marketing program and marketing structure,” Patridge says. “It was a very fast, very quick process. I decided I could either sit back and watch my business crumble or be proactive and look at how to get sales going.”
He worked with his marketing agency and web designer to redo his websites and produce videos of every hot tub model for virtual presentations. His site now features a pop-up chat, and all phone numbers ring directly to a salesperson’s phone — never an automated system.
Patridge’s marketing team visited his five showrooms and created a customer experience reminiscent of an in-person visit. His sales team could easily email short videos to prospective customers or share Google Drive files of a particular hot tub model.
On the redesigned websites, customers could schedule a virtual shopping option via a pop-up on the home screen. Before promoting these virtual opportunities on the website, Patridge trained his 14 salespeople on how to conduct an effective Zoom conference. He also showed staff how to open the email invite, log in and get started. With any virtual training program, Patridge advises always ensuring audio and video are working on both ends. He chose Zoom because many of his customers were already familiar.
While Zoom is a favorite video-conferencing tool, Patridge also recognizes it isn’t the only one. Portal from Facebook, Digideck, Mediafly and Showpad offer advanced virtual sales presentation software. His staff knows how to use FaceTime, which they will offer to customers who prefer it over Zoom. Sometimes, he says, it’s even easier than that.
“We pretty much use whatever format is most comfortable with each consumer,” he says. “For some of them, it was just a cell phone and texting pictures.”
Townley Pool and Spa customers can avail of both in-store virtual tech and virtual sales presentations. David Townley, president of the Arkansas-based business, says his staff conducts around three sales presentations per day and four to five presentations on the weekends. A 65-inch television in the spa area of the store uses AirPlay via an iPad to showcase every model and color available. This allows the sales team to zoom in on different areas of the hot tub for a customer to see up close.
“It is almost better than having limited models on the floor,” Townley says.
For customers who still aren’t comfortable coming into the showroom, a virtual sales presentation option is available.
Because most individuals are familiar with modern technology, Townley says it’s been easy for his team to go digital and that there was no real need to hold staff trainings for FaceTime, Zoom and iPad. “We are using what our employees are currently comfortable with,” he says. “Now is not the time to reinvent the wheel. If they want to use Zoom or FaceTime, we let them. If they want to use GoToMeeting or just text, we allow it. You must provide several tools to your employees.”
To achieve a professional sales presentation, Townley uses a one-liner he learned in the Navy — “proper prior practice prevents poor performance” — for ensuring his sales teams remember that preparation is key to effective sales. But personality matters, too, he says, and hot tub retailers agree a script doesn’t feel authentic.
“We allow our employees the freedom to learn from the customer, then provide the details they are searching for,” Townley says. “This is a relationship business, not just transactional. Scripts can lead to problems.”
Sales presentations should be a blast for both customers and salespeople. Once retailers have helped sales staff get comfortable with the technology, a presentation can be done from anywhere there’s a Wi-Fi signal. Patridge says taking notes and listening to the customer helps a sales presentation — even a virtual one — flow. He believes the customer needs to be doing 80% of the talking.
“A video presentation has to be just like a live sales presentation, where it’s not a monologue,” Patridge says. “It’s much more interactive asking the consumer a lot of questions. The more feedback we’re getting from the consumer, the more information we’re gathering, then we can help them make the right decision and answer all their questions.”
Like an in-person presentation, the goal is to ensure the customer is happy with their purchase, Patridge says, adding that there should be both a human connection and education: “If they can’t come into a showroom and can’t see and touch the product firsthand,” Patridge says, “it’s important for the customer to feel [by the end of the presentation] that they’re making the right decision.”
5 Tips for a Smoother Virtual Sales Presentation
Preparation is a Must
Salespeople who prepare appear professional and polished to customers. That doesn’t mean memorizing a script. Ensure you know the major features and details of the products you’ll be talking about, and focus on the ones the customer is most interested in.
Before hopping on a video chat or other online option, test the audio and video. You may even have a coworker hop on to see what your connection looks like a few minutes before the call. Have a backup plan in case your primary virtual tools fail.
Engage the Customer
The presentation is for the customer to understand all their options and get questions answered. Before the call, find out exactly what they’re looking for and narrow visuals to their needs. A slideshow, photos and even a tour can keep the customer engaged.
Even if you’ve rehearsed your presentation several times, don’t let it be obvious to the customer. Pause after major points to allow the customer to ask questions or absorb what you’ve said. Remember to take a breath if you find yourself rushing through the pitch.
There’s a good chance your prospective customer has a lot of questions they want answered. Slow down and allow them to ask. Spend most of your time listening and writing down what they need. It will help them feel their desires are taken seriously.