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The best practice blueprint for virtual appointments

Posted by JOOR on Mon, Jan 25, '21

By now, we all get it: virtual wholesale appointments are here to stay. But did you know that they are not just a new way of doing business, but your buyer’s preferred way of doing business?  On average worldwide, B2B buyers favor digital sales appointments 2X more than meeting in-person; and in Spain and the UK that number goes up to 3X.  And even more interestingly: B2B buyers who have an excellent online sales experience become 2X more likely to return to the brand on an ongoing basis a ‘seller of choice.’ 

So, what exactly makes for this ‘excellent online sales experience?’  Extensive research conducted over the course of 2020 shows that speed, convenience, personalization and transparency top the B2B buyers’ list.  When we translate these asks specifically into the context of a virtual wholesale appointment, the ideal would follow a blueprint like this: 

Put your best foot forward.  Your prospective buyer’s journey starts way before your virtual meeting.  To delight your buyers with a fast and easy first impression, make your virtual showroom like a consumer-facing site. This means top notch imagery and it means creative use of video. It means making the most of digital tools to tell the story behind your brand and get across the true-to-life look and feel of your collection. Additionally, UX that guides the buyer through just the right amount of detail at each level of discovery--from the inspiration and personality of a collection, to functionalities and silhouettes, to available colorways on individual styles--will quickly give buyers a clear understanding of your story, and how their customers can connect.   

Do your homework. 69% of online decisionmakers want virtual pitches tailored to their specific needs--which makes a lot of sense. Greater efficiency plays a big role in the promise of digital. And discovering a prospective buyers’ budget, needs and interests pre-appointment makes it possible to cut to the chase with a truly curated experience. 

Tee yourself up for success. Sending focused linesheets for consideration beforehand can make appointment time even more individualized and efficient. And  JOOR’s platform allows brands to auto-create and send highly customized multi-media linesheets--personalized virtual showrooms, as it were--at scale. This enables brands and retailers to use their online time together to hone the first cut and often finalize the order over the course of the first meeting, rather than create it from scratch. 

Get moving with video.  More than ¾ of B2B buyers prefer discussing and placing orders via video conference over in-person meetings or phone calls. Not surprisingly, video-based meetings currently drive the lion’s share of wholesale revenue.  If you have not yet chosen a video conferencing provider to host your virtual meetings, research what will work best for your team (popular choices include Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams--but many solutions are available, and most include free and low-cost options). Test the chosen format internally to increase familiarity with features, and learn how to troubleshoot on the fly.

Practice your virtual game.  Digital go-to-market in various forms has served as our industry lifeline for some months now--but it’s time to move from reactive mode to thoughtful training and use of best practices.  Although overlap exists with in-person sales, virtual selling draws on a somewhat different skill set--at least in terms of emphasis. For instance, collaboration drives it. The online appointment addresses customer needs with an eye towards building long term partnerships, rather than persuading and influencing for immediate outcomes. Additionally, without the natural social context and cues of an in-person meeting, brand reps need to follow guidelines to keep virtual appointments on track--such as keeping meetings as concise and as personable as possible, staying aware of on-screen body language, and following a concrete agenda with specific next steps.  Practicing online role plays with internal colleagues can help commit these newer digital meeting skills to muscle memory.

Really listen, and really care.  Times are tough, and buyers value an empathetic approach. Virtual appointments should serve as an intensified continuation of the discovery process--a chance for brands to listen, learn about their customers’ customers, and design a plan to best support them. Ironically, the many efficiencies of digital trading--such as automation, centralization of data-based insights, and the dramatic reduction in travel and meeting time and expense--produce the bandwidth to humanize brand/retailer relationships and dive deeper into market distinctions and particular opportunities. The more specifics learned, the more personalized and valuable the recommendations, and the greater the chances for full-price sell-through and the strengthening of long-term partnerships.  

Set your sights on one and done.  Charted correctly, the digital sales process can create significantly shorter sales cycles--with all the production, forecasting and revenue-producing benefits that come with that change. Insight-rich, automated, and customizable digital processes lend themselves to quick and confident decision-making.  Tools like JOOR’s Edit enable partners to personalize, styleboard, merchandise and refine assortments together in real time--speeding the completion and boosting the quality of the final edit. To further streamline the process, buyers can even place their orders via credit card directly from the Virtual Showroom page. 

 

To learn more about how JOOR helps brands optimize virtual appointments and create standout online experiences, request a demo.

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