An Open Letter to Salespeople

"Virtually Selling"

Dear Fellow Salespeople,

It has been about one year since we have all been “virtually selling” as a result of the global pandemic. The new normal now seems like it is here to stay. After hundreds of conversations with clients, colleagues and salespeople over the past several months, I wanted to share my perspective and thoughts with my fellow salespeople.

Thought #1:

Selling behind a screen is hard work. I’ve noticed that people are less engaged in conversations. Even if the people that I am speaking with in the meeting are on camera, I have noticed that people are rarely fully focused on the conversation. Multi-tasking is common and with everyone working from home and the distractions are rampant. Moreover, it is challenging to read body language. As someone who loves to meet clients in person, I’ve found this to be one of the negative aspects of “virtual” selling.” My take is that salespeople will need to adapt and learn additional skills to better understand how their message is landing with a buying group in a “virtual” selling environment. This means that salespeople will need to learn how to develop a dialogue with a larger buying group at the companies where they are selling. They will also need to know how to engage with these people via digital channels in order to establish, build and expand their relationships across their book of business.

Thought #2:

We may never go back to a full work week (Monday – Friday) in the office. People have become comfortable with meetings taking place on Zoom. Even after the pandemic ends, I imagine a world where companies have new policies and procedures in-place around allowing (or not allowing) external guests inside company buildings. There are positives and negatives here. My take is that salespeople need to realize that their digital brand will become even more important in the future. This means that salespeople will need to realize that they may never meet their prospects or clients in-person, ever. The entire relationship will most likely develop online and over Zoom meetings.

Thought #3:

Companies will need to figure out ways to compensate salespeople (and all of their employees) in ways that boost morale. This is going to be a challenge for all companies as everyone has different methods of measuring success. It is challenging to build morale over Zoom calls and “virtual” happy hours – the novelty has worn off and people are now looking for ways to get out of meetings and Zoom calls. My take is that salespeople need to realize that their compensation structures will most likely be changing in the future depending on their company, industry, etc. This means that salespeople will need to think in more detail about their own personal ‘why’ for being in the sales profession. 

Thought #4:

Our personal online shopping habits will continue to affect how our customers buy our commercial products and services for business. This trend was well in motion before the pandemic, but it has accelerated in a big way over the past year. Everyone is buying things online. Groceries, clothes, personal care products – the entire world is online all the time researching and buying things. My take is that salespeople need to do everything in their power to separate themselves from their competition as more and more products and services will be bought online. As a result, there will be less of a need for salespeople to be employed – especially for commodity products and services. 

Thought #5:

There is still a need for salespeople. With the proliferation of information online, people who buy products and services are overloaded with information. Great salespeople have the unique ability to help their buyer find problems and then, hopefully, solve those problems with the products and services that they are selling. My take is that salespeople will need to over-index and helping their buyers find and solve problems – these equates to salespeople becoming an ongoing student of their client, their industry, etc. As a result, salespeople who are constantly curious will always be in position to help their clients. 


Jesse Rothstein is a sales executive, author of the book ‘Carry That Quota’, and connector of people. His passion is executing on the idea that the currency of business and life are relationships. In his current role as a Global Account Manager at LinkedIn, Jesse is focused on connecting people, data, and technology to enhance overall business performance. He leads a team that has access to unique resources to help customers develop sales and marketing strategies to drive incremental revenue growth both now and in the future.

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