Virtual Sales and a Call to Action

November 8th, 2021

Article Published in The Representor Fall 2021

Author Kingsland Coombs

President, Control Sales, Inc

We need to have a conversation about virtual meetings. From my perspective, there are far too many virtual calls that still have the feel of a technology thrust upon us during dark times. Something reasonably effective, but a temporary substitute for “real” selling. Alas, we have come to realize that virtual calls are here to stay no matter what happens with Covid.  They are efficient, effective, and many customers PREFER them.  So, why haven’t we 100% embraced this medium and become experts?

Aren’t we in the business of selling our brand, our manufacturers’ brand?  How is that accomplished if we don’t present ourselves in the best possible way?  In the ERA Virtual Training classes, a lot was discussed about best practices for virtual meetings.  I will share three main thoughts with a focus on customer sales calls.

#1 Energy and Professionalism

We are now selling our brands through a virtual medium that is an invisible barrier to personal connections. Before Covid, our skillset included ways to maximize our physical presence with firm handshakes, food, eye contact, vocal tone, body language, and carefully reading a room. Are these skills suddenly less relevant? In fact, the opposite is true! We must enhance our skillset to create a virtual presence that achieves the same personal connections that our physical presence once did.

This begins with how we present ourselves on camera. Must the camera be on? Even if the customer’s is not? A thousand times yes! If you were invited to a face-to-face meeting, would you join via a conference call? Customers want to see your smiling faces no matter whether they have their camera on or not. Professional dress, personal grooming, and bright, flattering lighting will make you camera ready. Frame yourself so that your head and shoulders dominate the screen. Make sure the sound is clear. Your appearance matters in person and matters virtually as well.

Put everyone at ease by being relaxed and confident on camera. This can feel awkward at first, so practice. Smile and make eye contact by using the camera, not the monitor. Use hand gestures for emphasis and vary your vocal tone to keep your audience engaged. Share your personality by telling stories that help form connections and memories. Eliminate all distractions like notifications or noises to ensure your focus.

Importantly, bring your positive energy and enthusiasm. You may have to amp it up for it to translate virtually! Be willing to try new things and seek feedback and coaching.

#2 Follow the Scout Motto “Be Prepared”

The best salespeople prepare for a call. Virtual calls require extra planning to compensate for the loss of the natural conversation when meeting in-person. We need to replace the quick glance around the customer’s office for clues about common interests and the impromptu factory tour that provided more ways to sell our line card.  Instead, we do more research before the call.

Ask questions, review websites, scrub your CRM data.  When reviewing websites, focus on the customers’ products you are confident are designed in your area.  Try as best you can to break down the product in your mind and how it relates to your line card.  A block diagram visual is a method to help focus your thoughts.  Then, prepare meaningful visual content and possibly invite a technical expert from the factory to join the meeting. Also, leverage modern search tools to learn about your audience and find personal connections through previous positions, companies, achievements, or interests.

Virtual calls are time sensitive. Create a meeting agenda in 10-to-20-minute increments with time to establish rapport and wrap up. Be prepared to shrink or expand call length depending on last minute customer requests with a plan B,C, and D.

#3 Display Competence

You have one chance to make a first impression and fumbling through a virtual meeting is not the way to gain confidence. Practice, practice, practice all aspects of virtual meeting technology. Nothing is worse than an unforeseen delay that causes participants to drop off the call.

Know the meeting platform ahead of the call or be sure to practice before the meeting. Master the virtual meeting essentials: seamless screen sharing, file sharing, and website navigation via a good connection with fast internet speeds and clear audio. If you are hosting a larger meeting, why not include Chat? Chat allows a level of participation often not seen in face-to-face meetings.   

Embrace Change

The sale is the same, only the tools are new. Now you can meet with more people in less time and do it from almost anywhere. In the long run, virtual technology will gain you access to more stakeholders. It is time for account sales representatives to be THE experts in virtual sales calls.

Chicagoland-Wisconsin ERA Hosts Educational Program

August 24th, 2018


The Chicagoland-Wisconsin Chapter of the Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) held an educational presentation and lunch on June 1, 2018, at Avnet Inc., in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

The event featured guest speaker Richard Greaves, senior partner at Empowering Systems. Greaves’ presentation, “Leverage the Latest Collaboration Tools,” discussed the latest collaboration tools and why Office 365 is a great platform for rep firms and all salespeople.

Chapter President Rick LaPiana of Cain-Forlaw Company said, “I am a strong believer that collaboration is key to efficiency and success in component sales, but I was not aware of all the tools, tips and tricks that Office 365 provides. Rich Greaves did a nice job illustrating the benefits at our June 1 chapter event. In fact, this meeting convinced me to move the entire company over to Microsoft 365. Everyone who attended, was pleased with the interaction and discussion at the event.”

Chapter Vice President, Fiscal & Legal, Kingsland Coombs, CPMR, CSP, of Control Sales Inc., who helped organize the event, added: “Rich was tasked with explaining and demonstrating for us the latest in collaboration software tools. He did a very fine job showing us the benefits of the Office 365 suite of products including the Microsoft Teams application. Since the presentation, our company has started to use Teams for file sharing, chatting and screen sharing. We are pleased with the results so far and thank Rich for the nudge we needed to get started!”

The chapter is planning more networking and educational events for the remainder of 2018. For more information, visit

About Chicagoland-Wisconsin ERA
Chicagoland – Wisconsin ERA is a local resource for continuing education programs, networking opportunities, peer discussion groups and an array of services designed to help improve professionalism and profitability. For more information, visit

About ERA
The 83-year-old Electronics Representatives Association (ERA) is the international trade organization for professional field sales companies in the global electronics industries, manufacturers who go to market through representative firms and global distributors. It is the mission of ERA to support the professional field sales function through programs and activities that educate, inform and advocate for manufacturers’ representatives, the principals they represent and the distributors who are reps’ partners in local territories. For more information about ERA, visit