Ep 45 – The Advantages of Virtual Selling – Brad Adams

Presentation of the episode

On the 45th episode of the Virtual Selling Podcast, our guest is Brad Adams, senior master sales trainer and VP consulting at Sales Gravy.

He talks about virtual selling, its benefits and its disadvantages.

About Brad Adams

To learn more about Brad Adams click on the links below :


With the pandemic that came upon us, the rise of video conferencing tools like Microsoft teams and zoom has led to more aspects of the sales conversation to occur virtually. And what began as a crisis reaction has evolved into the new normal, but how normal is the new normal? We’re talking about how the strong shift from in-person to virtual selling has transformed B2B sales experience, virtual sales enablement, new organization’s KPIs. Everything is evolving. In the virtual selling podcast we address these issues in depth twice a week with the experts and leaders of these transformations, heads of sales, sales ops, and sales enablements of the most innovative companies in the field. This podcast is sponsored by sales, the new SAS platform to make your customer meetings more engaging and better prepared.
Find out how you can shorten sales cycles, convert more leads and increase customer engagement. Virtual selling is here to stay. And so is

Gabriel : Hi, everybody. I’m very happy to be with Brad Adams, who is senior master sales trainer and VP consulting at Sales Gravy. Sales Gravy is the organization with Jeb Blount that created the first book and now, the Bible of virtual sellings that you can see on the right of Brade Adams for the ones that are having the video, and your passion is really to teach people. Hi, Brad, I’m very happy to be with you. How are you doing ?

Read more
Brad Adams : I’m doing great.

Gabriel : Can you tell us a little bit about Sales Gravy and what you do there ?

Brad Adams : Sure. Sales Gravy is a sales training company that works with companies all over the world.

We teach primarily from, as you can see in, in my background, all of these books, these wonderful books that Jeb Blount has written and a big smash for us recently, of course, has been the virtual selling that you speak about because of just the global environments that we’re in. So, we provide companies with sales training. We provide companies with sales coaching, consulting, and licensing programs for all of the programs we teach.

Gabriel : Great, and we will discuss about virtual training and what are the benefit of virtual training, the advantage and disadvantage. So let’s go first on this topic, you were the first to make a book on the subject.

So what are the advantage of virtual training, and all the benefits that we can see now since three years, Virtual selling. Sorry.

Brad Adams : No, that’s fine. So the advantages of virtual selling are vast actually. When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, sales people that either went to the office every day or were out in the field, they had to figure out a way to still talk to people and still sell their products or services and, being excellent in a virtual environment is just absolutely paramount to your success as a sales representative.

The advantage of the training is we teach you step by step processes and frameworks and best practices. So that you can become excellent in those environments, so that you can connect with people almost as if you were in person and you could become their trusted advisor for all things that your company provides.

Gabriel : And so that’s for the advantage and also the way you teach your training on this topic and what is the design advantage of virtual selling ? So the way we teach the training is, in small chunks of time, usually once every week. So, I’m in one of our studios today. We got very fortunate back in 2019. Jeb invested a lot of revenue and a lot of money into building out.

I believe we have six or seven now, world class studios, where we’ve hired people from the film production industries, technical people, videographers, editors, so that we can provide a legendary experience. So, this is one of my studios. This is a self-directed studio and we deliver training from these type studios. And the advantage of the virtual selling program is that, salespeople are able to get in front of their customers and virtual environments and know all the nuances from their technical setups, how to connect human to human and how to give those virtual presentations while still keeping people engaged so that you can both either remain their trusted advisor or become their trusted advisor.

Gabriel : From what I see of the studio that the books are very present. So that’s make credibility for sales gravy, and you also have a TV screen. That means that during video meeting, you share some stuff on the TV ?

Brad Adams : So I have the ability to do things like this, where I can, I can bounce around to the slides. I would have my slide deck projected right here. And so, we deliver the training in such a way that we still engage with the people, we have breakout sessions. And there’s four things that, as a salesperson, you have to be aware of from a technical setup standpoint.

The first thing is your video.

The problem with just a laptop is that the video camera is « it’s okay » at best. And so we recommend going out and getting a webcam of some sort. They’re not terribly expensive, but the quality of that picture is such a massive improvement over just what comes with your laptop.

The second tele technical element is the audio.

As you can see, I’ve got a microphone here, but, you could either get a stationary microphone or, you know, just call in using your phone. The microphone on your phone, if you call into the meeting maker, is a lot better than the microphone on your laptop.

And the worst thing that could happen is if you had some sort of a garbly gooky, you know, audio, because that audio- I don’t know if people are just listening to this, but I was tapping on my microphone creating a bad experience. So you don’t want to, you want the people to hear the words that you’re saying. As you’re articulating those words, so that they can feel comfortable.

There is a, inside your brain, there’s, I’m not gonna get too deep into this, but there’s a thing called the amygdala. And the amygdala is looking for the patterns that are in your surroundings. And when that pattern is disrupted, it immediately grabs your attention. And this is our old cave person brain.

And the reason for this, if our, our brain detects a threat off to the side, we immediately look at it to see if it’s gonna kill us or not. And so the fast forward to today, the problem with virtual environments is your participants, amygdalas are feeling like this isn’t right. Something’s not right.

This isn’t normal. And it puts a lot of stress on the brain trying to figure that out. Instead of the person just listening, and watching and learning and answering questions that you’re asking of them. So getting back to why the technical setups are so important, it’s because we don’t want to trigger the participants, you know, cave person brain into thinking that something is not wrong or something is wrong.

And if they think that something’s wrong, they’re gonna have a hard time listening to all the value. Your products and services bring to the table. So, you gotta have the audio, you gotta have the video, you’ve gotta be properly framed. For me, you can see I’m standing and I want to be able to deliver the body language.

I want them to see me as if I was in person and to feel as comfortable as they can. And then lastly, you’ve got the backdrop. I’m in a studio. We have a very busy backdrop, but it’s clearly on brand for us. I always recommend that everybody looks at their backdrop behind them,

and, you know, they close the doors. They clean and tidy their backdrop behind them so that the feeling is a good feeling. And if you do use a backdrop of some sort virtual backdrop, just realize that your hands and arms are gonna disappear if you move around too quickly.

And the final thing is lighting.

So the ideal lighting situation is to put a ring light right in front of. That’s you know, behind the camera so that it casts a nice even light. Now I have studio lights. That’s not what everybody should have to do of course. And we want to be pay attention to windows. If we had a window right behind us, that window would cast light over us and make us look like a shadow.

Or if we had to the left or the right, again, these are all things that might trigger your prospect or clients amygdala to think that something’s wrong. So those four technical aspects of a good virtual call, good video call, are really, really important.

Gabriel : Yeah. And, I’m not in my normal setting because my family is at home.

So I can’t be in the, the office that I use. And I don’t have the good background. But you are talking about the ring lights and those one are reflecting into my glass. So I was not able to have those type of flight because you can’t just see the ring in the middle of the glass, which is not very nice either.

Brad Adams : No, but I’ve seen you in your studio and you do have a great setup.

Gabriel : Thank you. And what are the common mistakes that you see when sales team are working in a virtual environment ? You talked about bad call setups, and not adaptation to the tech, but what are the other mistakes that you can see ?

Brad Adams : So some of the other things that we, that we need to do well are around the human elements of giving these conversations. And so some of the mistakes I see people make is number one, they won’t go on video in the first place. So when I invite somebody to a meeting- we use zoom.

There’s tons of good platforms. I just send them the link. I don’t send them all the callin numbers and all the, the SIC codes and the tap taps. I just strip out the link and send them the link. And the reason I do that is I want to give them one way to get on the call. Now they can choose to be on camera or off of camera.

Secondly, you always want to be on camera. If you’re the person selling or presenting, you always want to be on camera. They have a much easier time connecting with you emotionally. Now I don’t. For those of you that are seeing this in the video format, I pushed a button to fade to black. So this is the experience they have when it’s on a call they’re just hearing words- and it’s not as good. And when they can connect with you, in a live situation like this, they’re gonna have a much easier time, you know, creating that rapport and that relationship with you. So even if you’re prospect or client is not on camera, you should always be on camera. So that’s one of the mistakes.

Another mistake people make, is just their wardrobe. Now. I’m just on a call with you for the podcast, but I always put on my blazer or my suit coat. And I dress as if I was going to be in person with a client. And when I do that I think it shows a level of professionalism.

So you always wanna address professionally. Next you wanna engage with everybody, even if people are just dialed in or not on camera, you want to talk to everybody that’s on the call. As a sales rep, we all know sometimes we have 2, 3, 5 people that we’re talking to, and there’s always one person that is more of the decision maker.

That’s kind of driving the conversation, but you wanna make sure that you connect with everybody on the call, ask everybody their opinion, ask everybody an open ended question. So that we can, so we can understand collaboratively what the entire group feels. That’s another mistake that people make is if one person’s on camera, they’ll just talk to that person or they won’t engage the whole stakeholder group.

And then, another thing too is, is just the eye contact. So, when you have this big screen with everybody on there, it’s really easy to start looking. at the corners as the people are talking. But the problem is when you’re not looking at the camera, it doesn’t feel like you’re looking at them.

And so you have to be worried about where your eyes are looking. You have to be focusing on it’s the eye contact paradox is like, where are you looking ? And your eyes are going all around. And making sure that even though the person’s talking over there, that you’re focused on the camera so that they can feel like that you’re truly listening to the, you know, to the answer that they’re giving you for the questions.

Gabriel : That is very difficult to do by the way. Because, you want to see the person, you want to keep contact with them, but because the camera is not at the right, the same place and the image of your guest, it’s very difficult to do so.

Brad Adams : Yes, it really is. And it just like anything that you do that requires some level of excellence. If you play a sport, if you play a musical instrument, if you do something artistic, all of those things require a ton of practice. And, as a salesperson, you need to be, you know, practicing.

So whether you get somebody on your team or if you just want to do it with somebody or family, but just practice. That preparation that you do for every call is really important because you don’t feel as comfortable either in these environments. I’ve trained 10~12,000 sales people over the past couple years in a virtual environment.

And every time I start with a new client, there’s a little bit of anxiety, just because, you know, you wanna make sure that they get a great experience and you have to prepare, you have to understand what you’re gonna say when you’re gonna say it. What you’re gonna ask, who you’re gonna ask.

Research the stakeholders before they come on, you know, all the things that you would normally do, whether, and if you’re in person or a phone call, it’s magnified when you’re in a virtual environment, because you have to be almost perfect. And if you can be almost perfect, they’re gonna be relaxed.

They’re gonna feel at ease and they’re going to, you know, listen to what you have to say. They’re gonna engage in your questions and, there’s a really good chance that you’re gonna keep moving the process forward and then ultimately get the sale or get the renewal.

Gabriel : And you was discussing before about standing during a virtual meeting. But you don’t do that when you are in a person meeting you, you normally sit with your buyer at the same table and maybe sometime taking notes. Why on a virtual setting you recommend to stand ?

Brad Adams : That’s a great question. First of all I have a little stand right here that I’ll put my notepad.

Of course, there’s also some great meeting maker, things that support your meeting maker, where you can take notes too, but I will typically write notes and I’ll let them know so that when they know that my eyes are being diverted, I would say, Hey, Gabriel, um, that’s really important. I’m gonna write that down.

So I just, I want you to know that if I’m writing my notes over here, so you don’t think I’m playing on my phone or something. So I always let people know that I’m taking notes. But back to the question, I think when you stand, you have just a, an increased level of energy and energy matters, because when you’re enthusiastic about what you do for a living, when you’re enthusiastic about the company you represent, it’s gonna come through even on a camera.

And so, I want to, I want to project. My best self. I want to be confident and excited about what I’m talking about. And then also the, the body language, 70% of communication is nonverbal. In fact, if I have time to tell a quick story.

Gabriel : Sure.

Brad Adams : Great. So I went to Italy with my family and we were on the Amalfi coast down in Southern Italy. And, we were all eating at, a table and there next to us, there’s a group of people that were from Ravello and only one person at that table spoke Italian. And so, now we were, everybody was drinking a little bit of lemon cell, so, you know, we were, we were feeling good.

But I went and sat down with that with that group of Italians and had a conversation with them for two hours. Yet I spoke no Italian, they spoke no English and you know, there’s a lot of hand motions and we didn’t really understand a lot of what was being said, but yet we were still able to communicate because of body language.

So body language, the reason that that salespeople always say, I feel better when I’m in person. It’s because you have body language and you can read their body language. That’s why you feel better in person. So when you’re standing, you have the ability to at least do from the waist up. You know, you have that ability to communicate with your face and with your smile and with your hands.

And so, it’s just easier than when you’re sitting down it’s you just don’t have quite that ability to do that. So again, it’s all about reaching into the camera and connecting with that human being so that you really have an opportunity for them to like you, understand you, you can listen to them and ultimately you want them to trust you.

It’s much easier to do when you’re standing, you have that enthusiasm and they can read your body language.

Gabriel : Still staying on the techniques. I see that you have a solution to show slides and to incrust them, this is the tech, the tools likes, I believe, live streams, those kind of tools.

Brad Adams : Yes. So there’s a right way to build a presentation deck there’s a right way to build to do that presentation. And, the first thing that I think about is a person’s attention span in a virtual environment. It’s a lot lower. If you used to go into person and have two hour meetings with your clients where you were presenting, you know, this is what we did last year, this is why you should buy these things.

You know, you can do that in person, in a virtual meeting. You don’t have two hours and it’s really difficult to do one hour. So my recommendation is to take your presentations and make them smaller. Make them easier, you know, put fewer points and bullets.

And, the other thing is when you’re in person, you know, you’re clicking to the screen, but then you’re looking at people and talking to them about what you’re, what you’re showing on the screen. And so you need to emulate that, and every environment. Allows you to do that.

So I’m gonna show you, of course, I don’t have a slide here. I’ve just got a Sales Gravything, but if I was gonna deliver this slide, I might say, hi, Gabriel, I’m Brad with Sales Gravy, and this is what we do and this is why you should buy from us, you know ? So I would deliver the slide where you can still see me, and then I’m gonna come off the slide and then I’m gonna engage everybody with questions.

So, Gabriel, what were your thoughts about that ? Nancy, how do you think that this might help your team ? Jennifer, you mentioned that your business development team is struggling. What are some of the things that you took away from that slide and then just get them talking again. And then when you’re ready to move to the new slide.

Just move to the new slide, engage again, and then come back and just rinse and repeat just constantly toggle on and off of those slides so that you can really emulate what it would feel like as if you were doing in a, in a, in a live meeting.

Gabriel : And so you do that with this streaming software, but why not using just the share documents of the, of teams or Google Meet, or Zoom.

Brad Adams : So, I have a setup that most people aren’t gonna have. And, and so I’m just using my tools, but absolutely you have the ability, if you’re using Team, Zoom, or any other, virtual platform, you’ll be able to just share the document and then unshare and then share the document and then unshare. And just, you know, constantly toggle back and forth so that you can keep everybody engaged as you’re going through the presentation.

Gabriel : Great. We are at the end of this podcast and this recording. Can you share with us, contact info for people to join you or to join Sales Gravy and to get some training with you ?

Brad Adams : Sure. My, my email is brad@sales And, is our website. But, but Gabriel, you were showing me your tool the other day.

How does your solution help people when it comes ? How does Salesdeck help them when they’re delivering those virtual presentations ?

Gabriel : That’s a good question too, thanks a lot. We are working to towards what you showed, meaning that we are working on a solution that help people using sales deck directly in the background. So using OBS and those kind of software. So with a bigger title and font on Salesdeck release for you to, to be able to do what you do, with your virtual studio to do the same, on a smaller setting, really using Salesdeck and the software like OBS or StreamLabs or whatsoever.

And what we really want to do is to create a tool that will help sales team to deploy the sales methodology in a virtual selling environment. Meaning mobilizing the playbook and we modelize it through the deck, training and we could partner on this topic to train sales team, during virtual selling with the right settings and with the right tools like Salesdeck and having the right playbooks that they follow during their meeting and during customer meeting using Salesdeck, because customer meeting use using sales deck are better prepared, more engaging and better documented.

And that is the question I ask you also about the notes. You need to take notes and it’s more difficult when you are standing up, than when you sit, on your computer. But maybe you can have also two, salesperson working together. One taking note and the other one being able to stand.

And we want also to use the solution to do sales meeting in a virtual environment because sales meetings are most of the time, the, the most boring meeting of the week. And with Salesdeck and with deals that are better documented with a real recap of every meeting, you can work together as a sales team to complete your meetings, to complete your play playbook, to add some new objection, to adapt it, to compare each deal, because the same question are, uh, asked during each meeting and so on.

So we really work on the implementation of the state in a virtual selling environment.

Brad Adams : Excellent.

Gabriel : Do you have some feedback about this vision ?

Brad Adams : Yeah, I think it’s wonderful. I think, you know, again, so what your tool does, is essentially, it connects, it streamlines, it makes it more easy and pleasurable.

For the client to observe what they’re seeing. And if you, if you can connect with them on an emotional basis where they’re not worried, if you eliminate the safety bias, the safety bias as human beings are naturally risk adverse. And if you can eliminate or minimize the safety bias, when they’re engaging in a virtual meeting, Then they’re gonna move forward with you at higher rates.

So your tool lubricates the virtual process and allows them to feel better the customers, to feel better about what the salesperson is showing them and, uh, what you showed me the other day in the demo. I love the tool and I can see how it’s gonna be very very helpful to sales teams. We just need, you know, need to get it out to them.

Gabriel : Yeah. Yeah, we will. Thanks a lot. This episode of the virtual selling podcast is over. Thanks for sticking around. Join us twice a week for a new episode, with new stories and challenge of giants in the field. If you enjoy today’s episode, we are always listening for your feedback. Share the show and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform so you don’t miss any episode.

This episode was brought to you by, the virtual saying platform that increase your sales team efficiency and sales readiness, enable remote management and bumps sales operational excellence. Book your demo today to discover how you can close more deal with engaging and better prepped customer meetings.

Thanks a lot, Brad. It was a pleasure.


Want to become a guest on The Virtual Selling Podcast? Book a slot with Gabriel here!

Join the Early Adopter Program today to be part of a leading sales solution provider (limited spots available!), or grow your sales training business by becoming a Partner.

To track launch updates, join the waiting list or book a demo!

Recent podcasts