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5 Tips for Retailers on How to Sell from Home

Virtual sales consultations are here… and here to stay

Virtual consultations may have been on your long-term business plan but, with the COVID-19-induced social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates, the future is now.

People are stuck in their homes. Their lives are disrupted. Things around them feel dangerous and out of control.

With all of this, they are craving a little bit or normalcy and control. As providers of products for their homes, it's our job to be "out there" helping them feel more at home, more settled, in their spaces. But, for an industry that's worked in-home since the dawn of time, how do we "get out there" if we're stuck at home?

The tech exists to make the transition from in-home to from-home selling something practical and quite easy to manage. While this inevitable shift has been forced upon us perhaps faster than we were prepared for, it doesn’t have to be hard or scary. There are five steps and critical considerations retailers can consider to get started.

  1. Test your Tech

Pick a platform to help run virtual consultations professionally. The platform should:

  • Offer screen-share capabilities,
  • Have native streaming video and audio,
  • Work with any platform or device easily, and
  • Have a simple interface that is easy for customers and sales consultants to use.

I'm a fan of Zoom because it checks all the above boxes but is also inexpensive, easy and scalable.

Once you have picked that platform, be sure that you and each and every person on your team who will be doing virtual consultations has tested and played with that tech enough to be comfortable. You have to be able to help your client through some basic tech questions such as: how to turn on video, how to connect to audio, etc.

  1. Own Where you Are

For those who are total pros on video calls—congratulations; you are ahead of the game. If not, no need to pretend that you are.

Clients will appreciate your authenticity and will connect with you better if you're real with them. Make a mistake? Share your email inbox instead of your company presentation? No worries. Laugh it off. A little bit of laughter goes a long way. Always own where you are. Remember that this is new for customers too.

  1. Rock your Process

Whether online or in person, it is critical to leverage a sales process to get a predictable outcome. When in a virtual consultation, be sure to follow the same process you use in-person. Do not cut corners. For example, do not skip probing questions. Ours is still a desire-driven sales process; spend the time you need, early in the conversation, to uncover the motivations, needs, hopes and expectations of the client.

  1. Show Extra Enthusiasm

In person, your physical presence can create a sense of authority, connection, excitement that's easy to read through you posture, gait, body language. Over video, you lose a huge amount of that. Transfer the lost form of physical communication into energetic communication.

Adding a little extra enthusiasm—big smiles, strong eye contact, expressive language—helps make the excitement more contagious when you're remote. Excitement helps to hold their attention.

Amp up your energy level beyond what you think is appropriate. The more excited the consumer is, the more likely they'll be pulled away by the myriad of minor and major distractions that will be all around them while you're on the other side of the screen.

  1. Be Extra Prepared

When prepping for an in-home consult, you spend time getting dressed, cleaning your vehicle, getting samples in order, organizing marketing supplies, and so on. Be equally prepared for virtual consultations. Check off each and every one of these prep-steps before you turn on your video:

  • Make sure your video background looks good and is distraction-free.
  • Check that you have good natural lighting. If you don't (or even if you do), I strongly suggest investing in a ring light.
  • Have your product and project images organized in a way that is easy to find what you need.
  • Double check that you have good pictures of the close-up details you would usually show in-person.
  • Open your company presentation in "slide show" mode and be sure you know how to share it correctly.
  • Make sure you're dressed for success and ready to sell.
  • Don't wing it. You've worked too hard to waste this opportunity.

Customers need what you have to offer and they want your help. Get out there to get it to them… virtually.

Click here to see how fenestration companies are embracing virtual sales.


Madeleine MacRae

Madeleine MacRae

Madeleine MacRae is founder and owner of MM MacRae Coaching & Consulting, where she brings her clients real-world experience from working for over a decade with contractors, dealers and manufacturers in the home professionals industry. She can be reached at