Some salespeople cannot wait for the pandemic to be finished and for life to go back to the way it was. Field Sales reps return to the road again, visiting their customers as they have done before. Indoor Sales will dial office numbers once more to reach their customer contacts. Sales Managers will go back to their old routine of coaching. If you think this is going to happen, you may find a few surprises. The new normal will be very different from what you think it will be. And the new situation salespeople will find themselves in will require a big focus on personal development. Let me highlight 8 drivers and their impact on us in Sales:
- Although virtual selling is born out of necessity, it is not temporary and will not go away. All research from thought-leading companies like Gartner, Forrester and Mckenzie points to a new situation where virtual selling is integrated into the traditional work routine. If customers are infrequently working from home, how would the salesperson know who to contact when and where? Buyers have moved on and are enjoying working remotely. In other words, virtual selling is not a band-aid to get you through the pandemic. Virtual selling will not go away. The sooner you accept that, the more motivated you become to develop yourself into being the best in virtual selling. Denial is the worst thing you can do. Spent time on having the right equipment, like lights and sound. Understand all the possible features of Zoom or MS Teams or whatever application you use. I am still surprised to see how many people have not got this right in the countless virtual meetings I attend or conduct. What do you think your customer’s experience will be if they cannot see or hear you properly?
- Selling virtually is different from face-to-face or over the phone selling. Some of the best relationship salespeople who are excellent in face-to-face meetings struggle in front of the camera. Creating that connection virtually requires different skills sets. You need to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Train yourself to be natural on camera. Stop selling and start helping.
- Buyers have changed in their search for information, and you got to adapt. Salespeople who think they can sell virtually the same way they were selling before will become less and less successful. You have got to understand how buyers buy. You need to know where they are in their buying process. Your questions, your insights and your next steps all depend on that. Selling with the buyer’s perspective will be the new normal.
- Prospecting is changing too. To get you in front of prospects, you need to be good at Connect Calling. Build an online relationship with future customers before you pick up the phone, which is not anymore your only available arsenal. You need to use video messages, WhatsApp, email and even chat. If you haven’t built an online relationship with your dream prospects, they may keep their door firmly closed.
- Blending will be the new normal. Mix the traditional and new communication channels. By 2025 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels. You need to be ready to approach your customers how they prefer to buy. Be ready to engage with the “everywhere customer”.
- Of all the new communication options, video messaging will be the next new thing. The biggest advantage, in my view, is being able to reach stakeholders you normally couldn’t. The number of stakeholders in the buying group is growing, but not all may want to meet with you (yet). Again, to make optimal use of video messaging, you need to be comfortable with being on camera.
- Digital buying is always on. Research shows that customers only spend 15% of their time talking to sales reps when looking for options. For most of the remaining time, they are online looking for information that can help them in their buying tasks. This has two consequences for sales organisations. One: Supplier websites need to provide insightful information buyers are looking for, and two: sales reps need to be able to explain insights in a sense-making way.
- Sales Managers need coaching skills more than ever. With themselves not 100% comfortable with the above changes, they need to upskill themselves rapidly and coach their teams on the new skills required in the new normal. They may not be the best at these themselves at first, but through enabling coaching they will help their sales reps and themselves.
This pandemic is pushing the buyer and the seller to do things differently. For the buyer, it is a more natural transition than for the seller. The above eight major changes are going to happen. Get ready for the new normal. It will be a lot different than what you thought it would be. Work to be done.
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