The way we sell has changed – forever!
Research by McKinsey shows that 90% of selling has now moved online and more than 50% of companies surveyed believe this is as, or more effective than traditional sales methods used prior to COVID.
This is not a view shared by salespeople on the frontline, with 70% feeling that remote selling is not as effective as in-person.
Change has arrived, suddenly, without time for procrastination or preparation, on a global scale and for the majority of organisations and salespeople it’s terrifying.
Sales departments are being asked to change a way that has worked for hundreds of years and venture into an unknown world of technology and virtual relationships.
But in order to survive and ultimately thrive in a post-COVID economy, salespeople need to embrace the reality that remote selling is possible, it does work, it is just different!
So how can we turn this crisis into an opportunity, to become better salespeople and really stand out from our competitors?
- Often the biggest challenge to overcome is how to connect emotionally with customers in a virtual environment. Now more than ever, we need to listen and empathise. People want to talk, and one of my favourite Dale Carnegie principles is ‘Become genuinely interested in the other person’. Everyone’s experience of this pandemic has been different, be a good listener, encourage your prospect or customer to talk. It builds rapport, trust and shows you care.
- Although trusted relationships can help win the sale, the other critical factor is credibility. Consider your online presence on social media and your website. Think about what you post and share. Who’s your ideal customer? What challenges are they facing? What are their needs? Post content that speaks to them, so that you are seen as a credible expert.
- Build trust by addressing 4 key factors in your online call:
- What you do – be professional, on-time and prepared.
- How you look – look ready for business, working from home has made us all more casual, but remember you are trying to make a good impression. So, although a suit may be overkill, sportswear, unless you work for a sports company, may look like you’re focusing on something else.
- What you say – be concise, use evidence, try to tell a story. For example, ‘ When we worked with …. what they really liked was….’. Give buyers the most important information about your solution and how it will benefit them.
- How you say it – your presentation skills need to be stronger than ever. Energy and passion can be lost in online calls, so you need to up your levels, ask re-engaging questions to ensure you’ve got their attention. Clients buy into presentations they participate in!
- Sell the benefits of online meetings to your clients. It speeds up the flow of communication, can allow shorter, more frequent touchpoints and is a more efficient use of everyone’s time, as well as being better for the planet.
- Set the scene, consider the environment you are doing the call from. Check your lighting, background and sound quality before you start. Always have your camera on. If you feel confident enough, consider emailing them prior to the meeting asking them to have their camera on as well, so that it feels more like a normal meeting.
- Improve your internal conversations, regularly liaise with your marketing and customer service departments to ensure you can quickly adapt to the rapidly changing needs of the marketplace, so you can stand apart from your competitors.
- Add value where you can, share resources and links that help and support them in the challenges they are facing, building their confidence and belief that you are a trusted advisor.
Although our core process has changed, it is possible to connect and close a sale without a handshake. Your customers will be having to adapt to new working habits as well, trust in yourself and the skills you have already developed, all that has happened is that you’ve moved the room.
Graham Perkins is a Sales Director and Trainer for Dale Carnegie Northern England. Recognised as one the organisation’s top performing global salespeople and sales managers, he partners with organisations such as Peel LLP, Brother UK, Graham and Brown and Revolution Bars to transform individual performance and organisational results.
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