+1 613 - 592 - 0544
Ah yes. Sales. That fine art of connecting buyers with products and services that satisfy their needs, wants and, possibly, their desires. Post-pandemic, do we just pick up where we left off? Of course not. But what is different and what do we do?
Face-to-face retail sales are shifting increasingly to convenience (I want my tomatoes, my drill bit, my shampoo right now) and to experience (offer me a coffee, tell me I look great in these shoes, try on the jewellery). Everything else will continue to move to commoditized online sales at an accelerated pace. So make your choice: convenience or experience.
Business to Business sales are in for the biggest change.
Over the last few months buyers and decision-makers have been trained to use video. They are now comfortable using it and will eschew face-to-face meetings. If your sales process is designed around a face-to-face meetings – you’ll need to change it. And if you expect to send your road worriers out to win new accounts, they may not want to go anymore and prefer to engage virtually. Are you OK with that?
A trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic is an increase in buyer-driven sales engagement. Buyers expect that you will provide enough information for them to self-qualify. They will not accept being ‘led’ or ‘managed’. And of course, they will have a buyer-centric view of the world. They are not interested in your stuff – they are interested in the value they hope to get from it (read Nobody Wants Your Stuff). They want to drive the process. How easy are your products and services to self-qualify and engage with? How well does your engagement process uncover unknown needs and desires? How will you manage the engagement process when the client leads it?
When clients self-qualify, your sales funnel will be steeper – fewer prospects and a higher close rate. Rather than asking your sales team to qualify clients, your on-line engagement processes should do that work, and your salespeople will engage later in the process. If so, you’ll need to rethink what your sales team does, how you measure and compensate, and what skills they’ll need to do it.
As salespeople engage, they will need to add value to the process. What expertise must they have? As the engagement continues, it is likely that buyers will look at your team members’ profiles – Company website? LinkedIn? Does it match what the client expects? Gone are the days of the uniformed IBM salespeople. Today’s salespeople have presence and personality and broadcast it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Are you OK with that? How do you manage it?
At a corporate level, it means that the company needs to sharpen its brand message and market position so that you are efficiently attracting only those clients the company is best suited to serve (more here in Best in The World).
On that note, I’ll leave you with a little story.
I led a sales team that was selling mobile paging services that bounced off a satellite about 36,000km above the equator. At first we had very little success getting anyone to talk to us. So we held a team meeting and narrowed down our market qualifications as follows:
• Trucking companies (only needed status and location info)
• Long-distance (otherwise they would use local cellular services)
• Truckload carriers (terminal-to-terminal carriers had no route variation)
• Dry Freight (Could pick up backhaul loads. Tankers and flatbeds typically returned to base empty)
• Privately owned (New technology - Owner’s decision (early adopter) vs board decision)
• Under 45 (at that time older than 45 was not familiar with digital messaging)
Target market: Mobile > Trucking companies > Long-distance > Truckload > Dry freight > privately owned > Under 45. With this focus, we closed about 75% of the prospects with whom we engaged.
As we move towards a buyer-driven world, how you position yourself will be even more critical. Too broad - you don’t entice anyone. Too narrow - you miss the market.
Few companies are actively rethinking their post-pandemic sales processes. We recommend organizing a workshop (on-line of course) with two or three selected salespeople and marcom people to brainstorm what has changed and how you can make it work for you. Don’t fight it – go with it and win.
If you would like us to design and facilitate that workshop please let me know.
For another dimension on leadership during COVID19 read my colleague Graham’s post on caring for your team's well being.
If you are planning your COVID 19 rebound, you may want to have a look at the 5-Step Rebound Plan. Not for everyone, but great for companies who want to invent their own futures. Let me know if you’d like to chat.