2020 was certainly a year of adjustment.
The pandemic, if nothing else, has taught us that nothing should be taken for granted. In that same spirit, if you want your business to thrive, or indeed survive, you must be prepared for what’s to come for the rest of 2021 and beyond.
Obviously, we’re all hoping that the near future brings us back to some form of normality, but no one can truly be sure of what’s to come, so how do we really know how the pandemic will have changed the sales landscape?
What is for sure is that COVID-19 has changed the landscape of business, and in order to thrive in this new environment it’s a case of adapting while continuing to offer your customers the best possible service.
In this blog, we’ve put together eight fool proof sales tips to aid in your quest to succeed now and post-pandemic.
#1: Sales Professionals Should Be Empathetic & Understanding
Salespeople and business development managers have never had it easy, but the pandemic’s impact on the overall sales pipeline has made things especially tough.
The most forward-thinking sales leaders are empathetic and understanding towards their prospects and their wider team, which helps them offer a personalised, detailed-oriented approach, thereby increasing confidence and ensuring everyone is on the same page.
While team building and sales management techniques have traditionally been face-to-face interactions, the way forward is understanding how these conservations can be scaled and performed remotely.
The salesperson that can bring empathy and understanding to the table is ultimately the one that will be able to pick up on the smaller details that can truly make all the difference.
In fact, according to HubSpot stats, a salesperson that simply asks, ‘how are you?’, is 3.4x more likely to secure that crucial sales pitch opportunity.
#2: Selling Virtually Will Become Crucial
Image from Pexels
Of course, the fundamental pillars of making sales will never change. However, the COVID pandemic has meant that our personal and professional circumstances have changed.
Social distancing and remote working has meant that salespeople have had to utilise social media and video calls to identify and close new business; something that will have to continue for the foreseeable future.
The finer details of nurturing and qualifying new prospects cannot take place face-to-face, but across messenger and through the likes of Zoom and Teams – which means that any business that wishes to push forward in the next 12 to 18 months will need to ensure their sales force is completely comfortable with this change of emphasis.
Whether selling to thousands of people through a social media video campaign or one-to-one over Zoom, mastering the skills to convert virtually will become even more important as the pandemic continues.
#3: Sales Enablement & Collaboration
The need for collaboration within a sales team has gone from an often-overlooked luxury to an absolute necessity overnight, since selling from a distance is absolutely crucial for a business looking to grow during this time.
For example, sales teams have traditionally worked separately from the marketing department; however, the times necessitate that these teams must come together to collaborate and enable each other to drive revenue almost as a single unit.
Pushing the idea of communication is no longer sufficient – sales and marketing must now be a fully integrated team in its own right. With each team now be aligned to ensure they are advancing towards the same organisational goals.
That’s not to say that you should have your marketing team jumping on video sales calls, but what it does mean is that each individual should remain focused on their own tasks, but they exist under the same umbrella to make brainstorming and collaboration a smoother process.
According to salesforce.com, 60% of sales pros believe that a collaborative sales process has increased their productivity by 25%, and more than half report that it has had a positive increase on their sales pipeline.
#4: Automation is Your Friend
Although finding the right automation software can be quite a task in itself, it’s also the very thing that could end up saving you time and money in the long run.
When you’re able to automate basic sales processes, it gives the sales team more time and space to focus on what they do best: building relationships and making sales.
#5: Ensure All Communication Creates Value
The pandemic has really narrowed down our options when it comes to traditional sales communication. At the moment going for a coffee, sitting down in the boardroom or heading out for a business lunch is off the table – this is a big problem for all salespeople, but none more so than those that prefer the old school approach.
Even before the pandemic, looking for opportunities with a wide net was never particularly useful; that hasn’t changed.
So, don’t fall into the trap of sending 1,000 messages over LinkedIn. Instead, focus your attention on a handful of prospects and tailor your messages to get the attention of those you believe with derive value in your offering.
In this day and age, we’re more connected than ever, but we’ve grown used to ignoring emails and messages that we don’t feel relevant to us. On the other hand, when something does pique our interest, it’s usually because it’s a solution that has been tailored to our needs.
This is the fine margin in which you need to be working as a salesperson, but statistics show that 53% of the reason why a prospect will choose to work with you is down to what they get from the sales experience itself.
This just goes to show how vital this fine-tuning really is.
#6: Interactivity is Crucial
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Virtual meetings and events have become commonplace and have quickly assumed the place of the in-person sales experience; this means businesses and their sales team must be able to engage with their prospects, as we talked about in point two.
Since the pandemic has changed our habits, both socially and professionally, this trend is likely to continue long after the pandemic is over.
Pre-pandemic it’d be simple enough to show a few slides, highlight relevant data on product sheets or graphs in person.
However, it’s a different ball game when you’re on the other side of a screen, where it’s imperative that you keep the attention of your prospect.
To do this, try swapping out some of the static data and ask questions of real value (like we mentioned in the previous point) to truly engage with your audience from the get-go.
Of course, this does require a little prep beforehand, but the upside is that you’re keeping the decision-makers focused and engaged in your core messages.
If you have important data, you need to showcase, then try creating something that the prospect themselves can control – this could be something as simple as letting them click through a PowerPoint presentation at the own pace to something as sophisticated as a VR experience, such as the virtual pitch deck in the image above.
Finally, pull these activities into a world that they understand rather than one which is solely focused on your products or services. Let them discover for themselves how you’re able to solve their business challenges.
This elevates the scope of what you’re offering, by increasing knowledge and enthusiasm.
#7: Ask Simple Questions
The pandemic has impacted every industry one way or another. So, why not ask your prospects how they’ve been getting on?
This not only shows that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say, but you can use this information to create customised solutions for the specific challenges facing that particular industry.
For example, if your prospect is managing a technology ecommerce store, you’ll need to find ways that your solution could help them expand their ecommerce capabilities and ultimately sell more products.
These insights can then help you put together tailored proposals and pitches for a range of ecommerce clients too.
#8: Create a Virtual Office
Image from https://www.elsevier.com/
In a typical office environment, the sales team will often occupy the same office area, which provides ample opportunities to learn from each other and feed off positive energy.
This could range from shadowing each other and sitting in on conferences to sharing techniques and bouncing new approaches off each other.
At the moment, for most sales teams, this interactively isn’t possible, which is why organisations must take the time to try and create this virtually. You can organise inter-team video calls, arrange a call shadowing schedule, or even share recordings of successful virtual sales pitches among the team.
Working in sales can often be isolating at the best of times, so it’s important that a team is encouraged to connect, share and interact with each other.
We’re now well into a new year, and all of us still have the uncertainties of the pandemic sitting on our shoulders. By considering some of the tips, we’ve outlined in the piece you can push your business forward and connect with your prospects in 2021 and beyond.
Of course, none of us knows what lays around the corner, but by placing your customers at the centre of everything you do and providing them with tangible value at every turn, you can really make your mark during and post-pandemic.
Header Image from Pexels
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