Many wise businesses have changed their sales strategies given that their prospective customers have turned virtual due to the ongoing pandemic. It will be fatal to do business the way it used to be done in the pre-COVID phase i.e. face-to-face. So, a strategic change in marketing and sales plans is the need of the hour during the new normal. Hence, Designhill conducted a webinar with industry experts showing how to revisit and recreate your sales strategies for the virtual world. Have a look!
Now that the entire world is interacting and engaging virtually because of the pandemic, the business world is devising new strategies to retain its customers. The crisis started last year and continues to be almost the same worse in 2021. So, no business can survive today by operating under the old and conventional rules of interaction and engagement.
The biggest challenge before most businesses is to drive customers’ attention using social media and other platforms online. This is surely a hard task as you can no more impress customers talking to them in person. The times of meetings in offices and restaurants are over. Moreover, nobody knows when this crisis is going to finally end.
Considering that, Designhill, the leading creative marketplace, sought the opinion of experts on how to proceed in formulating sales strategies for these times. The marketplace invited experts to share their views. The topic of the webinar was – Predictions And Tips For 2021 That Will Change Your Sales Strategy. The experts were Andy Paul, Anita Neilson, Cynthia Barns, Ian Moyse, and Tibor Shanto.
- Tips on creating a reliable sales pipeline – focus on the critical sales activities necessary to bring in the new customers you need.
- Learn what motivates a customer to buy? Map out a scalable sales process that aligns with how customers want to buy?
- Learn how to create an effective sales pitch that converts clients and customers into buyers. How to convert leads to sales and create a winning sales funnel?
- How customer-centricity will propel brands forward by creating customer personas?
- Tips to build an effective marketing strategy that saves time improves customer experience and drive sales.
- Discuss indispensable sales technology tools for professionals in 2021.
- Tips to develop the emotional engagement that encourages your customers to purchase
- Learn how marketers will plan asynchronous prospecting tactics that build the top of your funnel.
- Identify areas of improvement, focus, strength and continuation
- Learn pro tips for qualifying, negotiating, managing and closing deals.
Know Your Panelists:
Andy Paul is the host of theSales Enablement Podcast and is known to hold the Best Conversations in Sales on his podcast, with 850+ episodes so far. He is also the author of award-winning sales books, ‘Zero-Time Selling and Amp Up Your Sales’. Also, he has consulted with some of the biggest businesses in the world including Square, Philips, Grubhub, and more.
Anita Nielsen is a sales enablement consultant and performance coach and is President, LDK Advisory Services. She also serves on the Advisory Board for the National Association of Women Sales Professionals. Also, she is the bestselling author of Beat the Bots: How Your Humanity Can Future-Proof Your Tech Sales Career and the President of LDK Advisory Services, LLC.
The founder of theNational Association of Women Sales Professionals, Cynthia Barns is a LinkedIn Top Sales Influencer. She lives by one motto: “I’m in it to Win It!”. She is amongst the top 1% of corporate producers and sales leaders. Helping women entrepreneurs by giving them training, she is also the author of ‘Reach the Top 1%: A Strategic Game Plan for Warrior Women in Sales’.
Ian Moyse is the Chief Revenue Officer,One Up Sales, and he is also an industry cloud social influencer. He was rated #1 cloud influencer by Onalytica. Ian has been passionate about computing for 14yrs, falling into sales at 20. He is passionate about issues related to sales and customer expectations.
Tibor Shanto is known as a brilliant sales tactician. He has trained big companies including Imperial Oil, Bell Canada, and Business Development Bank. His Proactive Prospecting Program has been accredited by the Canadian Professional Sales Association. He is also the Sales Hall Of Fame Inductee and Co-author of the award-winning book Shift: Harness The Trigger Events That Turn Prospects Into Customers.
In this post, we have shared the session’s video and transcript in the form of Q/As so that you can learn everything about the latest sales strategies to run your business during the pandemic times.
Transcript (Q/A): Here Is What You Need To Know About Changing Your Sales Strategy For 2021
Designhill: How do you think the companies and sales professionals will transition from a conventional sales process to a virtual one?
Dependency on existing customers
Anita Neilson: I think there will be mainly initially, not new customers, but existing customers. Sales professionals are likely going to be able to reach out to existing customers. They already have a relationship, and then go back to meeting face to face. Then, ease into new prospects. I think there will be a lot of hesitation on the part of prospects for having face to face meetings.
So, there is going to be a transition there. I don’t think that we ever go back to as much face-to-face as we had. In the pre-pandemic, it was tough to get salespeople on video, and now they all are on video. It is like, should I drive two hours to meet that customer? Can I do it virtually? So I think both parties are going to want to take advantage of virtual when it’s possible.
Face-to-Face will be back
Tibor Shanto: I tend to look at things from the prospecting view, which has always been virtual. So, I sort of don’t maximize what all the noise is about. Although, I do think that there will be some differences. There will be some industries that are already moving towards more of a hybrid or a virtual type of sale. There are some businesses and I have clients who probably seal the deal at dinner than at the formal meetings.
When you get into a more involved sale, there is a necessity for that human interaction. So, I think there will be some that were naturally headed in that direction anyway doesn’t. That is a lower type of thing that can be easily handled through e-commerce. But I would suspect anywhere where people like to use that word, relationship, you’re going to have to go back to face to face.
Virtual selling was already happening
Andy Paul: I think people have sort of overestimated how much face-to-face selling was taking place pre-pandemic. Even if somebody wasn’t in a field sales role, or anomaly field, meaning they would travel to see customers occasionally. What would that be? Maybe 10% of their interactions with the buyers would be face to face. As long as I have been in sales that maximizes. I still like to say this virtual selling started when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Virtual selling doesn’t mean video, it means you’re just not there face to face. So, telephone selling is virtual selling.
So, what we do is virtual and has been virtual. Most of the face to face meetings have now gone away. People should just keep in mind that the vast majority of our sales interactions were virtual already.
Video now acceptable to people
Ian Moyse: I am seeing more of a customer’s face. I probably was before because a lot of it is a phone. What I find now is people are more receptive to video. I think it’s becoming more personal. We’re in the homes. When have you ever been to a customer’s home? We see their kids run in and you get a conversation about something personal that you wouldn’t have done before. When you build rapport that would never have happened to you previously.
How many times did you go into their office and see their kid’s photo and discuss it? But now when the kids are seen around you say oh that’s my little house. It naturally drags you into a conversation of stuff that you wouldn’t have before.
Designhill: What is the most important thing to focus on in the world we live in and execute? What is the most important thing to focus on and execute?
Relation building process matters
Cynthia Barnes: I think the relationship-building process is huge. In the sales process, it is important to know your prospects as well as your best friend. A lot of people have gotten away from I think the relationship-building components of prospecting. And I think we need to focus on that.
There is a strategy called the Mackay 66 chart by Charles Mackay. The chart says there are 66 things that you should know about your prospect before your competition does. When you do those 66 things you’re able to develop rapport. Then you are like in their homes, you know things about them, and you can anticipate their wants and needs.
I think that as we develop a sales process, that is virtual, or in person, we must build a strong relationship. You’ll get to the point where your prospects say I want to be your customer. I don’t care what I have to pay, and I trust you because I know, you just get it done. And that’s what we want.
Designhill: How should one identify the best-pitted accounts for their businesses and discard the rest?
Look for the persona of a marketer
Ian Moyse: When I interview marketing people, I ask them what is their persona, and do they even understand what that means? Who is not just at a customer level, but an individual level? And number one is to understand who is your target universe? How can you narrow that down? For me, I always look as a sales leader. What’s the lowest hanging fruit? Who is the ideal customer? And does that give me enough of a target universe to go after to achieve the revenue goals that we have?
Have the ability to align sales and marketing
Secondly, I think he is getting sales and marketing aligned. We may talk about that another piece here. But I was on a call the other evening with several sales leaders and talking about that whole piece. Are our sales more too often? I’m doing this recruiting a marketeer at the moment, and I’m talking about wanting the right leads, I don’t just want that. Instead, I want marketing to come in, and I want you to generate lots of the right leads that fit the profile. That will maximize the conversion rate.
I think too often there is a conflict between sales asking for lots of leads, marketing delivers lots of leads, and volume of leads. You get your salespeople to complain about the quality of leadership and the conversion rate. Marketing then gets on the net about what we did and what you asked us to do. But it should be in total alignment. What is it you’re trying to get that should be aligned with how I might as a sales leader reduce the number of leads that marketing needs to give me not maximize? How do I help them?
Give me the right and fewer leads, so that it increases the hit rate and leads, not suspects. When people say that is the lead but the question is what makes that a lead. Because that means that somebody meets all the criteria that I could sell to them, and they fit the profile. How many times I said no, it’s a suspect. But I’ve just qualified out in five seconds. So, how much time are we wasting?
So, I think down to what he’s agreeing on the right language that defines what things are. And then agreeing to maximize the basic facts and getting it right. It’s not rocket science, but too many people are just getting all that stuff wrong.
Message and media are crucial
Cynthia Barnes: There is a formula in marketing called M times M equals R. In any algebraic equation, if anything is set to zero, the whole thing is a bust. So, your first M is your message. What do you say to your target market to get them to stop the scroll?
Your second M is your media where you put that highly targeted message. And M times M equals R is your results. So, you could have the best graphic design team creating the best graphics. But if your message doesn’t get them to stop the scroll, then your results are going to be zero.
To get them to stop the scroll is if you know your target market with granularity and specificity. The only way that you can do that is to know the demographics and the psychographics. Know who they are, why they buy. If you don’t have that in alignment, and if you don’t talk to marketing, then all of the suspects that you give to the sales department are going to be busted.
Focus on the larger market segment
Tibor Shanto: I would suggest that it applies to sort of a small end of the market. And that is the actively looking prospect. This is because the people who are doing the scrolling, address that keyboard on their own, there was nothing that anybody did to prompt them to come there.
I tend to focus more on the larger group of the market segment, which is the status quo. That is because my goal is to get with them early and not so much. As I mentioned, I’m not a relationship guy, but I want to be their emotional favorite. I want to be their go-to. So, when borrowing from marketing, I spend a lot of time with them during the awareness and consideration stage. When they switch gears into the decision, I can get them.
A lot of discussions that I am hearing here and elsewhere, focus on those active buyers where they’re interacting with your social media, Google, and so on. That’s great. But that is where everybody goes. And it becomes the question of where do you discount? How do you discount? And I think there’s a question around that.
But, I should get somebody before they even think about the things, which are pains and needs and problems. And I can address them on where they’re trying to go. As they move towards the purchase, I’ll have them. So those will be in my sales pipeline. Statistically, I don’t worry about it from the same degree of conversion. That is because as long as they continue to interact with me and give me the next steps, in a sense, that small bit of conversion. So, I think it’s great to have this discussion, but you’re missing about 90% of the market.
Designhill: How should companies prepare for adapting to this new normal of pandemic and adapt fast?
Be Flexible and Adaptable
Cynthia Barnes: If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we must be flexible, adaptable, and learn to pivot in any situation. So, you have to learn how to be adaptable. And being adaptable also means that you learn to anticipate trends. You will learn to anticipate behaviors. I can’t stress enough if you know your target market. Tap into your target market and their psychographics. If you do that, you can then listen to them and know where to go. You can know which LinkedIn groups to go to and listen to what they’re talking about.
You have conversations with customers and prospects. You can become more adaptable and flexible, and anticipate what their needs are going to have to become the rock star, so to speak, because you’ve now said, Oh, I know where you’re going, Mister or Miss prospect, and I can help you get there.
Andy Paul: Most predictions of an economic boom are coming right. In 2020, surprisingly, despite the pandemic, that was also one of the biggest years for new enterprise formation in the United States. So, there’s been a tremendous amount of new business, activity, insurance, business formation, hopefully, that will lead to growth.
I think our prospects are going to be confronted with more noise than ever coming from so many more sources. And so I think that will be a big challenge in the next couple of years. I think it is related to how you go out and try to prospect and develop new business. If you are just going to be waiting inbound, then that will be a little problematic for you. That is unless you’re also supplemented with some proactive outbound that’s targeting the right accounts.
Ian Moyse: I take the phrase change and change again. This is not a one-time change and pivot that we’ve just seen. This means you now need to be more adaptable than ever. And I think we’re seeing that in sales. With the emergence of lots of news, I think that one place at spend is going on right is sales enablement technology.
It’s going through the roof because people are trying to figure out how to pivot? How do they change their behavior? How do they interact with the customer and engage with them in a continually smarter way? And I don’t think that’s going to go away. I think people are seeing this as a one-time event.
People are changing the environment, we work in change, and technology is changing. So I think it is about change and change again. You have got to become adaptable and not think you’ve made one big change. And that’s it for the next five years.
Tibor Shanto: Every day is a new normal. Before we had COVID, everybody was praising the disruptors. That is because they were trying to, so if we go back to it I forget how to pronounce the name of the fellow’s name who racked rubies, or what have you, you know, the only constant changes. So, salespeople should be at the tip of that. I don’t know why we spend so much time talking about change, you should be driving.
Designhill: Should you lower the price of your product to retain that customer?
It is all about value selling
Anita Neilson: I think this goes to the idea of value selling. And, I don’t think customers were cash cows before and are poor now. I think they are wary. And what a sales professional should be doing is understanding what’s making them wary? What is it that they’re looking for? Where is that challenge? Where is that pain and you know, value is in the eye of that customer?
So, the salesperson has to be able to get to what value means specifically to that person. Once you have that, the chances of them buying at your prices are higher. That is not just because of trust and rapport. Instead, that is because you’ve targeted not just that company but that human that you’re selling to. I think that makes a big difference.
You have to understand what’s going to make them comfortable and safe. How does this benefit them? And it’s true, though, you have to focus on the customer satisfaction.
People are assessing the trends
Tibor Shanto: There is probably going to be a budget and a boom. Hopefully, it won’t be followed by depression, like it did last century. So, I think there will be a budget and there will be spending.
People are assessing some of the trends and anticipating where those trends will go in the next four or five years. But the other side of everything has two sides. So, rather than lowering the price, why not just increase the value? And I think if you have clear definitions of value based on experiences, it’s not easy. But that’s what salespeople get paid for is to build the value side as opposed to just holding the line on discounts.
Think of outcome
Ian Moyse: I think fundamentally, we are talking about the product. Instead, we should be talking about outcomes. So people don’t buy a product, they buy the outcome that it gives them. If the outcome is good enough, I don’t care if they have got a budget, they’ll find one. Budget gets created. I think you were talking about being bored only about creating the need if you create the need with the value. People create projects, they create value, they create a budget.
Andy Paul: Yeah, It has been that way. 10 years ago a study found out that in business only 20% of their major purchases were budgeted at the beginning of the year. I mean, they have budgets set aside, but they don’t have it specifically designated for specific projects. So, people come in, find and justify the need, find the value and the outcome. Then, they find a budget for it.
Tibor Shanto: And what they do have at the beginning of the year is objectives. If you are going to align with those objectives and drive them, a 100% budget is created. If I had $1, for every VP that said they have no budget that subsequently wrote me a check, I probably could work out a lot less.
Ian Moyse: One of the fundamentals that annoy me is we get these sales processes which you’ve got to find the budget. What’s your budget? What are you having? So that says you only talk to a customer when they’re buying to your point? I talked about not buying anything now I don’t care. I’m not trying to sell you anything. I want a conversation to understand things. I might sell you something in two years, but you only talk to people when you’re buying when it’s a conversation happening there.
Nurture the relationship
Anita Nelson: I think it’s like constantly maintaining and nurturing that relationship. Even if there is no budget, know early on to what extent you need to engage with this prospect? If someone’s buying, then get a lot more focused and bring in your technical resources.
If it is somebody who has stated clearly that they are not going to buy, you pace yourself on how you show that value. And I think you have to lean a lot more on that trust and that rapport. That is because that’s what’s going to help them see that they need something. Then, they will find the budget.
I believe that if you need something valuable enough, you find the budget. So, it’s on the salesperson to have the right conversations to help them see the undoubted value. Then they’ll find the money.
Andy Paul: But I think there is something more fundamental to that. Your sales these days tend to be a little more transaction-oriented. That is as opposed to my job that I’m trying to build a network of people over time, and yet could potentially become customers. I am investing for today, I’m tomorrow, and for two years. And from that perspective, it seems to be lacking more and more in the sales forces. Today, we’re getting more and more transactional,
Designhill: What are the possible bottlenecks that could cause breakage or frustration for your customers, or salespeople and how to handle it?
Avoid promoting too much
Cynthia Barnes: I think the number one mistake that people make with social selling is to promote too much. And there has to be a good mix of 1/3 promotion, 1/3 inspiration, and then 1/3 of education and information. At NAWSP, we had to bootstrap our efforts in the beginning because we didn’t have VC backing. It was how we positioned ourselves as the obvious choice.
In doing that we should be answering those eight fundamental questions about who is NAWSP? Do I have trouble trying, if I’m a woman to get to the top 1%? We are answering those questions we’re educating, we’re informing them. Occasionally we will promote in NAWSP is offering this webinar or this promotion. However, we engage with our target market so that when they are ready to join an association and reach the top 1%. In this way, NAWSP is the obvious choice.
Constantly educate your customers
The secret to our success is constantly posting every single day. That is being topped off our mind getting connections, engaging with people. Then, when companies like Google, Oracle, and Adobe, say they want to tap into the market of women sales professionals, they go to NAWSP. That is because we’ve taught them how to get to the top 1%. And we have also taught our sponsors that here’s how you recruit and retain the top 1%.
Create value while promoting
Anita Nelson: Even when you are doing promotion, you are creating value at that moment. So, you are in there saying not just oh, do this, come sign in register. Instead, tell us that these are the three points that we need to create going to be talking about if you can’t join the live register.
It is not just shamelessly promoting, it’s more focused on your target audience. It is about what value they are going to gain and what challenges they are going to find answers to. That is the difference between promoting for the promotion’s sake and promoting to help address customers’ needs. And that makes all the difference in the world.
Differentiate yourself from your brand
Andy Paul: For individual salespeople, this ability to differentiate yourself and build your brand online is becoming increasingly paramount. The RAIN group did a study where they talked about the surveyed panel. A couple of 1000 buyers, 82% of buyers look up the seller on LinkedIn before they speak with them for the first time. So, this is crucial to get that right.
If you are just purely pitching, and someone looks at your history you’re not going to stand out. So, ensure a mix of education, going forward, using social media, and building your network. Then, you have a better chance of standing out.
Ian Moyse: In the old world, you used to run from one meeting room to another. They checked you beforehand. But today I’ve got a screen here, and I can look you up while we are talking. So it is more likely to happen today than ever before.
Be a listener on social media
The other mistake people are making in this social selling is that they are talking more than understanding. On social media, how many people listen and understand. I get people trying to sell me social selling training. Day in and day out. And the fact they haven’t read and looked at my profile and the content that I’ve shared and what I do. They do not know that I’m not a customer of their social selling training. It shows that you don’t do social selling because you haven’t done the listening first.
Designhill: How do the businesses not present on the internet cope up with this entirely alien thing?
Have a website
Andy Paul: You are a small business, and that’s the case is there are lots of very easy-to-use resources to build a website just to start a web presence.
Tibor Shanto: I think the most successful businesses align their sort of brick-and-mortar presence in reality with their online stuff. So, it needs to be more consistent than most people think.
Optimize your web pages
Cynthia Barnes: We use the internet strictly to provide enough information to make you say, I want to learn more. It lends credibility when we have an internet presence. We make sure that our LinkedIn pages are SEO optimized because Yahoo Bing and Google crawl LinkedIn profiles. So, chances are that your LinkedIn profile will pop up before a company’s page does.
Therefore, we make sure that the About section of the website is fully SEO optimized. Our headlines and experience sections are SEO optimized so that people can get enough information. They can say that they want to learn more after seeing your site. And then on our company’s page, there’s a section like to learn more on a call with one of us.
We can’t negate the fact that the selling process is done person to person. And, we never want to say that you can just go ahead and buy from the web. That’s not what it’s for. It’s a gateway to get in touch with a live person. You can’t take the human aspect.
You can’t take the human aspect out of the selling process. People buy from people they know and trust. I would never go to a platform and say I want to design without actually talking with the designer.
Know who are your buyers
Anita Nelson: Your presence on the internet is there to get people to understand a little bit better about you. People can learn about your brand. But ultimately they want to engage with you. I have been saying that business-to-business sales are human to human sales. A business, a corporation, a building can’t buy from a building, it just doesn’t make sense.
But you are speaking with one or more buyers. Who are your buyers? Are they going to get to you based on what they’re seeing about you on the internet? And then once they do, reach out to them. They truly understand what their need is. And I think sometimes it gets lost that, so many things can be done transitionally on the web, and that’s true.
Guide your customers
But when you are talking about major purchases, you do require that guidance. Your customers need it, even if they don’t think they need it, by the way, and they’re online to chat, etc. Find a way to call them, right and get them engaged in that conversation. Because they may not even know what they don’t know. You may be able to give them insight.
So, technology is incredible. But, technology is only as good as the people who wield it. If I am a company, and I have got a presence out there, what good is it doing to me if I’m not able to serve my customers? It is a means to an end.
It is all about conversations
Ian Moyse: It is about conversations. And it’s about the personal brand. When I get salespeople to come to me, I’ve watched sales, people’s behavior. Now talk about the company name, which I’m going to try to sell to these, I’ve got this opportunity. And the first thing I go, What are you talking to grey, and then they’re going to tell me, and I’ve had a good conversation and they want to move on. It’s like slowing down.
And anyone that has worked for me will recognize this, the first thing I do is say, stop, give me the names. I want to look up the people that you are talking to. Then understand the people who are going to make the decisions or influence his decisions. Who are they? Do I know someone who’s connected to them? So, you may find that they used to go to the same school or college or whatever it is. It’s the human that makes signing that order at some point, not a machine.
So all that other stuff you’re telling me is great, but slow down. Who is the person? Oh, it’s John smith. They’re off, they go. No, no, no, wait, I haven’t looked him up yet which john smith, and how much engagement have you had? And then the other piece I add into that is what engagement Have you had? Is it a call persuasion or communication and anyone that’s listed on anything, we’re here, this is one of my bugbears.
Communication is not the conversation
Communication is different from a conversation. An email, or WhatsApp, or whatever is a communication. It has its place. But there is a difference in saying that I spoke with them and heard their reaction and that tone, etc. and I think we’re losing. In this remote world, one of the big things I am seeing is that too many people are missing the conversation and going the lazy route.
Ian Moyse: This is what I do when I get a salesperson. I’ve said this to others, but they say, oh, yeah, I chatted to them. When you say chatted, what do you mean? We exchanged emails. I always encourage everyone to ask that question. Don’t assume that’s what salespeople do. You’re known as a squad leader when they ask that question what they mean by it, and often you’re gonna find it was a communication. Now you need to think about, well, what did you get from that communication? It wasn’t a conversation.
Designhill: How should companies optimize coordination within the team and the prospects for pitching straightforward solutions without being too pushy?
Coordination is the key
Tibor Shanto: I look at the relationship between marketing and sales. Marketing is providing air cover for the ground troops, that is sales. If you look at that one slight mistake and you know, end up in friendly fire as it were. So I think coordination and constant communication have to take place.
Companies can do a better job to get salespeople to hold up their end of the bargain. This is about the continuous effort to try and get salespeople to take the conversation recorded in the CRM. So, marketing can understand what the market is thinking in real-time or near real-time. Much like the military, there has to be one commander, there has to be a strategy and a tactical plan to execute that strategy. Then, there has to be coordination between all the people that are going to have contact with the customer.
Customer success doesn’t come into the process until after the signature. In the old days before apps, we used to introduce the customer support team around the time of the proposal. So, the customer can get comfortable with what we are going to deliver. There is no need to not call the salesperson for every little thing and let the salespeople sell and the professionals look after success.
Andy Paul: I think successful companies bring customer success early.
Unified revenue operations
Andy Paul: One of the major trends in sales organizations is unified revenue operations. You get sales and marketing reported to the same leader. And then everybody is being tasked with the same goal. Everything is being aligned around revenue in a much more comprehensive way than it has been before.
Everybody sort of operates from the same source of truth in terms of how they look at the marketplace. That may not apply to the audience today. But rather than keeping sales and marketing separated into silos, unify them. You should unify them in a way that makes sense organizationally. Also, you should have politics that affects it because people don’t want to give up power. I should be looking at revenue from a different lens these days.
Marketing and Sales should coordinate
Anita Neilson: A phenomenon is that it works well when marketing and salespeople want to understand their role in terms of messaging and communication. For example, marketing is talking about the big story of the company, its direction, and products. It is salespeople’s job to contextualize all of that. So, you need both of them.
But, sometimes marketing doesn’t understand that the salesperson is taking that story and making it a customer story. Then we have a challenge because sometimes messaging will come down from marketing. You think this is not gonna apply to my customers. I have seen that a lot of the contention that I see between sales and marketing comes from everyone’s point. Now, if they are more in the same organization for revenue. It helps alleviate your role and be comfortable about what the other person’s doing.
Know how salespeople function
Ian Moyse: What is wrong with getting marketing? Just give marketing visibility of what salespeople do in front of the customer and opening their eyes. Because that’s the problem is not that they are doing stuff wrong on purpose. But often they have no visibility of what’s wrong.
They get someone telling them and give them context. You know, why can’t they speak to a customer? Why can’t they be involved? I think what have you said about recorded calls. Well, how often we have come out with demos for a customer because it’s of value to them. I say, do you mind if I record this? Because I can send it to you and you can show colleagues. Well, that’s great, because now I can show that to others, you can see the whole interaction in this video world. I learned from that, oh, I didn’t realize that’s how they reacted or this is what they saw. But it’s highly valuable. We’ve got the tools to do it.
Andy Paul: There are platforms like Ring DNA where you can record calls or conversational intelligence. Then, you can need your marketing needs to invest time to listen to those calls because they are there. You can use the analytic engine to search for keywords. Then, pull out clips that are relevant to what you want to learn about how it’s never been easier for marketing. If organizations invest in the right tools, then it has never been easier to do marketing. It is now much easier to understand and hear the voice of the customer daily.
The sales team needs to better understand what marketing is up to as well. How do those tools help them? Or, ultimately, what tools are they using and their relationship? At the end of the day, you have to get that alignment between sales and marketing right. And when there’s trust, then there’s no issue with bringing a marketing person on a ride-along. Or, even just letting them listen to the calls. But most companies just don’t even have that level of trust.
Again, that alignment within an organization and not siloed sales and marketing. I think that goes a long way to that. That’s because the objectives aren’t aligned.
Designhill: How does one get creative in sales?
Listen to your customers
I think creativity comes from listening to the voice of the customers, finding out what exactly they want. You can’t create a pitch and a presentation without knowing what your ideal customer wants from your service. So the creativity comes from listening. You can’t create anything without listening. And it’s like walking in the door backward.
When you create something, it’s like creating a company. I have this widget and I want the widget to sell. Maybe you have not listened to your customer, ideal prospect, or ideal buyer. Then, you will create a widget that no one will buy.
Ask quality questions
What precedes me listening is a quality question. And I agree with your point, Cynthia, that has to be the focus of the salespeople. And I look at sales as sort of being like a game of Jeopardy, you know the answer you want. Come up with the right question because they give you the answer at the beginning.
So, I think the first sales book that everybody should go out and buy, is the 10 day MBA. Because salespeople don’t know how to talk to business people. They don’t know what sort of things they think about and how they process decisions. And therefore, most of the things that the average salesperson says are foreign to most. It is Greek to most company leaders.
If they bought the 10-day MBA, they can understand the kind of process that they are thinking about. Then they begin to align everything that has been said earlier in terms of messaging. What that individual is thinking about in context to the nearest point of the broader decision and the broader purchase that’s being made. So, I think listening is great. But if you are not asking the right question, it’s a lot of music that’s coming back.
Understand your customer
Andy Paul: I will take a spin on that, though. The most important thing that people have to get right is understanding. And so the follow-on to listening is understanding. And what we do is we’re trained sellers to go in a little bit to your point. They come in expecting a certain answer to a question. Therefore, they sort of suspend their curiosity. Also, they don’t pursue beyond the first question to understand the buyer. They do not want to understand the magnitude of the problem and the outcomes they’re trying to achieve.
We started almost to train this understanding out of a generation of sellers, and we need to bring it back in. You have to ask the impact questions and listen. But then you need to make sure you understand before you move on. Most of us learned and developed our business acumen by asking questions of buyers.
So he understood exactly what it was they’re trying to achieve or what the problems were. And based on that, that’s how we got smart. And that’s how we developed our act. Sellers should read this book 10 days MBA as a reference. But if you want to develop your acumen, it’s all based on understanding and that’s in your hands.
Get information from customers
Anita Nelson: The questions should also allow you to get information from the customer that may be an average salesperson wouldn’t get. High-impact questions will let the emotion seep into the conversation. So if you ask someone a bigger question, you’ll hear about the company’s politics and how well they are doing. Emotion drives the buying decision, ultimately. You must understand the emotional drivers as well as that business aspect of it.
Designhill: What would you advise first-time entrepreneurs today?
Andy Paul: I started my company back in the recession of 2000, during the tech bubble burst, I was trying to sell my services to tech companies. And it was a matter of getting very precise about what problem I could solve. So, instead of being very broad-based, I had to become much more niche-focused. That was in terms of the types of companies that I was going to talk to and the types of services I can provide. It is sort of counterintuitive because you think that you need to be more flexible, more adaptable, and more broad-based when times are a little uncertain.
But I believe it is the opposite, which is that you only get more focus. So focus on what are the types of companies best suited for the types of services you can provide? What specifically are the problems that you can solve, and the outcomes you can help them achieve and just be as narrowly focused as possible?
Shrink the territory
Tibor Shanto: Some of the most successful companies, at the start of the year, shrink the territory. They create that focus with a salesperson. So, they do not need to aspire towards the friend to understand and communicate with that segment of the market.
Get into the business early
Cynthia Barnes: Think early is the best advice I got early in my business. I think it transcends all types of environments. And I can’t specify the sum or stress this enough to get crystal clear on who your ideal customer is. Because if you try to market to everyone, you will get no one. I would prefer three highly qualified and ready to engage prospects than to have 300 people that I have to qualify. You create messaging that attracts the right prospect and repels the wrong prospect. That’s when the magic happens.
Ian Moyse: I think people just keep going no matter what the tenacity is a valuable asset. But sometimes letting go of something or stop doing something is hard. Because we have all chased a prospect where we have invested so much time and effort. You have already buried yourself a little bit more when you keep going to the end now.
Because I cannot draw the line. Sometimes people tell you to be prepared, but sometimes they tell you to stop and walk away. You can’t keep doing everything. I think that’s a valuable one. It’s the hard one to handle yourself. Sometimes you need someone else to tell you that and to listen, that would be my advice.
Look for real opportunities
Tibor Shanto: But I think we set people up for that because we keep telling them to qualify. And you know, human beings tend to find what they set out to look for. So I think that can easily be resolved if we told them to go out and disqualify all the garbage. And what’s left is the workable stuff. That they think their manager wants him to come back with qualified opportunities, as opposed to real opportunities.
Be an expert in your field of business
Cynthia Barnes: As business owners, we need to create ourselves as subject matter experts. We should be that thought leader, as someone so valuable that people have to come to us to get it. That prevents a lot of that chasing. What happens if you were to take the position and create content that shows them that you are the one to be chased and so valuable?
It’s like in the safari where there’s only one watering hole for miles, all the animals have to come to that watering hole. So what if you were the water? I tell members, the water is something or someone so valuable that people have to seek you out. Then, provide that value that they’re looking for.
Ask questions to know customers
Anita Neilson: I think one of the things that have come through time and again, is this idea of value. You can’t create personalized value unless you ask the questions that help you understand the logic and the emotion that the customer has. That will drive the buying decision.
And so once you know what they need, now you create a personalized value proposition for that individual. Then, you can get them to make that buying decision in your favor. It has to matter to them, and the company. You have to be crystal clear on how you deliver that message.
So, these are the key things you must be aware of while trying your best to increase sales in the present pandemic crisis. These basics will surely help you make your sales strategy that is in sync with the present hard times.
But make sure that you do not ignore your visual identities such as your logo, business card, website, brochure, etc. They all should be impressive to make a lasting memorable impact on the potential customers.
For that, you can outsource all of your visual identity design work to Designhill, the leading creative marketplace. Launch your design contest with your brief at this marketplace right now and get your winning design in a short period from talented designers from across the globe.
The pandemic lingers on and makes business conditions worse than ever before. Today, when the virtual world is the only option left for businesses, experts say that you still need to interact and engage your customers. Use of social media, optimization of your business profile, educating and guiding your customers are the keys for sales growth.