Sales is in new territory in the pandemic world. Every day we are seeing new consumer behaviour changes. However, one thing is clear. Social interaction will no longer remain the same in the near future. It might even change permanently in future. Digital channels of communication will mostly dictate the new rules of social and thus, sales engagement in a post-COVID19 world.
4 things which are going to be different in a sales man’s life post-COVID19!
- Digital conferences and events will replace in-person trade events and conferences.
- Dealer Retailer Interaction will be digital.
- B2B interactions will be more and more digital.
- Sales Face time with a prospect will be getting into many challenges –
a. Distractions – Multiscreen
b. Competition – easy access with geographical restrictions reduced
c. Well educated/informed buyers – not ready to indulge in ill-informed discussions
How does one address these challenges?
The above difficulties imply that a salesperson needs a digital transformation. We call it the new Digital – A.S.K.
The digital world demands the salesperson to have a –
- Digitally Acceptable behaviour (Etiquette)
- Digital Signature (Online Presence)
- Digital Knowledge
Let us take an in-depth look at them.
Digitally Acceptable Behaviour (Etiquette)
The salesperson in the post-COVID19 world has to follow the same courtesies that he used to follow in the physical world. They need to go a step ahead and apply them in the online domain as well. The online domain, especially social media, can give one a feeling of unfettered freedom and expression, which is misleading at best. Your digital footprints stay online for years so whatever you say online could come back to haunt you later.
Here are 𝐅𝐈𝐕𝐄 𝐬𝐮𝐠𝐠𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 for digital etiquette which are true for all but more so for the client engaging salesperson. Remember you are a public figure (Yes, a star!) and the easiest communication is done honestly and in your natural style simply.
a) Introduce yourself before sending a request to connect
This seems evident as nobody would like to entertain a stranger, but somehow when it comes to online, people forget the basics. LinkedIn is full of connection requests where the person sending the request doesn’t consider it important to drop a couple of lines about who they are and why do they want to make a connection. Whether it is the online world or the offline world, greetings and introductions are a must.
Make a draft and keep it ready. Make a few variants. Keep updating. Impromptu notes are a survival technique. Success comes from practice. Rehearse your online pitch just like you would do a F2F pitch. Using the concept of A/B testing helps – which format got me the most responses which I wanted.
b) Do not pitch a sale immediately
Many salespeople send an introductory mail or connection request which are in reality very poorly disguised sales pitches. These mails and connection requests usually end up only in one place. In the junk. Nobody likes being sold to.
Develop a relationship with your prospect and show them that you can be genuinely helpful. Without establishing any trust, you can’t hope to make a sale.
c) Don’t be pushy while following up
You visited the website of an insurance policy aggregator company once and shared few details because you wanted to know about certain loans. You are probably at stage one of your buyer’s journey and just doing research. However, the company doesn’t think so, and you’re inundated with calls trying to sell you policies. You buy a policy much later but not from that company.
There is a thin line between being persistent and pushy. Insistence is not persistence.
The best way to handle this is to have a healthy funnel! (Old hat but remains true!!)
d) Be careful with sarcasm and humour
One person’s humour is another person’s poison. Ok, so the quote doesn’t go like that but you get the idea. While everyone loves a good joke, certain jokes are best left to your private WhatsApp group. For example, jokes around ethnicities, food habits, backgrounds of people are best left at a distance.
Or better still avoid this unless it’s a personal contact!
e) Don’t post or share inappropriate material
As a salesperson, your social media accounts and your online presence should reflect the gravitas of your profession and work. While this doesn’t mean that your personal beliefs have no place here, it is best to steer away from controversial or inappropriate material which could lead to unpleasantness.
Digital Signature (footprint)
The digital signature or the digital footprint of a salesperson is a calling card that works 24/7 to communicate with its target audience. Here is what a digital signature should take care of.
Every act on social media has the potential of being viewed/reviewed by your client – Potential or Current. This can have a tremendous influence on making/breaking relations and also deals.
A great deal of sensitivity and awareness of what goes into your social media (digital footprint) is the minimum necessary.
Here are the Top three factors to take into account while creating your Digital Signature :
a) Communicate value
A salesperson’s digital presence can be a brand that prospective buyers involve with. This is one area where marketing can help to create the unique brand of a salesperson.
The online profile of a salesperson should highlight the salesperson’s area of proficiency and show how that increases the worth of their client’s business.
I still find it intriguing to see an IT consultant’s social media splattered with his photography skills!? The basic questions that come to mind are what is this person investing his time in?
Photography or IT? How can he be my IT consultant if his passion is photography?
Should I hire his services or someone whose passion for IT is evident on his
At the same time, there is a way to handle the two passions constructively and create an
impact /brand and thus create value.
Salespeople and Organisations should invest in building the brands of their client engaging
The salesperson’s profile should reflect their company’s promise, but this should be done
keeping in mind the salesperson’s specific interests and expertise.
b) Share content to amplify visibility – regularly!
According to the state of digital selling with LinkedIn 2019 report, no content is ever shared by one third of salespeople and another third do it infrequently. This is salespeople forgetting that there is a ‘social’ in ‘social media’. Sharing relevant content is equally important.
Having a thought through plan always helps.
c) Interact with others – be current and relevant!
Commenting on prospect’s content gives an opportunity to appear and engage with prospects, generate awareness among influencers and of course keep their own profile current.
Establish yourself as a thought leader – your brand!
A database of a publicly accessible knowledge base that is relevant, consistent and helpful
will show domain expertise as well as instill trust in the minds of someone who views it.
Once there is enough content that is popular and ranks consistently on search engines, it
helps to establish a business as a thought leader. All the above helps to answer questions
about a brand, increases the chances of it being found in the vastness of the web while
positioning itself as a guide and friend.
This can be an overwhelming topic. So, let’s take it in context to the need of a sales person to network, communicate and most importantly do business development activity.
Answer a few questions irrespective of whether you are a frontline salesperson/team lead / sales leadership.
Do you know how to approach a cold prospect on LinkedIn? Is Facebook only a B2C lead generation platform? Do you know how the sales navigator on LinkedIn works? How are you identifying and networking with the influencers of your industry? Is your content personalised for your prospect? Are you proficient in the use of sales software? – CRM/Data Representation/Collaboration tools?
These will be the basics of the new normal. In a post-COVID world, a sales representative should also be one who is comfortable with digital tools, can extract insights from the data presented by such tools and can use those insights to reach customers.
Many would respond with a “yea, I know”. My view here is that it is one thing to know by tinkering around and a completely different ball game to know it correctly. Getting to do relevant courses, getting certified and then keeping one updated continuously is a much more recommended approach.
A survey of 1000 US and European sales executives by consultancy firm McKinsey, revealed that fast-growing companies successfully connect the front end and back end creating a dynamic experience for customers. The front-end is the sales operations and the back-end is the customer experience. Data and analytics offer deep insights about customers and the customer life cycle.
For example, sales representatives can understand customer behaviour taking advantage of the algorithms of digital programs. Are you skilled to do this? The data will be available in most cases.
Similarly, sales planning tools can match accounts to sales representatives using data and analytics. This helps a sales representative to handle a story in a domain where he has prior experience. This has a tremendous impact on Productivity and Customer experience – As a leader, are you enabling this?
The knowledge of all the above such as customer behaviour and digital data tools should be present in the armoury of every salesperson and sales organisation.
It would make immense sense to start your Learning from today (invest – get certified).
Times are tough and people could do with some genuine support and comfort. More than ever, now is the time when sales can become a force of positivity in a society that is confused and afraid. And it not because you’re going to make a sale. As the great American salesman, Zig Ziglar put it “Stop selling. Start helping”.
And once again, keep in mind:
The PIL to fulfill the ASK for the Successful Salesperson:
- Practising (work to make it as easy as a F2F conversation)– Digitally Acceptable Behaviour
- Implement a relevant Footprint (plan and then execute) – Digital Signature
3. Learning starts from today (invest – get certified) – Digital Knowledge