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5 Ways to Prepare the Workforce for the Future of Selling

A new era in selling has dawned. And it’s here before we are fully prepared for it. Selling on call was difficult but selling virtually is more of an uphill task. How can you hold your prospective client’s attention? What if he’s busy on his cell phone or working on another screen when you’re making your star point?

Making compelling sales presentations, going past the first few words of a cold call, establishing trust seem like something only expert, experienced sales persons can do. But what many experts don’t acknowledge often enough is that they are most definitely not born with the prodigal talent to sell, rather it is something that is acquired with practicing the right tools and techniques over and over.

Remote selling is here to stay. A Mckinsey research shows that 96% B2B companies have shifted their Go-to-Market model during COVID19. 79% companies have acknowledged the likelihood of sustaining these shifts 12+ months after the lockdown is lifted.

What does it take to be successful in remote selling? What are the trends likely to shape selling in the future?

Businesses all across the world have tightened their purse strings in light of the pandemic. Just by April 2020 itself, close to 55% companies globally had reported a reduction in the overall budgets. As sales teams attempt to sell their existing stocks or create demand for their new COVID-centric products, they are confronting the harsh reality of tough negotiations and fizzled out purchase orders.

Strategic and consultative selling has become the need of the hour in order to keep the organizational wheels well-oiled. But how do you instil a consultative mindset in teams that value aggression more than empathy? The answer lies in a well-crafted recipe with the main ingredients being process, technology and training.   

A few things to bear in mind as you prepare your sales team for the future of work are:

  • The infrastructure should be as well prepared as the team

The key to be successful in virtual selling is having the right infrastructure and tools for your team. This would be a mix of collaborative tools, well integrated CRMs, clear performance metrics and a good communication strategy. The idea is to enable the sales function as effectively as possible to do its job – keep the cash flow going.

  • Processes must be robust yet people-centric

When mere talent can’t be relied upon to do the job consistently, a water-tight sales process becomes a lighthouse for the sales team. In remote work especially, it will become a crucial thread binding the dispersed salesforce. A good sales process is one that is easy to monitor, leaves enough room for individual creativity and learns from the team just as much as the team relies upon it.

  • Free flow of Information

In a remote work setup, free flow of critical communication becomes important for the sales team’s success. When the managers can reach right till the edge of the team, they can convey fast, inclusive and transparent communication not just within the team but also to stakeholders across the organization. For this to be done, it is important that the right kind of communication technology and network is established. A free flow of information must be a clearly defined expectation for managers and leaders must work to enable the same throughout the organization

  • Make friends with data

By now, every seasoned leader is looking at how to leverage data to make better decisions. Data can be used to sell better virtually too. It can help the salespeople identify and reach warm leads faster, understand customer preferences and thereafter explore more innovative ways to communicate value to the customers. Another way data greatly helps in remote selling is to track and measure the performance of the team and give enough information to managers to utilize as a base for coaching their team members.

  • Training to be effective in remote selling

Selling virtually is not as simple as delivering a presentation on Zoom. As sales teams are slowly realizing, making a ‘wow’ impact on client virtually is much harder than it seems. The sales professional needs to make use of a combination of techniques to facilitate a consultative discussion, engage the clients in a meaningful way and make use of technology to deliver the value proposition. This requires on-the-job training on presentation techniques, communication skills and technological tools.

Selling in a data driven world has become both exciting and exhausting. It has evolved into a nuanced, personalized process that is more customer centric than ever. Customers are much more educated about your brand credibility due to all the social touchpoints and come into a meeting much more informed and opinionated mindset. The value of convenience, customization and clear communication has only increased in the virtual world and these are the things shaping the trends in virtual selling.

Convenience

  1. Easy and flexible appointment fixing
  2. Clear and convenient ways for customers to reach out
  3. Accessible and simple ways to give feedback and effective complaint redressal mechanism

Customization

  1. Tailored Solutions
  2. Personalized selling
  3. Flexible pricing models

Communication

  1. Availability of clear, concise communication regarding products
  2. Frequent touchpoints
  3. Innovative modes of communication- video tours, virtual reality, visual data graphics etc
  4. Simple, clutter free communication technology

While virtual selling will force sales professionals to get more communicative, data-driven and innovative, the basic principles that decide the success of sales remain timeless and unchanged. Some of my favourite Dale Carnegie principles are also those that will make virtual selling successful :

  • Let the other person do a great deal of talking
  • Arouse in the other person an eager want
  • Make the other person feel important- do it sincerely.
  • Talk in terms of the other person’s interest
  • Dramatize your ideas

Which human relation principles have helped you the most while selling virtually?

Download Dale Carnegie’s Secret of Success here.

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