Covid has led to all sorts of challenges and upheavals in the world of work – not least for sales professionals. Here are some ideas for getting the most out of the new normal…
In recent years, the way in which organisations approach sales has changed, with a greater emphasis on a consultative approach and building relationships. The days of cold-calling and pressured sales were already on the way out before Covid-19 struck, forcing a more virtual approach that relied more on softer skills.
“People who work in sales need to be able to sell in the hybrid world,” says Liz Sebag‑Montefiore, sales director at HR consultancy 10Eighty. “It’s important to think about how to communicate in hybrid business development meetings.”
The following pointers reveal what top sellers do differently, and they could help you to optimise your sales strategy for 2022.
1. Do your homework
Top sellers prepare for every engagement, setting a clear purpose with an expected outcome in mind, says Premal Patel, MD of retail marketing firm Catalina UK. “They also understand who the decision makers and the influencers are and apply different strategies for both,” he says. “Top sellers also don’t give up. Even when the process feels difficult or near impossible, they find a way to overcome the hurdles, maintain positivity and create the right impact to win the sale.”
2. Identify the need
It’s essential to understand the problem the client needs solving, says Mike Drew, partner and head of the technology and IT services practice at recruiter Odgers Berndtson. “They listen, adapt and bring together partners to deliver a holistic business solution, rather than just selling isolated services or products,” he says.
3. Build multiple relationships
In the current climate, with teams likely to be more physically disjointed, it’s likely any sale will involve different stakeholders. according to LinkedIn research, seven people are involved in the average B2B buying decision. “This means relationship-building between the salesperson and primary buyer is highly important, so that buyers don’t get lost in the sea of conversations,” says Iain Masson, RVP UK & Nordics. The most important skills today are empathy, focus and brevity, he adds.
Being able to work in a broader ecosystem of organisations is crucial, too. “Most organisations don’t just sell their own products or services, so one of the big drivers is how to manage and grow these partner ecosystems,” says John McLaughlin, chief commercial officer, human capital solutions, EMEA at Aon. “We’re seeing this moving down the ranks, with people thinking about it earlier in their careers.”
4. Challenge clients
Part of a more consultative selling approach means being prepared to ask tough or in-depth questions, says Pete Evans, UK practice partner of global sales development firm SalesStar. “To become a true partner, you have to be constantly challenging your client, continually adding value,” he says. “Clients are looking for partners and salespeople who truly understand business, not more friends.”
5. Social media
The pandemic has made it imperative to use social channels to engage potential buyers, says Michael Cupps, senior vice president, marketing, at software firm ActiveOps. “This is less about ‘look at me and my accomplishments’ and more about sharing information that will intrigue potential buyers to engage in a conversation,” he says. “They will then adapt to the right amount of in-person and digital engagement that allows the customer a mutual pace to evaluate and close.”
6. Stay on top of technology
Making use of the latest technology is a growing part of a successful salesperson’s toolkit. “Today, artificial intelligence and machine learning can help analyse an organisation’s lead prioritisation and opportunity-to-close-won scoring, and ideal customer profile alignment,” says Craig Charlton, CEO at SugarCRM.
“That enables them to understand which businesses are similar to other businesses in their customer base, and the attributes that make these customers the best and most profitable.”
To discover ways to create new business opportunities for your organisation, visit business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions