Several executives suggested we must learn how to excel at the remote sale. Think about how to turn everything virtual. For example, so many companies do corporate tours where they show their facilities and capabilities. Move that entirely online, so someone could be sitting at home and have that same experience. We should quickly be building those assets. Turn everything virtual, with an emphasis on video.
One sales leader has directed his sales force to divert all attention to existing accounts and stop the pursuit of new logos. He acknowledges the strategy may be right or wrong, but he’s betting that one of the key elements that cause companies to choose one company over another is trust. And it’s going to be hard to establish trust during this time with somebody you don’t know. They’re putting their energy where they have existing high-trust relationships.
There’s one skill we always need to work on, and it’s become even more critical: listening. Converse with customers rather than relying on a slide deck. One leader said, “I’m always against PowerPoints because it just says you’re lecturing, but you really don’t know if the client is focused on a PowerPoint over the phone. If you’re situationally conversing, you’re at least understanding if they’re distracted or you’re having a solid interaction and engagement.”
Another suggested that we be more efficient with the meeting time. Virtual meetings often start late and have a hard stop, so be prepared. Plan out your calls as structured conversations, with thoughtful research and prepared questions. Use a conversation planner. Don’t wing it. To avoid disengagement, state up-front that you’ll be asking questions and listening for much of the discussion.
Take advantage of the new platform skills. Check the background of your physical space. Have you assessed the image you’re projecting onscreen? Do you have the correct technology for streaming clear video and sound? How are you dressing for your video calls? When and how do you use screen sharing or other tools?
Challenge to leaders: Turn this crisis into opportunity. Think about new ways to connect with your current clients to help them solve their problems. Do more listening than talking and get your people the help they need to do their jobs more efficiently.
- Generally, salespeople are used to being independent, working from home, and conducting business over the phone or video. But many of our customers aren’t as used to this mode, and they’re being disrupted, too.
- Some leaders perceive this challenge as a leap forward into a new operating rhythm, a different way of interacting with clients. Others expect a swift return to face time once the danger has passed.