You are selling in the new sales environment.
Like most other activities, COVID-19 and social distancing have affected sales. Depending upon your product/service and your market, your sales environment might have radically changed. For companies selling complex solutions, the traditional sales cycles have been disrupted. They’ve been hit by the double whammy of restrictions on face-to-face meetings and the difficulty of flying in experts to attend customer discussions. This is important. Good sales techniques such as Miller Heiman or the Complex Sale rely to a great extent on multiple relationships, not 1:1 selling.
High-value sales have a level of complexity that requires expertise. It might be around the technical solution, the value to the customer, or the commercial deal. The salesperson’s role is to adapt and position the solution to meet the customer’s (or prospect’s) needs and martial the internal resources. Salespeople should know enough about the solution, so they can deploy their experts to add expertise, not to describe the solution or qualify the opportunity.
Often the expert is part of the solution, not just crafting the solution. Customers want to work with vendors with deep expertise. But flying in experts is no longer an easy option in this new sales environment. Travel costs are likely to rise, companies may be concerned about the duty of care to their employees, and restrictions may change overnight.
The Zoom call
The solution to the restrictions on face-to-face meetings is now Zoom. Other solutions are available, but Zoom is winning at the moment. There is an argument that Zoom provides an ideal platform for customer engagement, and it does – almost! Organizing online meetings is a skill and there are many resources available to help improve the process. But most would admit that even a well-organized Zoom call doesn’t fully replicate a face-to-face meeting. Also, people are beginning to realize that a Zoom meeting can be quite tiring. Long lunches are a thing of the past, so are long meetings. Presentation is important but preparation is key.
One of the most frustrating things about sales is that the text-book view of a sales cycle is rare, and sales can be ‘lost’ far down the sales cycle. Salespeople may not target the right prospects. They may misunderstand their own proposition. Or they could just fail to use the knowledge within the company.
“If only HP knew what HP knows, we’d be three times more productive.”
Lew Platt, CEO of Hewlett-Packard
The lazy solution is to involve experts too early in the sales cycle (now even easier via Zoom). The net result might be better qualification, but at the expense of stretching team resources – resources which might be employed more productively on better prospects. Salespeople need to know how to target and qualify prospects and move an opportunity through the sales cycle.
In some respects, COVID-19 and the new sales environment just exacerbates any weaknesses in an organization’s existing approach. Now is a good time to ensure you enable all your sellers to sell your full portfolio. Here is simple checklist of how this can be achieved:
- Enable sellers to sell
Not through generalized sales skills; they should already have those. But with the knowledge to sell a specific proposition
- Collect, collate, and disseminate knowledge
Capture the existing knowledge of both the solution (product/service) and how to sell it. Make sure everyone in the team is on the same sheet. For example, by providing success stories, a valuable tool in a sales engagement
- Close the gap between Sales and Marketing
Ensure marketing is fully aligned with sales so that sellers are pushing on an open door and the right door. Do this by focusing first on the sales engagement. From that derive the marketing support required. This is the reverse of the approach taken in most organizations.
- Finally, focus on quality, not quantity.
Everyone is super busy. They don’t have time to read lots of ‘stuff’. Keep any content concise and focused. And it’s about the information, not the platform. Sales Enablement, Content Management and CRM/SFA platforms may help, but they are supporting players, not the main act.
Sales Enablement is Expertek’s business. It’s the key to ensuring that salespeople can sell complex solutions. It requires a mix of skills, so we work closely with all your sales-related functions. We bring together sales, marketing, and product management to re-energize sales in the shortest possible timescales.
Contact us today to discuss how we have helped companies such as Aruba, Gamma and Cubic Corporation.