BE A SALES DETECTIVE: GATHERING INTEL

BE A SALES DETECTIVE: GATHERING INTEL

Why is “intel” – aka gathering client and competitor intelligence – so important right now? There is no crystal ball to forecast the future. What insights do you want your team to gather to help you make future sales decisions?

When we asked sales leaders to identify their biggest challenge with COVID, 83% stated it was the unknown and how challenging it is to plan for the future.

When we asked sales leaders to identify their biggest challenge with COVID, 83% stated it was the unknown and how challenging it is to plan for the future. Click To Tweet

Even though several businesses are starting to re-open, there are still many travel restrictions, especially into customer facilities.  Business owners, senior organizational leaders and customers are seeking business intelligence to help them make future decisions on how COVID will continue to impact their business.

Even though your sales team is not currently on their “feet on the street”, they can put on their detective hats. They can still be creative, be curious, and be confident in order to gather this important intel.

Turn your Check In Conversations into more PURPOSEful Business Conversations to gather business intel for your senior leadership team and help them understand what is going on in the marketplace.

Your sales team needs to understand that business will never be the same.  Your sales team needs to understand why this information is critical to the future decision making, sustainability and success of your business.  This information can be as critical and precious as new leads.

Here are different ways for you to gather business intelligence for your organization. Talk to your customers to ask and learn:

  • What projects are they working on now and in the future?
  • What will the new norm look like?
  • Will there be pent up demand for their services to their customers?
  • Will there be a pent up demand for your services?
  • How will they adapt their facilities to allow employees & customers back?
  • Will current deals be lost during COVID and into the fall?
  • Is there different services they are looking for?
  • How will their staffing situation change?
  • What is the impact of their sales?
  • Are they employing cost cutting, cost optimization or spending for growth?
  • Is their senior leadership team being pro-active, reactive or cocooning?

Here’s one of the best questions to ask, “What do you think January 1, 2021 will look like for both business and your personal life?

Talk to your customers to ask and learn. Here’s one of the best questions to ask, “What do you think January 1, 2021 will look like for both business and your personal life? Click To Tweet

Talk to your fellow sales colleagues and ask them the same questions above to get their insights.

Research your Competitors:

  • Check out their Website and COVID update
  • Order their product online to experience their e-commerce experience
  • Check out their Social media channels
BUYERS REVEAL HOW TO SELL TO THEM VIRTUALLY

BUYERS REVEAL HOW TO SELL TO THEM VIRTUALLY

Last week, we interviewed two buyers to uncover their expectations of how to effectively sell to them virtually.

The buyers we interviewed were:

Susan Ryan – LBM Millwork Buyer – Home Hardware.  Susan has more than 20+ years of buying experience and currently works with more than 80 strategic vendors across Canada.

Scott Prygiel – Senior Buyer – Petsmart. Scott holds more than 15 years of buying experience in both the pet food and grocery sectors.

While both Buyers had their own preferences, they did share some common expectations for having productive virtual meetings with Sales Professionals:

  • Be technically savvy to manage different virtual platforms
  • Some Buyers have a preferred virtual platform – get familiar with the most common ones to avoid fumbling while on the call
  • Be more prepared than ever!
    • Test your technology in advance and prepare a PowerPoint presentation with an agenda & structured outline for great dialogue. Both buyers prefer you to share your PowerPoint with the Buyer 24 hours in advance.
    • Allow time for most relevant content, especially hot topics like e-commerce.
  • Buyers expect your meeting to be compelling, professional and feel like a natural conversation.
    • Dress as you normally would for a face-to-face meeting. This conveys that you’re still serious about the business.
    • Build rapport at the beginning of the meeting to loosen up and make the conversation flow naturally. Do some digging to find out what their personal interests are, customize your virtual background, or comment on something in their background.
  • Buyers are receiving more emails than ever – use the Double Whammy approach (a call followed up with an email) to get noticed.
Buyers are receiving more emails than ever – use the Double Whammy approach (a call followed up with an email) to get noticed. Click To Tweet
  • Both Buyers agreed that in your initial email, you should quickly introduce how your product fills a gap in their product line.
    • Consider sending a customized video with your product or a strong compelling message – Scott said this would get his attention…and not many Sales Professionals are doing it!
  • Have a plan to grow product sales now & for the future (after COVID-19) for retail stores and e-commerce!

Their Final Advice:

  • Collaborate on a customized solution & demonstrate- how it is the right fit for your buyers and WHY! Show you really care about helping them and their customers with the perfect solution.
Collaborate on a customized solution & demonstrate- how it is the right fit for your buyers and WHY! Show you really care about helping them and their customers with the perfect solution. Click To Tweet

Yes, COVID19 is producing obstacles and curveballs that affect selling, but don’t let it bring your sales to a full halt!  Download our Sales Stimulation Template (33 downloads) to overcome your obstacles, including virtual selling.

RE-OPENING BUSINESSES, ASK THESE QUESTIONS

RE-OPENING BUSINESSES, ASK THESE QUESTIONS

Restrictions are starting to be lifted and there is a pent-up demand to get back to normalcy at work. Government officials in all provinces, states and countries are gearing businesses to start planning the phase-in steps.  Everyone is experiencing spring fever to get out, especially with the temperature rising.

But what if you still can’t go see your customers face-to-face? How can you provide value to them during their phase-in stage?  This is the perfect time for you to be turning your check-in conversations into PURPOSE-ful business conversations.

What if you still can’t go see your customers face-to-face? How can you provide value to them during their phase-in stage? This is the perfect time to turn check-in conversations into PURPOSE-ful business conversations. Click To Tweet

You can pivot your Check-In Conversations by starting with a few simple questions:

How is COVID Impacting your business?  Are you getting ready for businesses to re-open?

For more business questions, before you sell too soon…

Ask these Top Business Questions before suggesting your products & solutions:

  • How is COVID19 impacting your business?
  • Have sales increased or decreased during lockdown?
  • How has your plant/operations/team adapted?
  • How are you preparing your team/business as we plan to re-open?
  • What are the biggest challenges your team/business is facing during COVID19?
  • What challenges are you anticipating throughout the rest of 2020?
  • How will you ensure on-going safe distancing measures as work returns?
  • How is your leadership/management team pivoting to adjust (or even thriving) during this situation?
  • How do you plan to stimulate sales?
  • What can we do to help you…?

Remember – COVID19 may have affected some of your customers more than others. You have to tailor your approach and solutions to each customer’s unique situation. Express empathy,and be sure to really listen to what your customer is saying – don’t sell too soon!

Remember – COVID19 may have affected some of your customers more than others. Express empathy,and be sure to really listen to what your customer is saying – don’t sell too soon! Click To Tweet

Using virtual platforms to conduct PURPOSE-ful conversations is a great way to develop rapport, trust, ask more and better business questions, and differentiate yourself as a Consultative Business Advisor. Sales don’t end when face-to-face meetings move virtual!

ARE YOU READY TO SELL REMOTELY?

ARE YOU READY TO SELL REMOTELY?

Are you eagerly looking forward to when you can meet face to face with customers? Maybe you’re craving the days when work wasn’t solely digital: getting up at 6 am, traveling outside your home, dodging traffic, and barely making it to your next client meeting on time – then ending your day with a client dinner or returning emails in the evening. OMG – this was reality just a few weeks ago?!

Today’s reality is: will you get to sell the same way this year? The chances of large tradeshows, conferences, and even a meeting room with 3-4 buyers and decision influencers present will be slim.  Customers will be very selective about who they let in their facilities; interactions are going to remain digital for some time.

I’ve heard sales people referred to as birds in cages who just want to fly. In reality, your wings have been clipped and you’ve been confined to digital working, yet you are still expected to sell and hit your sales targets.

I’ve heard sales people referred to as birds in cages who just want to fly. In reality, your wings have been clipped and you’ve been confined to digital working, yet you are still expected to sell and hit your sales targets. Click To Tweet

Your daily commute can be traded in for a virtual platform with a fancy headset and webcam.  You can even add a green screen for an intriguing background.

It’s time for you to become an expert at using digital video platforms to sell and differentiate yourself from your competition – this will become your new sales weapon!

That’s why you need to get really good at digital selling – before your competition does just that.

Selling over video calls is a great way to accelerate your success while working from home.  It allows you to read facial expressions and body language so that you can understand how to best engage your buyers. As well, seeing each other face to face will enable you to develop trust and credibility.

Here are tips to help you turn your digital conversation into a confident PURPOSE conversation:

  • Daily Sales Team Huddles so everyone can become familiar with different platforms. Assign a salesperson a different topic or feature to become an “expert” on.  It’s easier than you think – just try and practice!
  • Use the PURPOSE Consultative framework as the format to prepare and conduct a digital consultative PURPOSE conversation, just like you would do if you were F2F.
  • Turn on your webcams – what does your background look like? Do you feel comfortable seeing yourself on the screen?  How can you improve your surroundings to create a professional environment?
  • Build rapport by asking clients about their home office environment – look for the clues
  • Practice sharing documents, proposal or even a video
  • If you’re really brave, you can do a product demo or share products from your showroom
  • Don’t do a Sell and Tell Presentation – make it interactive, apply PURPOSE, and ask many open-ended questions. Don’t Sell Too Soon!
  • Schedule the next call and follow-up with another virtual call
  • If you are conducting a professional sales conversation, then ensure you are dressed professionally – the digital meeting room is not the place for ball caps, t-shirts or hoodies!

Why use virtual platforms and digital solutions, rather than a conference call?

  • It allows you to read facial expressions and body language
  • Your buyers will be more engaged
  • Video calls will last longer than a conference call
  • You will develop trust & credibility if done right
Don’t think your customers are relying upon the digital? They are definitely using House Party, Facetime, and Zoom to connect with friends, family … AND your competitors. Click To Tweet

Don’t think your customers are relying upon the digital?  They are definitely using House Party, Facetime, and Zoom to connect with friends, family … AND your competitors.