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!

TURN CHECK IN CONVERSATIONS INTO PURPOSE CONVERSATIONS

TURN CHECK IN CONVERSATIONS INTO PURPOSE CONVERSATIONS

You have been calling all your clients with an empathetic “check-in” to see how they are doing. You’ve been pleasantly pleased that it’s easier to speak to clients live and they are appreciative of your call showing care for them and their families.  You’ve been brave and even called customers you haven’t spoken to in several years.

Now what? Do you call them again and check-in? Or do you call to seek sales, as you’re getting pressure to change the declining sales numbers?

For some, this is becoming an ethical dilemma.

How can you prevent your team from inappropriately “Selling Too Soon”?

For some, this is becoming an ethical dilemma: how can you prevent your team from inappropriately “Selling Too Soon”? Click To Tweet

The PURPOSE Consultative framework provides a step by step process to show care, build trust, and simply ask questions to pivot the conversation about how COVID19 is impacting their business.

It will guide you to transition the conversation from check-in to asking more about their business to help you determine their priorities…and if it is suitable to explore your solutions with them.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing PURPOSE framework with the sales teams I’ve been coaching. I’ve also been applying PURPOSE framework to my daily 10 sales calls each morning! It’s working very well and a few opportunities have even emerged.

  • P – Prepare well before the customer meetings

Visit their website and/or social media to research their COVID19 update, as most have posted on their business continuity plan.  Prepare with your own positive self-talk – you’re here to help, care and if suitable explore your solutions. Prepare by reviewing the PURPOSE framework and the business type questions you can ask and not ask depending on their response. 

Prepare well before your customer meetings. Prepare with your own positive self-talk – you’re here to help, care, and if suitable, explore your solutions. Click To Tweet
  • U – Understand the customer’s personality style, generation & decision-making role to adapt their conversation

The Trifecta factor will help you to adapt to a more comfortably chatty conversation. If they are exhibiting a driver personality style, it may be appropriate to pivot to a discussion about impacting their bottom line.

  • R – Rapport building to kick off the meeting

How is COVID continuing to impact you (and your family)? You can even get more personal and ask about their favourite Netflix, kids’ activities, to cooking.  One Sales Leader even joked, “Hey, I have tickets for the Raptors game- are you interested?”

  • P – Purpose of the meeting by stating the meeting objectives and/or agenda items including length of meeting

This is the turning point in the check-in conversation.  The purpose of my call is to further discuss how COVID is impacting your business and ….

  • O – Open-Ended Questions, at least 5-10 questions focused on their business impact & ideal outcome

Create your list of great business questions.

How is this impacting the efficiency of your plant operations?

Have you laid off any staff?

Have you adjusted your budgets for …?

How is this impacting the bandwidth of your internet services with your entire family working and doing school from home?

What is your go-forward plan when lockdown ends?  

  • S – Summarize & Solutions

Use their words to repeat back a summary of their situation and then provide your solutions if suitable.

So, what I’m hearing you say is…..  Have you considered ….

  • E – Execute the next steps by scheduling the next meeting or call to present the proposal

Suggest a next call with a specified date & time to come back and provide a working proposal with options for them to consider.

Download the PURPOSE Conversation Template to coach your sales team to have more PURPOSEful Business Conversations.

FUEL YOUR MOJO

FUEL YOUR MOJO

You do your best to practice positive attitude, self-talk and optimism – especially as it relates to sales, as that’s what makes a sales professional successful.

Then COVID19 hits. You’ve now gone through several weeks of lock-down mode with no concrete end date in sight.  Some say mid-May, others state the end of June, and others estimate even longer.

For some of you, this “unknown” is sending you in a downward negative tailspin.  Each morning it’s getting harder to get out of bed – perhaps because it’s still dark outside, or you stayed up later than usual caught up in the series of Tiger King, or you are consuming a few more drinks each night — or all three.

You drag yourself to your make-shift workplace as you have given up your usual space to your spouse and kids who are homeschooling.  You grab a second cup of coffee to get your mojo going and drown out the kids negotiating to put off their few hours of on-line school time.  You quickly watch the news to get an update and see that the COVID19 numbers continue to soar.  You shake your head in dismay and mumble wishfully, “If only sales numbers could rise this fast every day.”

You know you should make more sales calls today.  Your plant production is slowing down and your organization needs more work to prevent more lay-offs.  There is a lot riding on you… and admittedly, you’re wrestling with whether it’s even appropriate to be reaching out to customers and selling at this time.

There is a lot riding on you… and admittedly, you’re wrestling with whether it’s even appropriate to be reaching out to customers and selling at this time. Click To Tweet

You’re also much better at communicating with customers when you can meet with them face to face. As a consultative sales professional, you’re concerned that you’re not being sensitive to your customers’ needs at this time.

You don’t like the dark cloud that is looming over you now and you know you must shake this off.

During the last recession, I’ll admit I worked myself into this black state. This time around, I’m working hard to fuel my mojo to thrive, not just survive.  Here’s what’s working…

What fuels your mojo?  How will you feed your mojo?

Here’s what I’m doing to stay ahead of the black cloud…

1. Working out each morning while watching the news updates. When I get moving, increase my heart rate and get oxygen moving through my body, I feel stronger and better about the day.

2. Every day I have a list of clients I call between 8am – 9:30am. I create the list the day before and start with the easy or favourite ones to kick-start my day. The purpose of these calls is to understand how COVID19 is impacting their business. Some are increasing sales – even significantly – and don’t have time to train; some are laying off staff and don’t have the budget to train; some are just waiting to ride out the storm. It’s great to have these conversations and just simply learn about how your clients’ businesses are surviving and even thriving.

3. We have to feel useful or feel that we are helping. We started to offer weekly Sales Leader Sessions: “Sales Leaders Leading through COVID19” to bring Sales Leaders together to Give-Get-Gain insight and advice. These sessions are definitely filing my mojo soul!

Here’s what I’m doing to stay ahead of the black cloud… 1. Working out each morning while watching the news 2. Calling clients between 8am and 9:30am 3. Teneo's weekly Sales Leader Sessions 4. Team daily huddle #FuelYourMojo Click To Tweet

4. The daily huddle with my team – seeing their faces and being held accountable and connected to get things done for our daily 12 noon call.

5. Calling/texting a family or friend every night – someone who needs a social boost, including my running buddies who are working in hospitals, my brother-in-law who is an infectious disease doctor, or my Mom who is going stir crazy.

6. Reading Robert Munsch stories to Jasmine’s daughters – Celine & Bianca through Zoom. Their giggles were infectious!

7. Lastly, the simplicity of getting outdoors for a walk or run to enjoy the sunshine or seeing the flowers and trees to blossom, along with waving to neighbours or starting a conversation from across the road.

What fuels your mojo to thrive, not just survive?  Carve time in your day to enjoy these simple pleasures while living in a complex COVID19 craziness.