Covid19 is creating new sales challenges because buyer behavior has and continues to change. It has impacted our daily lives and how we go about doing business. Salespeople I have spoken to feel demotivated to the point of becoming immobilized. The greater fear appears to be failing to achieve sales targets and losing their jobs, than the threat of contracting the virus. The current situation is serious, with some industries decimated. However, it has birthed new businesses and created sales records for others. So, if you are in a sales slump because of Covid19 how can you turn it around?
Beliefs directly affect attitude and in turn impact self-worth. False beliefs can limit who you can become and what you can achieve. Question any negative belief and replace it with a positive attitude. Fear-based self-limiting thoughts rob you of your mental and emotional energy and lower self-worth. A thought is only a thought and nothing else. It does not mean it is true. Notice it, then let it go.
A false belief may have been imposed on you in the past, but an attitude is something you choose. Present Covid19 circumstances will not last, change is always inevitable. High self-worth is needed to function at an optimal level. Remind yourself of the times you were successful and how it felt and take the rush of endorphins with you.
You will need to vary and keep in close contact with your clients more than ever during Covid19.
There will be clients who will not want to meet you in person, but others are open to it. Those who do not, respect their decision, and use other forms of contact. Aim for in-person where possible because it is the most effective interpersonal connection by far.
Do not try and sell with every phone call. If you do you will find obstacles that will be put in your way. Show your compassionate side by asking the sort of questions you would ask a friend. Covid19 is top of mind for everyone so why not ask about its impact on them personally, and how it has caused changes at work? Many clients work from home so getting through is easier than ever.
4. Video conference
There has been a rapid move to video conferencing since Covid19 which is understandable. It is a valuable cost-effective tool, saving time on travel, allows you to connect with clients who may be at various locations, and importantly, there is the eye to eye contact. It can be a better communication tool than a phone but the ultimate connection with a client is in-person.
This is still the most popular way for businesses to reach out and connect. If you send an email with product/service offers only, it will end in the trash bin. Use email to keep in touch. Send personal and or business articles you know would interest the client. Let them know you have been thinking about them by relating it to trigger a thought, such as a person you recently met had the same last name. Be creative with the subject line so your client will open your email over others.
The number of sales and sales volumes will more than likely be impacted. Do not be overly concerned. Focus on any additional issues/s you may be able to solve for your clients and continue to develop and build relationships. Your actions will be remembered long after Covod19 goes into the history books. Clients will want to deal with you when this is over.
How will sales change after Covid19, no-one can accurately predict, but one thing is for certain, people prefer to deal with people whom they like, trust, and can believe in. Your behavior can be the differentiator between you and your competitors.
“A good salesperson can sell anything to anyone.” True or false?
The statement infers a salesperson who has mastered the skill of selling, possesses the ability to convince any person to buy any product or service.
This is a myth.
The statement may have had credence decades ago when the business world was simpler, but today’s selling/buying environment is more complex, clients are better informed and have considerably more choice.
Let us digress for a moment and look at the sport of cricket. The game has been played at an international level for over 130 years. At that time, one player, Don Bradman, was the stand-out batsman. His batting average was 99.94. To appreciate the magnitude of this achievement only three cricketers have scored an average of over 60 and none over 61. This is despite the professionalization of the sport and the dramatic improvement in technology that allows players to hit harder and longer than in Don’s time. Bradman was undoubtedly an exceptional performer.
Like other bat and ball games, cricket requires bowlers. Bradman did bowl and took 36 wickets at first-class level. His bowling average was 37.97. Not bad for a part-time or change bowler – but not good enough to be selected to play at the state level – let alone a national team.
Don Bradman was an outstanding cricketer, as a batsman. Whilst there have been outstanding all-rounders – players who have exceptional skills in both batting and bowling, but these cricketers are rare. The point is, even the best at a given sport are only good at one facet of that sport.
The Don Bradman analogy is also true for extraordinarily successful salespeople. Salespeople with a specific set of skills selling a product/service within a sales environment best suited to them can be outstanding performers. However, when placed in a different sales environment selling a different product/service, their performance can drop to below average. Being in the wrong sales environment can also create psychological problems and an impact on self-worth, motivation, and in extreme cases a sales career. So why will a salesperson change their sales environment?
There are two main reasons:
1. Unaware there are different sales environments and the risk associated with change
2. Advice given by others who are equally uninformed.
Sales environments – an introduction
Any product or service can be matched to one of four distinct sales environments. Salespeople who consistently produce a high level of sales outcomes have the skills and attributes aligned to their matching sales environment. For a sales manager to be most effective their skill set needs to correspond in the same way.
The days when a salesperson had all the product knowledge are long gone. The search engine technology and social media provide the client with instant information about a product/service and its corresponding competitor products/services. Changes have impacted how marketing, leadership, governance, and other business functions operate. However, few changes have happened in business to business sales roles.
Sales trainers and course designers have introduced a multitude of sales programs including but not limited to strategic selling; relationship selling; consultative selling; conceptual selling; visionary selling and smarter selling. Whilst most of these concepts may add to the growing body of knowledge, many contain similar theories and or use content comparable to that developed in the 1960 and ’70s. For example, ‘close early and close often.’ To rely solely on sales technique in more sophisticated and complex sales settings will result in failure.
A sales environment is influenced by core elements including:
The customer/client’s need and knowledge
A customer/client’s knowledge and experience with a product/service can range from none to extensive. A product/service value can be critical to a business’s successor at the other extreme it could be a commodity. Depending on these variables a salesperson needs to be aware of their individual customer/client’s past and present expose to their and or competitor product/service.
Product complexity and need for product/service support
Depending on the product/service the sales process can be straightforward involving one sales call to the decision-maker. No or minimal post-sales service may be required. In other industries sales, calls will involve multiple contacts within the organization over an extended period before confirmation is possible. Strategic account management often follows.
The product or service life cycle
The product/service life cycle can be new to the market and therefore somewhat unknown. Alternatively, it may have been around for many years, well known by customers/clients, and become a commodity and near the end of its life cycle? The optimum selling strategy is determined by the product/service fit in relation to its life cycle.
The competitive environment
A salesperson’s products/services are compared by analyzing external and or internal competitors. External competitors are the salesperson’s most common and the internal competitor occurs when the client uses their own resources. In the latter, the customer/client becomes a competitor. The number of people involved in the decision process can add complexity and increase the selling/buying cycle. External competitor behavior can be aggressive to low key.
The salesperson’s natural sales style
Most salespeople have two sales style patterns with one being dominant. There is no sales style pattern better than another, but a salesperson needs to know their sales style to understand how they sell and their natural communication manner. This may not necessarily be compatible with how the customer/client wants to buy so the salesperson needs to shift their style accordingly. Lack of style-shifting ability is the core reason why many salespeople fail.
The salesperson’s competence
This is the ability to use a sales process, match with the buying process, and apply the required skills and strategies.
Sales attributes need to be in line with one of four sales environments to maximize effectiveness. These are:
The product/service is new to the market or has been available and not known to the customer/client. The salesperson has a short-term advantage over its competitors and a limited window of opportunity to sell as much volume as possible until a similar product/service is offered by competitors. The profit margin in Environment 1 is high because for a period of time there is no market pressure from competitors to reduce prices. This provides the company with an opportunity to recoup some or all of its investment in research, development, and set-up costs.
Industry examples: Apple’s first release of the iPad, door to door industrial chemicals, and some domestic financial services.