Although we are happy to see the back of 2020, we’re not forgetting it in a hurry and we're exploring the multitude of learning’s and questions it presented. We’re still Zooming more than we ever had, and the majority of us are still hugely optimistic according to the Mood of the Sales Leader 2021, which we are excited to share with you, access here. There are a number of challenges this survey has highlighted, but equally positives emerging and opportunities that perhaps we would not have identified had we not had the ‘kick up the backside’ that we so rudely got in 2020.
One interesting highlight from the Mood of the Sales Leader was that 45% of contributors said that in the medium term (3 – 5 years), Covid-19 was going to have a positive impact on their business. Why? Because it was going to make us do things differently, change direction, cause businesses to innovate and re look at their strategic direction. What an opportunity. I have enjoyed www.covidinnovations.com, for inspiration on doing things differently.
Our interest is how it will change the way that we sell? For many there will be lip service, there will be talk we will do this and that, which may never eventuate, but for others (and some already) changes will be made. These will ultimately lead to a raft of positive outcomes including, better internal processes, happier staff, better client knowledge and increased revenue.
What we do know now is that face to face meetings have reduced, they haven’t been fully replaced but they have reduced. In the past there was an expectation that all of your meetings with a prospect or client should be in person but now the online meeting is an acceptable part of the process. We also know that for our productivity that is a very positive change.
At Indicator the biggest questions we had from our community in the second half of last year was how do we turn our focus to inside sales? Can we turn our customer service team into sales roles and what do we do with our field sales teams?
The worldwide trend is to employ more inside sales teams as they are less expensive, sales teams are focusing less on geography and more on verticals with productivity outweighing the field salesperson. We have seen some research that highlights that
"inside sales hiring is outstripping outside sales by 15:1"
This shift was well on its way pre-Covid but has accelerated in the past 12 months.
Deciding whether you can transition to inside sales, depends on your industry, customer base, complexity of sales and what you are selling. If you are one of the many companies grappling those questions right now, we’ve compiled some thought starters and actions for you.
Think inside/outside sales as a combination – Depending on what your company sells, take some time to re look at your sales process to include both inside and outside sales. Whilst there are some solid pros to inside selling you simply can not beat the rapport that you can build with a customer when you meet them in person and activate all 5 senses.
Know your customers – We would encourage the mapping of all of your top customers to understand the best way to sell to each. Some will value the seeing in person over the inside whereas others will enjoy the brevity that not being face to face can bring.
Think personalization in all of your interactions, we are highly encouraging of using some form of template for emails and automation but make sure it is personalised towards your customer, to do so we need to be well researched and targeted.
Know your team member skills – What skills do our team members have to successfully transition and what level do they need to be? You may need to completely overhaul what your salespeople look like which will also include resetting of sales objectives, targets and systems.
Check Culture – if we are spending more time in the office or remotely what does that mean from a cultural perspective? Is our office suitable to host all of our team talking on phones? If our team is remote can we come together regularly for off-sites etc?
Technology update – how suitable is our technology, do we utilise a CRM well, is our marketing driving leads, how does our team appear on social channels, is our phone system suitable to handle in and outgoing calls. MOTSL21 highlights the use of more advanced sales technologies such as chatbots (22%) and diallers (7%) are not well utilised in this country, but they can be extremely valuable to support inside selling.
Personal brands – encourage your sales team to understand how they appear online and look for ways to improve the way they depict themselves to the buyer. Building trust and rapport when you are not in the room with a customer absolutely does take longer.
Sales call etiquette – people still purchase on emotion so how do we generate the right emotions when we are not in a room with our customer. Look for feedback, win/loss information is always valuable and record and study your online meetings.
Recruitment processes – if we are looking for new inside salespeople think about changing the way you recruit. Spend more time on the phone with them, do they have a good phone manner? Engage with them more on email, online, check their spelling and grammar. How do they appear online?
Digital appearance – how is our appearance on zoom, what is our virtual background like, do we need to create a room that comes across as more professional or more welcoming? Does it align with our brand values? We were allowed a lot of slack in 2020 with having kids in the background, holding meetings in our kitchen etc, but we will have to up our game in 2021.
A lot to think about, but the opportunities are there. Sales is definitely not a destination, it’s a wild and unpredictable journey, keep the conversations happening, keep evolving and pick up the phone if you need us.