In our uncertain times, for-profit organizations have elevated selling, the means by which revenue is generated, to the highest priority. Sales revenues are the life blood of a business and enable its survival. As a result, sales professionals are under significant pressure to identify, connect with, engage and bring in new clients, as well as obtaining additional business from existing clients.
No surprises there. Making sales is the role of sales reps. It’s just that thanks to COVID, the playing field has undergone a seismic shift. Once-thriving industries, most notably restaurants, hotels and fitness, have been greatly diminished. Commercial real estate sales and leasings are staggering, as legions of white collar professionals cobble together DIY offices and work from home. How can sales representatives reach prospects when they’re usually no longer in the office? How can they introduce themselves and their products and services when they can no longer meet prospects face2face?
Virtual technology has solved most of the communication problem, but virtually enabled conversations do not make it easy for sales reps to meet and lay the groundwork for building new relationships. Furthermore current or previous clients, who now work from home, are often overwhelmed as they strive to meet the new and growing expectations of their jobs. Receiving a request from a sales rep to schedule yet another videoconference call does not spark joy.
LinkedIn has issued its fourth annual State of Sales Report after interviewing some 1,000 B2B buyers and sellers in several countries, including Brazil, Canada, France, the UK and the US. Here are some key takeaways.
Good data matters
To clarify and justify their buying decisions, the report found that 49 % of prospective B2B buyers feel that objective data is a required element of a sale and data- driven decisions have grown in popularity in the COVID era. Data adds value. Sales professionals need only to determine which metrics matter to the prospect?
Doing some homework and asking a few questions is the way to learn what information will persuade your prospect. Now when you send an email to request a videoconference call, you can tempt your prospect with a couple of data tidbits that signal you understand what matters. Now you present yourself as being a problem-solver. Present some data and ask what other information will be useful.
Getting to know your prospect as you get to know their business challenges and objectives is part of engagement. Demonstrate that you’re not just trying to make a sale, you’re trying to help the prospect do solve, or avoid, a problem.
Be a problem-solver
Problem-solving emerged as an attribute that 47% of B2B buyers value highly. As always, effective selling means knowing the customer. One way to engage prospects is to ask about their business and learn as much as politely possible about why and how your product or service could help the organization achieve important objectives. In short, what do they really need to do and how can you help them get there?
Furthermore, you might ask prospects how they did what they need to do before you and your product or service came along? Now you’ll pick up some useful intel on competitors and know how to position your offering as superior, as you assume the role of problem- solver.
When sellers focus on client objectives and provide meaningful data it’s possible to position oneself as a problem-solver, if not as a trusted adviser and collaborator for the prospect. In this way B2B sellers earn trust. For 75% of B2B buying decision-makers, the amount of trust that they have for a seller is the number one factor that leads a buyer to do business with a particular company.
In sum, 70 % of survey respondents feel that leading through change is now a required competency for sales managers and is more important than it was five years ago. Sales leaders are wrestling with the question of what the change in the business environment means for their organization and their team. In a separate LinkedIn survey of sales managers conducted in March 2020, 55 percent of the 200 respondents feared that a decrease in their sales pipeline is inevitable.
Thanks for reading,
Image: Over tea, Moroccan Berbers (Amazigh) build a relationship and discuss the potential sale of a rug.