It goes without saying that the impact on the world of the recent covid-19 pandemic has been immense. It is widely accepted that the effects are likely to be lasting and that the way we do business will have now changed forever.
During the global lockdowns, business adapted and learned how to work remotely and how to communicate differently. Some of these newly acquired skills and methods will undoubtedly become central to the way we interact with potential and existing customers going forward.
Many of us are wondering how we should sell, to keep or win customers, in an environment where conventional face-to-face sales meetings are going to be even more unlikely and perhaps very rare. At Killick Martin, we have been considering some of the questions and working through the answers.
Accepting the change
The most important step for any organisation is to accept there will be change. By continuing along the same lines as before we are risking being left behind in the new world. Of course, some people, and even some businesses, are more open to change than others.
Therefore, to overcome this potential barrier, the first stage should be to discuss and communicate the need for change with your key staff members and commercial team(s).
It is likely that the sales cycle will be longer, while customers are feeling differently about making changes to their supply chain. Discuss with your team; the sales successes and failures you have had during the lockdown period and how customers have been responding to the different communication methods.
Perhaps the biggest area we need to change will be our choice of communication tools. Many of us had never used Zoom or Teams, before the coronavirus outbreak, some had never heard of it.
Yet Zoom and Teams have become the video conferencing tools of choice and most businesses can ill-afford being without them, or a similar product, during the challenging times ahead.
We will also need to review, and maybe change, the way we present ourselves bringing adequate clarity to our features and benefits. We had been moving over to an electronic world long before the pandemic, that movement is likely to be much more accelerated now.
While communication is already changing, some elements of selling will remain true to traditional principals. We will still need to position ourselves to demonstrate competitive advantage, which is making sure we have the right components to produce services, or products, that are better than our competition or rivals.
People – Our people will need to demonstrate enthusiasm and energy, to gain potential clients trust using a new communication medium. These are skills that can be learnt and should be established as core principals for our customer-facing people.
Product/Service – We will need to be proactive in creating and developing our services. They will need to be designed with flexibility in mind, so that we can tailor and adapt them around the customer’s needs.
Value – We will continue to offer value through speed, dependability, compliance and cost, which will usually be once more determined by customers needs.
Sitting in the customer’s seat
Trying to visualise what a customer needs and how they are thinking is by no means a new concept. However, it is likely to be even more important than it was previously.
Our potential and existing customers are already feeling their own way around changes in their customer demand. They may be needing to make changes in their supply models to reduce risk or capital expenditure.
Many will be reviewing their stock levels, gauging availability and processes. They too, will be trying to establish whether their existing supplier selections and policies are able to take them forward into the new world.
We will need to listen and make sure we are able to see things from their point of view. Through the flexibility and adaptability that we have designed in our services, we should then tailor and match our solutions to meet their needs.
What steps can I take now?
- Make sure you have, or employ, quick change artists who can help you adapt.
- Make sure you have the right tools to be a solution orientated service provider.
- Talk to customers and find out what they think they need in the times ahead.
- Review your brand and consider the perception of it. Does it demonstrate your skills? Does it position you well in the new world?
At Killick Martin, we are embracing this new world and have been proactively implementing what we believe are the right tools and values to position us for the changes ahead. If you would like further information on how we have achieved this, or details of the services we provide, then please do not hesitate to contact us.
Written by Paul Gallagher, Managing Director