Our clients’ focus has shifted, and until the current crisis passes, it will require every one of us to quickly reinvent our selling approach as we adapt to this world of connecting with our clients virtually.
The major disruption in the markets can create opportunities to serve our clients, however, selling is now being redefined.
There are five essential sales skills that will help you continue to make sales progress in this new virtual world.
- Proactively Create Value
Research your client. Read the “Letter to the Shareholders” in their Annual Report. What are their challenges, opportunities, or key initiatives? How can you help them with these? Do your research. This isn’t the time to ask questions you should already know the answers to. Tip: Share your research, trends, or implications, and defer to their expertise and tenure. Then ask, “I’d like to hear your thoughts, feelings, opinion, or reaction (pick one) to that statement.” What specific metrics can you help them improve to realize their goals? What business outcomes can you provide that will help them? If you have Partner Allies in your Account, test your point of view with them, and enlist them to help you improve it. Create a vision of where you are able to advance your client’s interests through your involvement.
- Active Listening
To engage in active listening you must completely focus on the words of the person with whom you are having the discussion. This calls for full engagement. Take the time, slow down, and really seek to connect with the individual. Make sure they feel heard and understood by you. A phrase you might want to adopt is, “What I heard you say is (repeat what you heard), and that is resulting in (frame the situation), is that correct?” The more you practice your skills in active listening, the better you will become.
- Referrals and Introductions
This is a great time to make a list of key people you have helped professionally and ask them for a referral. The vast majority of people will readily provide a referral, and act as a reference, IF you ASK them. We typically don’t do this for two main reasons. 1) We are embarrassed to ask someone to introduce us because it means we are asking for a favor. 2) We simply forget about doing it. It’s a great way to re-establish your network. Set a goal of five referrals and virtual introductions for the day.
There is never time to invest in clients or opportunities that won’t yield a positive result. Now, more than ever, you MUST be ruthless about qualification. Can you sell this opportunity? Do you have the necessary information, strategy, and relationships? Should you sell this business? Is there a strategic fit, appropriate margin, growth potential, and strategic importance? Review your pipeline and assess key opportunities for their level of qualification and get rid of anything that doesn’t pass qualification.
- Virtual Presentation Skills
Using videoconferencing technology to present ideas, solutions, or provoking information is now a critical skill. Get used to it. Using the technology isn’t that challenging, but your presentation skills will have to be modified. You have a small amount of time to create interest. IF you are presenting slides, you will need to get your point across in ten slides or less. The old adage of “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you just told them” certainly applies. Visual graphics must take the place of bullet points, where possible. You must tell a story that provides insights, generates excitement, or disturbs them—and then you have to actively listen to gauge their interest.When using video, practice your skills to hone your camera presence. Record your practice and ask someone else to critique your body language and tone of voice. Pay attention to what is showing in your background!
While we longingly anticipate the resolution of the current crisis, there is much we can do to help maintain momentum to drive results. These five sales skills will positively change your world, in a world that is now in a state of change. Remember, it’s about adapting to the new “rules of the marketplace,” improvising new approaches, sales skills, and overcoming the obstacles in your selling path.
Review the five essential sales skills and pick two you want to focus on. Make a commitment to write them down and invest ten minutes to outline how you intend to become mindfully vigilant about improving them.