More recent sales training and methodologies promote the idea that customers are well informed about vendors’ solutions, and that “discovery” questions are no longer required to establish needs because buyers already know what they want.
I do not agree with that approach. If a vendor is selling a new and disruptive technology, how could a buyer know the value it could bring to their business?
Today, as Accenture comments the business impact of coronavirus is now profound. Organisations must protect their people, build resilient supply chains and put in place new ways to serve their customers – fast! New needs are emerging for technology to support this radical and high speed change.
Whole sectors of the economy are in shutdown; travel for example. Others sectors are in a race to get their products to market in an impossibly short period of time, eg life sciences. Mckinsey in a new report says that “Healthcare Systems are on a war footing”. More organisations are seeing an overnight shift from face-to-face customer contact, to online remote interaction; retail being a prime example. Companies that are late with their digitalisation plans must get them back on track or ahead of deadlines – time is precious.
Despite the uncertainty, as Bain and Company state, “the companies that build the businesses that help customers today will emerge from the crisis as winners“. Agile and successful organisations are already changing to operate in the new world. They welcome innovative technology that helps them achieve their new operating model, faster.
What are the top three actions for a remote sales force?
For salespeople, I can see three immediate steps to survive and succeed:
- Re-qualify all deals in their forecast. Ask prospects which changes they see in their business, and what this means to their technology needs (effective today – not three weeks ago). If a deal is no longer viable, find out quickly and revise the forecast accordingly.
- Revise customer messaging around the new emerging demand drivers. Sales people must talk to their customers and prospects and share that data immediately with their manager so that it can be validated and shared across the company. Lack of feedback or bottlenecks in validating or sharing cannot be permitted.
- Engage customers using:
- New value/pain/gain discovery questions based on answers to 1 and 2 above.
- Reference customer stories which are relevant to new customer needs.
- Offer a simple, entry level, fast adoption solution to get a quick first order.
This piece follows on from our earlier post about leading isolated sales teams.
Stay safe and well.