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Has This Pandemic Ruined Your Sales Process?

So much has happened this year. So many things have changed, you might not have had the chance to notice slight adjustments in your sales process. Much of the change is attributed to new technological developments and a general shift in attitudes regarding how customers make purchasing decisions. With all that movement, when was the last time you reevaluated your sales process?

What We Saw in 2019 vs. Now

Typically, a sales process is a set of repeatable stages, anywhere between 5 – 7, that a salesperson takes to convert a lead to a prospect to a customer. Usually, you see stages such as: initial contact, qualifying the lead, discovery, product demo, proposal, etc.

In 2019, a lot of these steps would have been done in person. But with COVID causing people to work remotely and limiting face-to-face social interaction, many of these stages have moved online in 2020. That has caused a lot of sales organizations to reevaluate their sales process.

Is Face-to-Face Selling Gone?

Before, a salesperson would jump in their car or on a plane and head out to meet a potential customer. They would shake hands, get a tour of the facility, and then go out to dinner to celebrate their new partnership. Then 2020 happened, and a lot of that halted. Salespeople had to get creative when it came to in-person demos or facility tours, they needed to turn to technology.

Connecting with your customer the way they want to be reached will always be important. There is a part of that human connection you want to make sure still exists, even when we do leverage technology. Some people are meeting with their customers face-to-face, but they have COVID protocols in place. This has allowed companies to focus on the business reason for the trip, and think twice about why they are traveling and what they need to get out of the appointments.

If you want to know more about face-to-face meetings and the role of the outside salesperson check out our blog, "The Demise of the Outside Salesperson."

How to Leverage Tools in Your Sales Process

Companies have access to a lot of information that they do not know what to do with. But with the right tools, you can collect, analyze, and apply that data to your selling process.

Social Media – Initial Contacts

Thanks to the internet, companies are far more connected to their prospects and customers. One way to connect with your prospects is by reaching them where they are most active, social media. Have you seen more customer activity online?

According to MDG Advertising "Americans spend an average of 23.6 hours online every week, and most of that time is spent on social media accounts. The reality today is that social media is dominated by consumers." If you break that down even further, it's about 2 hours and 6 minutes a day, says Broadband Search.

Keeping in mind how long people are online and how much information can be gathered from social media, salespeople can easily cut time down looking for leads and initial contacts. According to Optinmonster, “39% of B2B professionals said social selling reduced the amount of time they had to spend researching potential leads.”

Social media is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to buying a product or service. Recent research by Digital Marketing Institute found that "78% of consumers were influenced by social media in some way when purchasing, while nearly half said that reviews, comments and feedback on social media influenced their buying behavior." Has using social media become a staple in your initial contact stage in your selling processes, where it hasn't been before?

When it comes to B2B social media has opened a whole new lens to interacting with customers,  according to Optinmonster, “31% of B2B professionals say that social selling has allowed them to build deeper relationships with clients.” Which can benefit both parties.

Videos – Demos

Driving to a prospect's facility and showing them a demonstration of your product in person has now morphed into something that can be done with video. Studies are showing that video is producing a higher conversion rate. According to Wyzowl, "The higher likelihood of people buying a product (because of a video) increases the conversion rate considerably: Websites that use video have had a conversion rate of 4.8%, compared to 2.9% for those that don't use video." Have you noticed more customers are seeking videos?

Here are a few more facts about how video could affect or influence your sales process:

  • According to Google, "6 out of 10 people would rather watch online videos than television."
  • HubSpot states, "78% of people watch online videos every week, and 55% view online videos every day."
  • According to HubSpot "72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service by way of video."

The use of video with your products or services has become more mainstream than ever before. Video calls have also become a regular occurrence. Video calls have allowed salespeople to gain access to more stakeholders within their customers. More people can be in the meetings because they aren’t limited to who can travel. This is especially important for things like trade shows or events that have been canceled. Usually, only a few people from a company can travel. Now more of the team can be on the call with a potential vendor or supplier.

Automation – Follow Up

Jumping on the automation bandwagon for following up or reporting has never been easier. Social Media Today states, "75% of all companies already use at least one kind of marketing automation tool."

You can autogenerate timely follow-up sequences, create personalized email templates, log call data, distribute relevant content, and streamline your outreach process. This not only saves you time and effort but can speed up your overall sales process.

Have you been able to incorporate any of these tools into your sales process?

Sales Process Today

It's no secret; technology has transformed the way sales organizations communicate with their customers and prospects. Instead of meeting face-to-face, salespeople rely on a variety of tools and technologies to conduct their work. This includes but not limited to email, social media, video chat tools, group work platforms, etc. Whether the use of these tools was forced because of the pandemic or already being utilized, you have to admit they have influenced your sales process.

As a result, you will want to ask yourself, "when was the last time you reevaluated your sales process?" and "what stages have changed?"

No, the pandemic hasn't ruined your sales process, but it has probably changed through the use of technology and access to a lot of online information. By reevaluating your process, you will be able to be more impactful in how your team sells.

About Mike Braun

Mike is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 30+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Mike has been a guest speaker for many groups such as University of Minnesota, MN Quality Council, and ASTD. If you want to find out more about Mike check out his profile here.
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