By TharaniRajamanickam, Blogger at Annex Q
Ken Schmitt, the founder of Sales and Marketing Leadership Alliance (SMLA) and CEO & Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search, moderated the discussion with the expert panel that includedJeremy Mendoza, Director of Sales atAndea, and the Founder and CEO ofAnnexQ,Art Robbins, Director Americas atTwimbit. The expert panel discussed the selling strategies every business should incorporate post-pandemic.
Ken Schmitt is an expert in recruiting sales, marketing, and executive leadership professionals throughout the country. He founded the Sales and Marketing Leadership Alliance to bring together the professionals and leaders in the sales and marketing industry.
The SMLA was founded to help the sales and marketing leaders in Orange County, San Diego, and Los Angeles in California. SMLA aims to establish a community of sales and marketing professionals and provide them with top-notch educational opportunities while connecting them to the leading resource providers in the region. It is powered by TurningPoint Executive Search.
Here is a recap of the Sales and Marketing Leadership Alliance panel discussion on what should be the buying habits and selling strategies of businesses post-pandemic. The panel of experts has navigated these changes and discussed the strategies businesses should incorporate into their business right now.
The purpose of the Discussion
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has impacted every industry and changed everything, including the lifestyle, how businesses operate, and the purchasing habits of your customer. To achieve success in these hard times, businesses need to change their sales and marketing strategies. In SMLA June 2021, the panel of experts discussed the sales and marketing strategies businesses should follow to be successful post-pandemic. The expert panel discussed:
- Why is it important to understand your customers?
- The importance of developing quality content
- The importance of customer focus groups and Market Research
- How has technology changed the way of doing business?
- What changes need to be made in your sales and marketing techs?
- Why should businesses focus on remote selling over in-person selling?
- What are the experts doing post-pandemic to stay ahead in the competition?
- What will be the latest sales and marketing trends in 2021?
Sales Strategies Post-Covid
Jeremy explained the cloud sales engagement tool developed by AnnexQ to help business-to-business sales. The solution helps the buyers and sellers to reduce the sales cycle time by reducing the number of meetings and the time between different meetings.
There would be multiple decision-makers or multiple departments involved in both sides during a sales cycle, resulting in several meetings between them. Keeping in sync between so many stakeholders can be difficult. This would increase the sales cycle time. The sales engagement tool from AnnexQ can help keep the buyer and seller side on the same page by storing everything, including marketing material, PowerPoint presentation, and recorded meetings between the buyer side and seller side. Hence, when a new person from another department steps into the sales cycle, they can follow the steps and stored information instead of starting over again.
While the idea for the solution started before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the strategy used by the solution has changed after the pandemic because of a change in the way businesses are now prospecting and communicating with customers. This is because most customers now avoid meeting in person and prefer to have a meeting online. Now, businesses need to leverage this opportunity to prospect and communicate with their potential buyers online. Choosing the digital medium for prospecting and communicating can be more effective than the offline mode, and the cost of acquisition is a lot less online.
According to Art Robbins, the businesses are now focusing more on topics like customer experience, employee experience, and digital transformation. Businesses are trying to understand the best practices being deployed to benefit from the latest technologies and to understand the changing demands of the customers post-pandemic. According to the research by Twimbit, these things would be the ‘new normal,’ and this would keep evolving with time. Everything has gone remote, and now customers prefer online over offline.
Hence, businesses need to adapt to the new normal and implement both virtual and physical services. The businesses that are creative and are deliberate to adapt to these changes would succeed post-pandemic and become the market leaders.
Businesses need to focus on leveraging technology to provide a more relevant personalized customer experience. However, implementing the right technology is both a challenge and an opportunity in this digital age. Incorporating the right sets of technological tools into your sales and marketing strategies will help your business improve customer experience and build a strong relationship with your customers.
How to stand out from your Competition in this Digital Age?
Jeremy explained in the meeting that if businesses want to stand out from the competition, they should use a customized and highly targeted approach when interacting with the prospects instead of just copy-pasting the content. He also added that before pitching your product/services, introduce yourself and your business to them. Then, explain how you can provide them a solution, and this is only possible when you do your research on the person or the brand beforehand.
One can also use the voice and video function available within LinkedIn. Instead of simply leaving a text message in their DM, share a simple but interactive video to introduce yourself. By using simple but unique approaches, you can get better engagement than your competition. Using these simple and interactive tactics will help you stand out from your competition.
What Platform should Businesses use for Prospecting and Communicating?
For a question from Ken on “Should you ask your customers about what platform would be better suited for them or how they would like to communicate with your business?” Jeremy suggested that it would be a better idea to try and find out the right platform for the customer. If you ask this question to your customer, they may tell you to just email, and you may not hear from them again. It is better to try different routes and find yourself. For example, some customers may prefer to respond quickly on social media DMs, while others may prefer email or call.
However, this would also depend on where the customer is on your sales cycle. If you want to share more information with the customer, you may choose to switch to an email from direct messages on social media. It is better to have multi-platform communication to build better communication.
To this, Ken added, the choice of the platform also depends on your prospect’s age. If your prospect is at the earlier stages of the career, you can send them an email or even a text message on social media, but when trying to communicate with a person with more experience, they may feel that sending a text is unprofessional and they may prefer email and/or voicemail. Hence, it is important to understand your customer and what they would prefer.
Adding to this, Art said that deciding the right platform and distributing the content to each platform can be a challenge to the marketing professionals. He agreed that businesses need to use multi-platform for prospecting and communicating with the client. Companies can use creativity to develop one piece of content and drive other types of content from it like visual content for Instagram, short video reels, a detailed blog, and other pieces of content focusing on various platforms.
When deciding the choice of the platform, you need to analyze what works for your business and your industry. When your decision is based on facts and analytics, you can generate more ROI for your business.
Ken asked Jeremy how he manages the time on different platforms and how to decide how much time should be dedicated to each platform? To this, Jeremy responded that the decision would be based on facts and analytics. Spend most of your time on platforms that generate leads for your business. Then, businesses can experiment and find the most suitable platform.
Changes in Sales after Pandemic
When asked about the changes in sales and prospecting required post-pandemic, Jeremy said most of the meetings are organized online through Zoom and Google Meet. Hence, to make the meetings more interesting, you can make the video more animated and interesting. When selling digitally, take care of little details, including the video background, your posture, your way of talking, etc. When communicating in a video, your voice may not amplify just as while you meet in person.
However, the changes in sales style usually would depend on the type of sales process you are using in your business. Moreover, sales strategies used in one industry may not work in another as every industry requires a different selling strategy according to the target customers. Hence it becomes important to understand the sales cycle and how the buyers’ needs have changed after the pandemic.
To this, Art agreed and added that businesses have gone through tremendous changes post-pandemic. With so many changes, the budgets, the business plans, the approval process, and the buying cycles have become longer and uncertain. Hence, marketers need to add the sales nurturing process to their marketing process. Marketers and sales representatives need to keep the customers engaged without pressuring them to make a decision quickly.
What should be the Metrics around the Sales Team?
To this question, Jeremy said it is easy for the businesses to get trapped in the sales metrics, such as leads generated, revenue, number of deals closed, final results delivered, etc. However, the greatest metric to consider around the sales team should be the quality of managing activities, as this would result in more sales and more ROI. He added that if a sales representative thinks that sales are a high-pressure job, he is probably doing it wrong. In the current digital scenario, if you pressurize buyers to close the deal within a certain time, it will backfire. If a customer is not comfortable deciding for even six months, your sales representatives should be ready to follow up after five to six months. The most important metric to measure is your efforts and what you do today that you can control.
How to create the Right Content with Multiple Decision-Makers involved?
Ken asked the panel of experts how businesses can create content that targets multiple decision-makers? To this, Jeremy added that the content should be highly customized and targeted to a specific buyer and his/her needs. With so much information available online about everything, your customers would probably have access to more content than you can provide them. Hence, the prospecting and marketing content should be customer-centric and highly customized to their needs. When you have customized content for your customer, you can share the content with different decision-makers. The content should be focused on explaining how your product/service can provide a better solution to their problem.
Value of Employee Experience
Art said, while focusing on customer experience, businesses usually forget the value of employee experience and how the employee is important throughout the sales process. While we are teaching the buyers how to buy, the sales representatives are the marketers of the company, and they should be effective communicators and representatives of the brand. He said employee experience is an important factor in providing a great customer experience.
The research has shown that employee experience is more important than ever. With the workforce operating remotely during and after the pandemic, companies that invest in better employee experience and train their employees on how to engage with the customer will be able to leverage the technology. Such businesses would not be impaired by working remotely. The employees who get a better working experience in the office or while working remotely will deliver a better customer experience, resulting in better ROI and business growth.
Why do Businesses need to focus on Customer Experience?
Customer experience is an important aspect that businesses always need to look for contact business growth. Businesses should use a framework to evaluate the customer experience. According to Art, his company has worked with some businesses that have evaluated key pillars that influence customer experience. These pillars can be leadership readiness, use of technology, employee experience, emphasis on AI and cloud technology, business continuity, among others. Businesses can develop an assessment framework to evaluate themselves against that. Creating a plan will help them improve the customer experience.
In this discussion, the expert panels answered the questions from the audience about the changes that businesses need to make in these hard times. Ken also announced the topic for the next month for SMLA July 2021: Changes in Employee engagement, retention, and hiring. How challenging is the current scenario for businesses?
To listen to the recorded video of SMLA June 2021,click here.