A new world order seems to be emerging in the midst of the raging coronavirus. One of the most interesting outcomes of the new faceless contactless world is how enterprise sales are being conducted.
B2C Sales has been on an automation path for several years now. Earlier, if you wanted to order pizza, you’d walk into a pizza retail store, which then changed to dialing in a pizza - today we order on a food app. In the pre-covid world of B2B Sales, high maturity industries were rapidly shifting their method of sales from a field sales fleet on street driven model to an inside sales model ie selling over telephony or through video apps like zoom.
In the US, pre covid the inside sales number was as high as 50% of all sales, with 2.8 million sales folks engaged in it. Industries adopting the phone/ video sales model were typically technology selling (lends itself to demoing software over the internet over a zoom call pretty well), banking financial services, edtech, hospitality, etc. However, the long extended lockdowns due to Covid has necessitated even traditionally field sales industries such as pharma, relationship banking and private wealth management, IT hardware etc to rapidly adopt the inside sales model.
How can traditional field sales industries adapt rapidly to the new world of contactless faceless selling? Here are some top tips:
- Training: Your team that was previously selling 1:1 inside offices of your customers will now need to do the same internally. While there are significant inherent benefits of low T&E, better health for your staff due to reduced travel and food from the streets, it will be harder to stay on top of recall in the minds of customers. In the regular world, several sales leaders train through a watch and learn model, where the leaders attempt to replicate their behaviour patterns or winning sales strategies to the rest of the team. In the post covid world, it would be important to invest in deep training interventions which can now be done remotely, through mentoring on calls, recording successful calls/ videos and replaying the same to the broader team.
- The Pitch: At Salesken, we work across a wide range of B2B customers and find that in most cases, there isn't sufficient hygiene around sales conversation materials. We find that most sales teams do not actually maintain detailed objection rebuttals, details of USP, product features, discounts permissible on pricing etc. Consequently there is a wide chasm between product realities and what is pitched by the sales team. Often we find less than 10% of the sales team actually mentions all the key USPs identified by the product team to be so. Covid requires system hygiene around production of documented materials and systemic dissemination so that the whole team is on the same page.
- Relationship handling: Sales executives selling to customers or enterprises understand waiting. The days when one would wait for hours outside offices of potential leads for a face to face meeting long over. Wining and dining are no longer ways to build relationships with customers. In a contactless world, personalisation of a conversation gets more difficult. Some quick tools to improve this would be to connect with potential leads on whatsapp, slack or any other online group where engagement can be created. You could also formalise the relationship by inviting key customers to speak on online webinars on related issues - earlier, it would be difficult to get potential customers to events but in the post covid world, attendance for online events is only a click away.
- Tooling: Building the right set of tools is fairly critical to run an inside sales or telesales motions. At minimum, the tools you need are:
a) Cloud telephony that allows you to record and monitor the calls
b) CRM software
c) Conversation ai tools such as Salesken that provide you complete call visibility without actually listening to the calls and also cues your reps in real time on best call responses.
- Pricing and payments: Price negotiations and payments will need to be done virtually through bank transfers. Collection of checks from a customer's office is now left behind in a rear view mirror.
Overall, we encourage enterprises with field sales to think of inside selling as a huge opportunity - 1:1 access to senior leadership with customers, ability to engage through multiple online channels and stay always connected, reduction in T&E cost with better health for sales staff and an enhanced role of marketing in the sales funnel.