I’ve been saying for almost 12 months that virtual selling and remote work is the wave of the future. I’ve also predicted that few people will go back to the office to work — which as you know will greatly affect your ability to sell copiers.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’m prepared to say that I was wrong with my prediction on how few people will come back to the office because some major corporations have announced a back-to–the-office policy. Companies like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and T. Rowe Price are announcing policies, and predictably, so are large commercial property firms. Any company with an interest in commercial real estate, office space and financing encourages everyone to come back to the cubicle.
This is counter to what happened over the last 12 months. Revenues for companies that operated during the pandemic went through the roof. Productivity for work-from-home employees increased by double digits. Employees were happier, reconnected with their family, ate fewer cold dinners, and never missed a soccer game.
However, this didn’t bode well for people who make a living renting office space, running parking lots, or selling copiers.
People will be coming back to the office, but does this mean they will be buying more copiers?
Probably not. But the gift of the last year is the following: you now can utilize basic sales education to increase your business. The old ways will work.
In addition to talking about virtual selling, I’ve had conversations with salespeople across the country who are successful through the pandemic. The secret of their success is universal – hard work, honesty, and perseverance.
They also tell me that Zoom sessions work.
Here are six recommendations from across the realm:
- Use the phone
- Use email
- Work with your existing client base first
- Be ready for virtual appointments
- Follow up continuously
- Be grateful
Use the phone
You know this to be true. The phone is your best friend. Call your prospects and call your customers. Leave voice mail. Be authentic. Track dials, conversations, appointments, and left voicemails. Have your voicemail message scripted. Your voicemail should be consistent and identical to your elevator pitch.
You probably already know this as well: decision-makers use email, especially after the pandemic.
But here’s the challenge with email: you must be interesting, and the interest starts at the subject line. Mass emails don’t work because they are not interesting. Furthermore, more people are using email to reach prospects and your customers. Your competition for the inbox is intense.
Here are some email rules I’ve seen work in the field:
- Make it personally relevant to whoever you’re sending it to. For example, include a first name and the point of your note.
- Keep it short. Try something like this in your opening statement: “Hello, I saw your profile on LinkedIn and did some quick checking. I believe we can work together to solve some business problems. Are you open to a conversation? “
- Ask for something. As with any sales conversation you’re asking to move to the next step. In this case, the next step is either a face-to-face or screen-to-screen meeting. Try something like this, “I’ve worked with HVAC companies in the area and have helped them increase sales and revenue. I’d like to explore the possibilities of doing the same for you. Can we get together next Wednesday at 7:30 am, or on a brief Zoom call? “
- Be OK with any outcome
Do not be emotionally attached to the outcome of your call. The best regard cold calling as a process, not a personal journey. Do you keep track of your contacts and keep track of your appointments? That’s all you need to do. Hash marks, not a piece of paper.
Be ready for virtual appointments
For cold calls or with existing customers, be prepared to move to a virtual meeting right then and there. You can shorten the sales cycle if you have your platform up and ready. Give your prospect the Zoom room number and move to a more detailed session. I’ve seen this happen. You go from an intro to a demo to a close in one call.
It is possible.
Follow up continuously
As we recover from the pandemic fear, human contact means more. Today, following up takes on a whole new meaning. Yet these follow-up messages must be relevant. We cannot send empty “just touching base” messages. We are authentic.
The new way to follow up is to offer relevant information in the form of one or two sentences and a link to an outside resource. This type of follow-up is more demanding yet impactful for your prospects.
Especially after the pandemic, we should all be grateful for what we have. The gift of the last year in terms of sales and selling is our recognition that, for decades we weren’t doing what we were told to do. Even worse, we weren’t doing what we said we were doing. Today in a post-pandemic environment, we’ve got to look back at what we were taught and execute those themes, philosophies, and tools: Consultative selling, authenticity, partnering with your prospect as a shoulder-to-shoulder pier. No manipulation, complete collaboration, and most of all, gratitude for being right where are, no matter where we are.