For all the content generated about virtual sales over the last year, it seems few are teaching companies how to make a purchasing decision in this new realm. For decades, the “art” of selling has been taught to thousands of salespeople. Every company, from real estate, computer hardware, and software to luxury submersibles and automobiles incorporates some level of sales training. But other than learning spreadsheets and comparing pricing, few have put together a standard approach to purchasing in the virtual reality.
By now you’ve heard that today’s prospects learn more about what they want to purchase before engaging a salesperson. The internet is rife with data and studies revolving around every conceivable purchasing scenario, so it is natural for prospects looking to purchase a copier or CRM to seek and acquire information that was once only available via you.
From a recent McKinsey & Company study: “… self-serve and remote interactions have made it easier for buyers to get information, place orders, and arrange service, and customers have enjoyed that speed and convenience …” –
The results of this study do not strictly relate to your mother or father ordering coffee from Amazon. While once an arena for small ticket and short cycle purchasing, companies are now more comfortable initiating large ticket purchases online. The McKinsey & Company study found 70% of B2B decision makers are open to making self-serve or remote purchases in excess of $50,000.
How much do your business solutions cost?
“The most notable sign that digital sales have come of age is the comfort B2B buyers display in making large new purchases and reorders online. The prevailing wisdom used to be that e-commerce was mainly for smaller-ticket items and fast-moving parts. Not so anymore. Notably, 70 percent of B2B decision makers say they are open to making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases in excess of $50,000, and 27 percent would spend more than $500,000.” McKinsey & Company.
Here’s the rub: Our prospects have more sway over the selling cycle than ever before, and the remote/virtual environment only expands their control.
Think about it. The professional salesperson conducts an alleged “needs assessment” that naturally leads to the salesperson’s unique, highly regarded solution.
It is a proven technique.
But the age of COVID-19 has influenced an important part of OUR process, at least in the interim. If you have any evaluation step in your selling process, imagine your prospect performing that analysis internally, without you. I say again, what is keeping that small business down the street from evaluating their own requirements? Needs assessments templates are all over the internet. And if this happens, what is the next step in their decision process?
Ordering a solution, without you.
So, what to do? Here are a few points:
- The old standard, “Be in front of your prospects before they know what they need” couldn’t be more apropos. Establish your brand early, often, with panache and acumen and forward value to the prospect pool. Place video snippets inside emails.
- Educate your prospects for free. Put forward your authentic views of how you deliver real-world, positive business results. Illustrate how your customers made it through the Covid-19 crisis or talk about how YOU made it through. If you do participate in a selling class, share some tips with you prospects and customers – they sell stuff too. Use video, do not sell.
- Become an expert. Study and learn more about business. Here’s the deal and you know this already – invest in yourself along the lines of how business works. I know it may sound boring, but if you’re working with companies that make products, you should know a bit about the manufacturing process, inventory control, and product development. Have conversations and ask basic business questions in an effort to learn, not manipulate. Use video, do not sell.
- Give your prospects the tools they need to make a decision. Promote and make an evaluation template available for all your customers and prospects. Make it from you personally — do not brand any templates with anything other than your name and contact information. This may be counterintuitive, but if you utilize standard forms when performing a needs assessment, give them to your prospects. Let them utilize your toolset and ask them for input. Orient your prospects through video and Zoom sessions.
- Use video all the time. This is the biggest leverage point to come out of the Covid19 crisis: use video. Instead of asking for a good time to call, ask for a good time to meet in a Zoom. If you’re on the phone, ask them to go to an online session, invite them then and there, send the link while in the conversation. LinkedIn, newsletters, and blog posts are all vital channels, and video is the part you need to be proficient.
In case I haven’t made my point, let me stress again the importance of video presentations. Video must come second nature to you and be your normal, “go-to” mode of communication. We as an industry still fall far behind other industries when it comes to video/remote sales. I’ve been on dozens of web session over the past few months and not one could be considered new and video centric – they’ve been the same format and presentation quality as they were in 2018.
We must get better; we will be better. It is the way of things