The first is, the "F" word, that's right, FREE. Why talk about free when instead you could talk about non-chargeable or something that's at no cost to yourself. Doesn't that sound more compelling?
I also hate the "D" word, you got it, discount. Why talk about discounts, when instead you can talk about packages and building value?
More recently, I also really hate the "C" word, that's right, COVID, but there's no getting away from it right now! So let's talk about how you can continue to build your sales all the way through the current COVID lockdown and beyond.
Let's be honest, there are constantly changes to the business landscape
I believe there's 3 key things that we need to take account of in order to continue to be successful.
1. Customer Needs
This is all about the fact that things have changed and therefore what our customers need or feel important has changed along with that.
The problem that your product or service is actually solving either no longer exists or exists in a different format. So we need to think about how am I going to flex and position ourselves to meet these needs. The first thing is we need to consider our product. Is our product still meeting one of those needs?
The Brewdog Example
A great example of a business flexing their products can be seen in people like BrewDog. They realized that demand from their breweries is gonna go down as soon as they went into lockdown. So they took a hard look at what they could actually do. And that was where BrewDog hand sanitizer was born. And in fact, not only did they fulfill a real need within their business, they really captured some the public zeitgeist; the mood, you know, "we're Britain, and we can get through this". People really got behind that. They've gone on to rebrand some of their beer, that's right, there is a one called Barnard Castle now. Makes your eyes go funny! As a result, they've not felt the impact that some of their competitors have. The key thing was, they assessed how their product could fulfill a need. And if it couldn't, how they could flex their assets to create something that would answer that need directly.
It may be that your product or service actually still fulfills a customer need. And actually I think for a lot of people, what we're offering is still completely valid. The only thing is, is that where we need to put the emphasis or how we need to position it, needs to change.
One of the clients that I was working with at the beginning of lockdown was offering ongoing marketing services and marketing support. Understandably, as we went into lock down, a lot of their clients were thinking, "we don't need this anymore". It would have been really easy to press the pause button on that business and wait it out. What that business actually did was come up with a COVID package. They recognized that businesses do still need to market, just because they've laid off their marketing teams doesn't mean they don't still need a presence. It just means they don't need as much of that marketing support. They produced a package to support businesses who laid off their marketing team and said, "Look, you know what? We understand you don't need some full time people doing this right now but we can step in. We can keep your presence alive. We can keep your accounts going, and make sure that your prospects and customers are still seeing you." Just by repackaging their services, they were able to capture a whole new part of the market. And not just that, they were able to fulfill a new need that their prospects had. And even if you don't need to change your product and you don't need to flex your product or service, you might just want to change how you're presenting yourself.
All of a sudden, it's about being safe
So if you want to sell more right now, start by assessing your current prospect's needs, and how you can answer them.
The second thing is attitude or mood. Guess what? People aren't all feeling super positive right now. So we need to match, mirror, and show our prospects and customers that we really do care and that we really do get it.
"How are you finding working from home?"
Now, just because I'm suggesting you don't use that language doesn't mean that you should completely ignore it. Because that makes you look like you're stupid. Onee of the things that I know we've had great success with is been about changing that opening. Instead of when you're starting to talk to people, start to say, "Oh, how are you coping?", "How are you managing with COVID?", "Oh, it's terrible, isn't it?" And starting on those conversations, instead why not reposition; acknowledge the situation but take the emotion out of it. A great line we've been using is, "How are you finding working from home?" What's really nice is it acknowledges the change in the environment that we're all working in, without bringing up all that emotion. The other great thing, and especially if you're a B to B business is, that's opening a conversation about how they're currently operating as a business. Ding, ding, ding!
You're now finding out key information that can be helpful to you as you progress that sales opportunity. Think about your language and the questions that you're using.
The other thing to think about of course, is that when we're coming to do sales work ourselves we actually need to be in the right place and in the right frame of mind, because remember we want to be happy, upbeat, excited about talking about our products and services. If you have a call scheduled, and you're feeling really down, that is going to come across.
There are a few key tips that you can take whether you're working at home or if you're still in the office, that can really help your sales success.
- Plan your sales time. Or you can spend an hour, two hours, three hours in a given day on sales work. If you're a sales person, what sales work are you gonna do and when? I always really recommend batching things together, get your prospect calls in one pot, get your own existing customer contact somewhere else. So on and so forth. That's really helpful because it breaks up the day and it breaks up your mood.
- If it's in the diary, you really should do it. So you can see it coming. And then you can plan to get yourself in the mood. When we're coming to do sales work ourselves, we actually need to be in the right place, and in the right frame of mind, because remember we want to be happy, upbeat, excited about talking about our products and services.
- Give yourself a bit of a target and a bit of a mood boost. So how do you do that? I would always recommend you sit down and set some key targets. That might be about the number of people you talk to. It might be about the number of people that you present your product or service to. But set a couple of targets. And those targets aren't always to sell something., because, as we all know, sales is a process. It would be amazing if we picked up the phone and made one phone call and then they bought, but in reality, people take a little bit more time to get to know us and to understand exactly the value that we can offer them before they make that decision. So make sure that you're targeting on some of those steps in the process. So you are successful every time you sit down to sell.
- Sales music - music to sell to. That's really just getting some like, really jazzy tunes, add a little bit of a boost to your mood, get some music you love that gets you excited have a dance around the room, do whatever you like, but you know what, getting that mood up, getting those endorphins going can be super helpful.
- Other old tricks out there that can help are things like standing up when you're making calls, taking power poses to make sure that you've got all the right testosterone and confidence rushing around your body.
3. Route To Market
The third thing is all about route to market. If you normally sell face to face then that's probably changed as you've moved online. Similarly, if you're ringing people, you may find that people aren't always there to pick up the phone because of furlough.
It's all changed. All of a sudden events are online. We can't go face to face in someone's office. Driving up and down the country to go and do a sales demo all of a sudden, just isn't a thing. Some people are no longer picking up the phone because they've been furloughed. Business structures have changed. Exactly how we sell, and that route to market has changed. That means we need to think about how are we going to contact our prospects, and how are we gonna start to bring them into our sales funnel?
What does our sales funnel even look like?
Well, some of the businesses that I've been working with, have been having great success with some of those old staples, like webinars. Who knew, but actually a compelling, online event can be super helpful as long as it's interesting, high energy and is not just about sales. Free events and things that offer no value, are things that people still don't have time for. You should also be thinking about great online meetings, this might be Teams, Zoom, Google, whatever. But you and your service team should be equipped to have the very best quality meetings at the drop of a hat. Yet, people are still making key mistakes. Just a few things can really raise the professionalism of the conversations that you're having in these environments.
- Make sure you show up on time
- Make sure you're wearing headphones with a mic on to minimize background noise which can be so distracting.
- Make sure you've got your kit ready to go. You know, if you're gonna show software, make sure you're ready to share the screen, and the screens on the right page. This is like sales 101.
- Do your prep.
Not everything has to be online. One of the clients I've been talking to recently has had amazing success with leaflets of all things. That's right, they've gone out and they've actually leafleted their local area. What's been really helpful about that, is that they're a Business to Consumer organization. In doing so, they've talked to loads of people because people around the houses at the moment, and because she was doing this for her own business, every one of those conversations was a fantastic sales opportunity. And you know what? People really appreciated the fact that it was a person there, actually bringing some information personally to them about their own business rather than like a marketing company doing a leaflet drop which can be really anonymous.
Think about how you can be a bit different!
So! What are the key things to think about? I think the first thing is to drop the "C" word and start being more successful with our sales, which let's be honest is what we all want. Don't let it be an excuse. There's always something that we can do, and there's always a way we can progress.
Remember to be flexible. You can be flexible about your product, about the way you present it. It might be that you package up what you deliver a little bit differently. But listen to your customers, listen to your prospects. What do they need from you right now? And how can you deliver that for them?
The other thing is really, to give yourself the space to be successful at sales. You need to carve out a little bit of your day, all day, every day, in which you're gonna sell or undertake some sales activity. So think about your plan, think about your targets and celebrate that success.
You know what? Sometimes right now it's a success just to get to speak to the right person. So pat yourself on the back, and really think about your route to market. You can't ignore the fact that things have changed. So does your route to market need to change? It's amazing the number of people now across on LinkedIn, it's one of the most active socials out there, purely because so many people have shifted their selling activity across to there.
So how could you change your route to be more successful?