Smart working and sales are irreconcilable?
Many addressed us discussing funny stories as well as little (and big) frustrations. Do we believe that the sales team will quickly adapt to smart working? Yes. Do we believe that smart working and sales are incompatible and opposed? Not really!
As long as we execute some adjustments.
Otherwise, time will pass, and we will miss this chance to make an improvement in the process of professional as well as personal growth.
Let’s not be fooled by the amount of time we have available because the tendency to procrastinate is always very strong.
Did we want to learn a new language or read a book that has been on the bedside table for a long time?
Or maybe learn to use that software that we know we don’t really know how to use?
Why didn’t we do it in these past times?
Because our natural tendency to procrastinate is stronger than our motivation to act?
Because motivation is unreliable and moments of highs motive alternate with times of lows.
Motivation will not help us increase productivity.
Do we want to reach our full potential by working from home?
Motivation will not help us.
We need more than that.
Here are some crucial points about smart working
Locate your Key Activities
Every day we carry out an unspecified number of activities. Not all actions, however, have the same value and meaning. And, not all activities bring us closer to achieving our business goals. We are often involved in activities that take up our time.
It is very important to learn to recognize what activities if done every day, would get our business off the ground.
Some of the activities we do are buffer activities, which we do to avoid activities we don’t like to do.
Looking for new contacts, for example, is one of the activities that many people try to avoid but which we know are fundamental to achieving our goals.
Contacting them by phone, or writing them a presentation, is another uncomfortable activity for many but fundamental to our business.
As a first step, we identify key activities for our business and limit distractions as much as possible.
Create a routine
Distraction is a hard habit to avoid working from home. Especially if we’re not used to it.
The great news is that it can be replaced with new, more effective, and better practices for our professional future.
Let’s think about it:
- Should we check our smartphone right after we wake up?
- Do we visit Linkedin or Facebook as soon as possible?
- Or, do we tend to get distracted when we have to face the activity that we really don’t like to do?
These are automatic behaviors that have taken root over time that prevent us from focusing on the most productive activities.
Current circumstances are changing habitual behaviors, but it is important to create routines that help us stay focused and productive.
What is the routine? A routine is a process that, when applied, creates and strengthens our habits.
We all adopt repetitive patterns of behavior.
For me, my work routine at home consists of 50-minute blocks of time per activity, alternating with 10-minute breaks. This allows me to focus the attention on only one activity at a time. Through the block method, I avoid doing things in multitasking because it is the worst enemy of productivity.
I’ve learned to develop the ability to work at maximum effectiveness levels for limited time intervals (50 minutes), and then completely detach in the breaks (10 minutes).
Detaching from work
Working from home is not like working in an office, and many people are tempted to work all the time because the place of work coincides with where they live. Interrupt work, disconnect from activities Once finished, it allows us to change roles without exhausting or wearing out our well being.
Just as we set time blocks for key activities of a professional nature, we need to recognize what the key events of personal life are and know how to respect them by dedicating as much time as necessary to them.
What absolutely not to do during the breaks:
- We don’t reply to emails;
- We don’t read messages on our smartphone;
- We don’t socialize;
- We don’t take our lunch break at our desk;
- We don’t keep thinking about what to do.
Breaks are real breaks that need to be used to reset our concept.
We could have a chat with a friend, get some exercise, have a coffee, drink a glass of water or stretch.
Keep a professional profile
Let’s not fall into the temptation to work in smart working by dressing differently than before. We maintain a professional profile because this helps us to shape our minds.
I have witnessed in these days many videoconferences with entrepreneurs who have been able to maintain a high professional level despite being in their homes.
It’s a problem of comprehending how to manage the role even in a private context. Let’s not let the medium mislead us. We are indeed at home, and it is equally true that we are working from home. But, we have a role, and we want to play it at a high level.
Find out how to use remote work to create Trust and Familiarity.
Building a relationship of familiarity and trust is essential to create, manage and develop a negotiation file always full of opportunities.
How do you gain a pleasing level of familiarity and trust?
Until now, our ability to gain trust and create the ideal level of familiarity required several meetings with our contact.
This could happen, of course, over a fairly long period. The cycles of meetings were rather rarefied and, often, with cadences that were difficult to predict.
Now comes the question that worries many salesmen: are those days over?
This question does not make us sleep at night and is our biggest concern.
Are those days over?
Will we find our customers as we left them?
I’d like to go against the tide and say yes.
Since 2015, many international authors have been publishing books on the subject. You can find an entire library on these topics in this article of mine:
Many authors, as I said, write about the fact that “trust” must now be established online, i.e. before the physical encounter. They point out the obvious: people make decisions based on social proof in the form of reviews, recommendations, case studies, and testimonials.
The current acceleration, added to the digital maturity reached today, has made more evident what many authors have said on the subject of selling.
These considerations are based on clear facts.
But, I would like to go deeper because I would not want the speed at which things are happening to confuse us.
I start with a quote that I repeat in every event:
“What works online today is what has worked offline for the last 50 years.”
Simply put, it is not true that customers no longer need or want a business relationship mediated by a salesperson… but, they indeed want someone they can trust to help them solve their problem.
Let’s not fall into the misunderstanding (functional for those who sell inbound marketing platforms) that prospecting no longer works because people no longer want to be disturbed.
It is true, the fact that we are interrupted thousands of times a day, that our level of attention has dropped below that of a goldfish (7 seconds) and that nobody likes troublemakers.
I would point out, though, that digital marketing doesn’t seem to disturb us any less than a phone call, right?
The method, content, and frequency of the activity is a value that the customer has appreciated to date and will continue to welcome in the future.
The fact is that customers may now jump to conclusions about who they can trust or not based on what they find online.
This is a challenge we have to take up.
Our business, if done as before, will be less and less effective. But even digital activity alone will not bring any results.
So what should we do?
If you agree with what I’ve written so far, I invite you to do so.
Otherwise, digital players could really become a problem for both vendors and entrepreneurs.
Together we defend an extraordinary profession that has always accompanied the development and well-being of entrepreneurship, helping to develop new skills and sales models more suited to our time.
Here is the challenge: to acquire all the digital skills needed to bridge the gap that limits us in offering all-inclusive customer experience. Combining digital with the traditional method, integrating digital experience with physical experience, requires skills that we must and can quickly acquire.
We are living in a bubble that allows us to do so. We need some programming.
Why does it?
If all that has been addressed so far is not transparent, here is why.
For the customer, your reliability is a combination of your credibility, plus your reliability, plus your familiarity (with the customer) divided by your customer orientation.
How to apply this equation now? How to do this in both a physical and digital context?
The credibility of a salesman is crucial. Always has been. Customers need to know that we are experts in our field.
Otherwise, we will have difficulty getting them to listen to us. Besides, the benefits we can achieve are enormous. Our credibility is affirmed by others through social proof, which is what others say about us.
Let us start with the LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the social profile in which we have to appear credible. The profile must be complete and meaningful to customers.
You can monitor the quality of your profile by following this simple procedure:
Trust and Familiarity
Seriously, we need to be able to communicate (via the social media profiles, emails, chats, search engines) that we “could” be a potential resource for our customers to help them solve their difficulties.
We take that for granted. When I started selling online in 2010, I was immediately confronted with the consumer’s mistrust (especially when entering their credit card for online payment).
Many did not trust and feared online scams. Today, in some cases, the situation seems to have turned upside down. The transparency of the platforms reassures the customer who then trusts online transactions more and more.
So, if we are still at the point where I sell you an item at the price of 2.9 Usd and send you a different item completely (even if it looks like what you chose and you did not notice it) at the cost of 29 Usd (because you know you can be wrong to type the price)… let’s change quickly.
Reliability is all about keeping promises. Let’s not promise too much. Let’s not be late. Let’s spend some of our time doing research before contacting the customer, and we will see our positioning improve. If, then, we are also jaguars of persuasion all the better.
What about digital channels? How does that change the situation? One word: consistency. The physical channel and the digital channel must be consistent. It bothers me when I can’t replace a product bought online in a shop. It bothers me, and I feel certain… inconsistency.
I give this example, to explain that for a customer, digital and physical create a unicum that dresses our face.
Also, consider that digital speeds up communication for better or for worse. So, if you hit the client with a comfortable feeling of trust, you will enjoy the benefits. They’ll start calling you, and you’ll do business. You can give advice, get confirmation, testimonials, and reviews online.
But if the experience is unsatisfactory, if you don’t live up to your promises and offer a bad shopping experience, then digital could damage you and the image of the company you represent.
Familiarity is established over time as a result of the regular frequency of contacts. Over time, trust develops based on confidentiality and the quality of the relationship. We can estimate the status of our connection when the client shares information with us that they do not share with others.
How do we develop a good level of familiarity from the beginning, when the relationship is born and grows on digital channels?
The frequency of contacts and availability to the customer will allow us to demonstrate our willingness to be open and transparent.
To get the most out of a list of clients, we need to get in touch with each of them every week.
This is one of the multiple benefits of digital channels. While it is true that they cannot replace the human relationship, it is equally true that they can amplify our presence by increasing our visibility.
How to do this? We can do it through a combination of online and offline methods: personal visit, phone, email, Facebook, Telegram, Whatsapp, videomail, Linkedin email, Messenger, Instagram Direct, Chat, video sharing (Vimeo, youTube, IGTV). Our goal is to establish familiarity with contact through maximum visibility.
That’s the only denominator in David H. Maister’s trust equation.
The implied question that every customer asks when talking to a salesman is: What is the core? What are you getting at?
Remember that distrust reigns supreme, at least until a relationship of familiarity and trust has been established.
Until then, for the customer, we will only be salesmen who chase a sale and who are prepared to do anything to earn it.
So how do we change their perception of us?
By showing that we are truly aligned with the principle:
Your success is tied to the success of the customer.
If our intention is to sincerely help the contact to succeed, we will become an excellent ally for him.
So let’s ask ourselves, how can we create value for the customer?
What are the topics that can help us generate valuable ideas for the customer? I propose a simple exercise that will become automatic over time.
How can you help the customer reduce costs while maintaining efficiency?
Could you use the best ideas you have seen on the market to help the customer?
What are the best habits of other customers you could adopt in your company?
How do their competitors operate?
Provoke, show different ways of working.
Once again, this is where your authority comes into play. Digital channels can help you to be perceived by the client as an expert and willingly accept your advice.
The perception of authority is closely linked to the customer’s perception of trust.
Companies that do not take care of this aspect make life very difficult for their sellers.
The traditional method alone does not work, and digital channels alone do not work. A combined approach of the two ways is needed. This, however, means that the strategic part must be taken care of first and then the operational part.
Therefore, the next steps will be to create an affordable and effective:
Creating a certain new sales model using both methods,
Incorporating the best technology for the purpose into the process,
Training your vendors in the implementation of the process and technology to be adopted,
Accompany your salesmen along the digital transformation path of certain activities.