In any crisis, being able to continue to make sales and keep a business afloat is hugely challenging. How can your business adapt to the new normal of video meetings, the shift to digitising storefronts, and government-mandated restrictions on physical store operations?
The pandemic has caused a shift in the way the world does business. Millions of Australians are now navigating through what it means to virtually sell products while working from home, making a digital-first mindset more critical than ever before. We’ve put together our top five tips to help you make the change, so your business can adapt and thrive in the next normal.
Lead with empathy
Right now, when speaking with your customers, your tone is everything. Use your emotional intelligence to ensure every message you send out is appropriate. Take a walk in your customer’s shoes. Be sensitive. Empathy is crucial when so many Australians are doing it tough. Adjust your tone to suit the climate. Identify common ground and look for shared experiences. Consider how you can respond in a way that makes sense for your customer. Avoid generic ‘we’re here for you’ messaging and be specific.
Focus on your customers’ wellbeing rather than your products. What are their pain points and needs? How can you help? Even in the most challenging of circumstances, charting a path to growth is possible. What are your vision and values? How do these correspond to your customer’s needs? What are the obstacles, and how will you overcome them? Make a plan. Manage the conversation and tailor your messaging to suit your client. The more you put yourself in the mindset of your customer, the better equipped you will be able to identify their concerns.
Speaking from her experience, Para Mobility general manager Sally Farrow said taking control and making a plan to move forward was essential at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the pandemic began to spread, one of the first things the business did was go through its customer records and production data to understand and prioritise customer needs. As an example, if the team saw that a customer was facing isolation with just one carer, they could quickly assess the need for a lift would be urgent. On the other hand, production and delivery of equipment to facilities still under construction could wait.
“There was such uncertainty in the early days, but we had people relying on us and waiting for life-changing technologies. So, we had to keep moving forward and take control of what we could control,” said Farrow.
Video conferencing is your friend
If you’re a salesperson that depended on getting up close and personal with customers and prospects, then you may find the current climate challenging. The good news is you can still make those connections with your customers. You simply need to adopt a different set of tools.
The first thing you will have to master is the art of video conferencing. Video conferencing tools have blown up over the last few months. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t had a video meetup. These tools allow you to maintain that personal touch without having to be in the same room as your clients. However, just because you have experienced video conferencing doesn’t mean you are making the most of this platform. To create the same connection with your staff and clients as you would in a face-to-face meeting, you need to spend a bit of time prepping.
Optimising your home set up and adopting Salesforce’s CLASSY framework will allow you to represent yourself in the best possible way. This simple acronym will help you remember the steps to set up your video conference like a pro. C is for the camera, L is for lights, A is for Audio, S is for set up and stage and Y is for you. You can get a full breakdown of how to use the CLASSY framework and download the CLASSY tip sheet here.
A few essential video conferencing etiquettes to remember:
- Keep good eye contact, be sure to set up your camera at eye level or slightly above.
- If in a meeting with multiple participants, address the camera rather than individuals.
- Use a headset and microphone if possible, to ensure optimum audio quality. Your phone earbuds and mic will work fine.
- Mute your mic when not speaking and remember to check your background before going live.
Get creative with social selling
Many of today’s customers are already digitally savvy. So, reaching out through digital channels should be your first port of call. Social selling was already incredibly popular before the pandemic. Now with many physical stores in hibernation due to restrictions, social has become an essential sales and marketing tool. However, getting cut through in this noisy environment can be challenging. So, get creative.
Rather than just pushing products, consider how you can use your social channels to inspire and guide your customers. What solutions can you offer? How can you best address their needs? Try to add value at every touchpoint.
Small business expert and Sunrise host, David Koch, says the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the nation’s business owners has been undeniable. Providing them with assistance became imperative for his media company.
“At Kochie’s Business Builders we knew our audience was doing it tough,” says Koch. “So, we put together our initiative Small Business First. Our main aim was to help Australia’s business owners survive and thrive during the crisis. To help them connect with other businesses, get advice from experts and get their products and services out to the rest of the country.”
Reach out to your customers
Just because you can’t see someone in person, doesn’t mean you can’t make a meaningful connection with them. If you have an existing pipeline and good relationships with your customers, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. The caveat: if you’ve been radio silent for some time, now may not be the right time to be reaching out, as you could come off as opportunistic or insincere.
But what if you have no pipeline? Finding time to bring in a steady flow of new customers can be quite the challenge for a small business sales team at the best of times. A CRM allows sales reps to store the data on prospects, so the information’s ready for action at any moment. A CRM will help you build your pipeline even during a crisis. A functional CRM is your best friend at a time like this. It can guide your decisions, allowing you to review your relationships and track your leads. Plus, your CRM will provide metrics to aid in visibility across your entire business and assist you with forecasting.
Building a successful CRM system isn’t just about choosing the right technology. You also need the right plan in place to develop a strategy that will help your business succeed.
According to Damian Martina, Head of Sales and Marketing at social media archiving service, ‘Brolly’, using a CRM allows the company to personalise the customer journey easily.
“By bringing all of our customer information together in one place, Salesforce allows us to be a lot smarter about how we engage with our customers and personalise their experience, our messaging and engagement. It also gives us the ability to work more efficiently, which is important for any business in the scale-up phase.”
Brush up on your sales skills
Rising to new challenges and discovering new ways of doing things has led many people to exploring how to gain new skills. There are plenty of short courses around which can help you gain new skills or brush up on existing ones. Salesforce Trailhead offers courses that will help you improve your sales skills from lead qualifications to social selling tips.
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