By Krishna C. Kalva
It is extremely disheartening to see the suffering the world is going through now due to COVID-19. Everybody is impacted and eagerly waiting for this to end; however, there are some positive outcomes from this experience: Organizations are doing their best to stay operational, profitable and continuing to keep their workforce employable. The aim is to continue to develop the touch points with customers using creative virtual techniques, and sales professionals play a key role in achieving this. It is widely believed that organizations have fast-forwarded their digitalization strategies.
“Virtual” as mentioned above is suggested as the new normal by having to maintain social distancing. Learning & development teams are expected to identify innovative methods to upskill the learner/sales professional on how to keep their customers virtually engaged. The idea is to transform customer-facing sales force into storytellers and put them in the driver seat to create and sell value, promoting solutions in closing a deal.
This transformation involves changes in mindset, encouragement of new & innovative techniques, leveraging technology and choosing an attitude to meet the customer expectations. A key contributor here is the awareness of new business techniques that foster a culture of continuous improvement.
Many leading organizations across industries are on this journey of digital necessity to explore and transform themselves. The absence of in-person meetings is driving the necessity to conduct business virtually through the usage of technology and storytelling.
There is no denying the fact that in-person conversations are best for certain topics, especially where there is a need to create trust and dive deeper into the details. However, choosing the right skill & technique in critical discussions is helpful in closing a deal.
The basic idea of approaching a customer & offer a solution remains intact, however with an adapted approach. Factors like social media, limited attention span, etc. continue to pose a challenge and there is a hidden opportunity if these distractions are instead leveraged with the right selling techniques. The fundamental question “what’s in it for me?” remains powerful and needs to be clearly outlined to help the customer retain their attention.
A key success factor here is to identify the personal preferences and style of each customer and define a sales approach consisting of digital touch points to address their expectations. For example, a C-level customer who has limited time might be interested in value and profitability. An expert-level customer might be interested in the product details and features.
The learner must be offered coaching to identify and choose a technique that best addresses the customer needs. This coaching framework is inspirational consisting of tools and technologies, engaging content, methodologies, etc. that supports the learners across generations.
Drawing your attention back to the original idea, the aim is to transform sales professionals into storytellers with the specific skill to create and deliver a customer specific reality, tailored to each individual customer. It is crucial for learning & development teams to speak with their sales forces, understand their expectations, challenges and generate insights to facilitate discussions that addresses specific coaching needs in the transformation of sales into virtual selling skills. This will help learning & development teams to stay integrated in their organizations’ digitalization journey.
Krishna C. Kalva is learning solution manager at Siemens Healthineers. Email him at email@example.com.