Written by Kaysi K. Curtin
“Get into sales. You’ll make lots of money. It’s an easy gig!” Says the person whose sales career ended with a lemonade stand at age 7. Anyone responsible for generating new revenue and growing the company’s profit so everyone gets their Christmas bonus knows the pressures that come with the job. Sadly enough, many companies didn’t give out end-of-the-year bonuses, afraid of what 2021 has in store. Although a career in sales can be highly lucrative, it isn’t for the faint of heart and 2020 didn’t exactly throw us a bone.
Today, virtual selling is no longer a nice alternative option. It is the only option as many of us are working from home with no other means to stay connected. Which is why, “You’re on mute!” has been the catch phrase for 2020. Face-to-face meetings have moved to virtual meetings and in most cases, to phone meetings. Our process for getting in front of new prospects has changed whether we like it or not. Although virtual selling has been embraced in some industries for years, there are a variety of misconceptions about it, leading many to resist the approach.
Arguments I hear when it comes to virtual selling, especially pertaining to servicing our robust agricultural community, include “Our prospects are relationship based. If we don’t meet with them face-to-face there would be a decline in our closing rate.” They also claim that their customer base just isn’t familiar enough with the technology needed to conduct the entire sales process virtually. These misconceptions have also served as a justification, providing a reason to feed into our own insecurities about using video in the sales process.
As salespeople, much of what we do drives the profits of the business. Landscapes have changed. Consumers and their behaviors and/or preferences have changed. As a result, we’ve always needed to pivot and modify our approach in order to serve our customers. Covid-19 is just another opportunity for us to adjust and grow. Prospects today are looking for leaders. They’re looking to you for guidance and to steer them through your sales process, assuming you have one. If you allow your comfort zone to stand in the way of evolving, then you cannot continue to deliver on the commitments to those you serve.
Even before Covid, using video to sell was on the rise. And though the pandemic certainly accelerated the need for an alternate sales approach, video would have only continued to become more prevalent, virus or not. While the fundamentals of selling aren’t different in a virtual setting, the dynamics are, which may be why many salespeople are struggling to adapt.
So here you are in the saddle and ready to take on the New Year. You know that waiting around for things to go back to normal is long gone and adapting to a virtual process will only help you hit your 2021 sales goals. Yet there are some things you’re still struggling with like prospecting effectively in today’s highly digital word. Or maybe you aren’t closing at the rate you should and saying it’s this new digital environment that is causing you to have a longer sales cycle.
If the fundamentals of selling have not changed why are salespeople struggling to adapt to these new dynamics? Or are they? Remember that it’s not WHAT you’re doing that changes, it’s HOW you’re doing it. Which leads me to my next point, as if salespeople weren’t already having a difficult enough time. If your sales process remains the same and you’ve adapted it to a virtual environment, yet you’re still struggling to close deals … is it possible your process may be flawed? Perhaps you didn’t have an effective process to begin with, which is not uncommon and something I see often.
In times of crisis, in this case COVID-19, weakness isn’t created. It’s exposed.
Eventually, we’ll remember to take ourselves off mute when we speak in a virtual setting — and eventually, we’ll see that nearly all of the sales struggles we face today were there the whole time. Only now, these problems are more luminous than before.
Kaysi K. Curtin is president and owner of Sandler Training for the Fresno market. For more information, visit www.kcurtin.sandler.com.