Among the practices that manufacturers have had to modify to please the COVID gods, some may actually evolve into paradigm-shifting improvements. One of them might be the old-fashioned across-the-desk sales call.
Organizations have traditionally invested significant time and treasure to situate their salespeople across the desk from current or prospective customers where they can add their interpersonal sales skills to portray their widgets in the best possible light. Some say the constraints of COVID relegated the sales meeting to the soul-less imagery of a computer monitor. The Zoom call.
There were certain built-in efficiencies. With no travel time, a salesperson could lock in maybe a half-dozen calls in the same workday that they would spend their time driving or flying to get to a single appointment.
But sales purists said (and still do) that salesperson is far more than a mere order taker. A salesperson on a Zoom call, they say, has no more impact on that sale than if they were watching a TV program about a sales call. How can they possibly read the room? How can they deploy their sales charisma to lock into the customer’s eyes and describe their widget in ways that matter on their terms? How can they read body language movements that often help direct the course of a sales call as much as any words in the exchange?
The “old school” arguments made sense to me until I watched a presentation (via Zoom!) given by Steve Haarstad, one of our top consultants. Knocking convention wisdom on its head, Steve reported that customers actually prefer digital or self-service sales transactions. Citing an article in McKinsey, he said only 20% of businesses hope to return to in-person selling. That means that 80% of business-to-business buyers now prefer a digital or self-service sales transaction. “This change of buying and selling mindset warrants a change in the approach businesses communicate and sell their product — or service — without diminishing the effectiveness of the communication and selling process,” he said.
His message was so compelling that we asked him to turn it into a magazine article, which he did for the fall issue of Enterprise Minnesota® magazine. It’s a good read. I highly recommend it. Read the article here.
The key to succeeding in this new environment, he says, is to change the process of selling without sacrificing your company’s core values or the personal connection with customers.
“Even though the way we connect with our customers has changed, the foundational keys to profitable growth haven’t changed,” he says.
It still comes down to identifying the right customer, presenting the correct message, and delivering the right value. What really connects all three factors is value (both delivered and received).
Steve’s main point is that the way we connect might be changing, but we can’t lose the connections with our customers. The message and the keys to profitable growth are the same, we just can’t lose the message or the goals along the line.
That’s an important message, and an interesting way of looking at an issue that isn’t going away.
Steve will present another workshop on business strategy Dec. 14. The free workshop will be available via Zoom. Learn more and register for this workshop on our website.
October 21 – Investing In Your People to Create Leaders At All Levels
Talent and leadership development expert Abbey Hellickson will be demonstrating why leadership development is critical in today’s environment and how to determine key competencies for your organization . Online via Zoom Learn more and register
November 10 – State of Manufacturing® survey release event
The State of Manufacturing 2021 will be an excellent opportunity to celebrate Minnesota’s manufacturing industry with hundreds of your fellow manufacturers and all who work in support of the industry. Learn more and register to attend.
November 18 – Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement
Expert Ally Johnston will show you how small daily improvements can add significant value by compounding over time and how employee engagement is key to CI and overall employee retention. Online via Zoom Learn more and register
December 14 – Strategic Planning for Manufacturers
Strategy and Revenue Growth expert Steve Haarstad will demonstrate ways to approach strategic planning for the short and long term and why strategic planning shouldn’t be solely for the CEO. Online via Zoom Learn more and register
See more upcoming events
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