This time it’s personal!
26th November 2021 | Iain Masson
In the bold new world of sales, a mental shift is required.
The pandemic turned the whole world upside down: it made us shift our priorities away from things that we once thought were important to new ways of working and living. As people switch careers and re-evaluate how they spend their time, naturally their behaviours have fundamentally changed. In the world of sales, this is no different.
The rapid shift to digital has meant many have adopted new sales methods by necessity, without the training required to utilise these innovative technologies effectively. According to Showpad’s 2021 Modern Selling Study, the biggest sales readiness challenge that sellers are facing is not having enough training to be successful. We have seen a rapid shift to video calling as a way of reaching potential buyers, which in some cases has resulted in so-called “Zoom burnout”. In the world of sales, we need to pivot to technologies that facilitate the process of reaching prospective buyers and ensure a frictionless experience for everyone involved.
In the past, the most effective way of reaching prospects might have been over the phone, or maybe even in person.
What behaviour do sales leaders need to be considered trustworthy? Above all, they need emotional intelligence, empathy and good communication skills.
But now, people have less time to spend on the phone making calls. Business travel has also been significantly reduced, and according to a recent Showpad poll, the majority of B2B sellers anticipate this will not resume anytime soon. In this modern selling environment, the option of developing in-person relationships with prospective buyers has been trimmed away, which some may consider a significant roadblock.
But there are also significant opportunities in the world of modern selling. How can we harness what we have learned about changing buyer preferences, and incorporate what is really important to them into our sales strategies? Simply adapting to new technologies is not enough; a real mental shift is required to achieve a seamless transition to the new virtual selling environment. Attitudes and behaviours must be adapted – this is the only way the needs of the modern buyer can be met.
There is strong evidence that buyers value different things than they used to: they want to deal with sellers who are empathetic to their needs, and value authentic interactions with people who understand their preferences. Impersonal sales interactions are a thing of the past, as new technologies allow for a degree of personalisation that enables a tailored customer experience unlike anything we have seen before.
The modern selling brain
The past 18 months have created chaos in many people’s lives: care is now one of the greatest commodities. In the shift to digital that inevitably occurred as a result of the pandemic, some personal relationships with customers have been lost, but this is something that we can change through modern selling technology.
It is more likely for a potential buyer to buy from those they trust, and of course this was true even before the pandemic. According to the LinkedIn Global State of Sales Report in 2020, 88 percent of B2B buyers stated they would only purchase from someone they trust. But what behaviour do sales leaders need to be considered trustworthy? Above all, they need emotional intelligence, empathy and good communication skills.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive and understand the needs and emotions of others, and then to be able to act accordingly. This goes hand in hand with empathy, which is the willingness and ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. In sales, both of these traits help to better understand the needs, problems and preferences of customers. This allows for a higher calibre of customer service and personalisation than you might otherwise have.
Good communication skills are what really sets one seller apart from another: they need to be a genuine people person. Empathy, emotional intelligence and good communication skills are hard to teach, but if all of these competencies come together, you have the recipe for a strong post-pandemic sales leader with the power to convey to the customer that they are being understood and listened to.
In addition to an empathetic mind, salespeople must shift their focus to cultivating true, authentic interactions with their prospective buyers. Empathy is the foundation of authenticity. What is the relationship between the two and why is this important for sales?
Prospective buyers want to speak to a real person, on their own terms. To be authentic, sellers have to demonstrate that they are being honest and true to their own personality and values. Buyers have a preference for dealing with people who have a unique personality, not impersonal interactions with strangers whom they perceive as having the sole motivation of making a sale.
Modern buyers consume much more media than ever before – whether that be games, social media or video – and they can spot someone who is lacking in authenticity. To cultivate authentic interactions in the digital world, modern sellers have to be able to utilise modern sales techniques and platforms.
Personalisation is fundamental
Gone is the era of impersonal sales interactions, and along with that comes a need for a high degree of personalisation. Buyers have high expectations for what they expect from sellers, so we must adapt to meet those needs.
Innovative new technologies have come about in recent years that enable us to strive for unique, personalised experiences for each buyer. To meet this need, 84% of organisations were forced to undergo some component of significant digital transformation since the pandemic began. This includes sales-enablement technology, the increased use of video in sales interactions, as well as the development of AI and machine learning in sales.
Sales-enablement platforms are an important way to keep remote sales teams productive and successful. The main aim of sales enablement is to help sales teams sell better, through ongoing training and monitoring to highlight what sellers need to know and how to execute sales strategies. Specifically, sales-enablement platforms make it easy to deliver engaging experiences and personalise sales conversations, as well as providing useful insights on how the buyer interacts with that content.
Video in sales will also be a strong tool to personalise messages and avoid the miscommunication that can occur in written communication. Being able to record and deliver video messages to prospective buyers will help take away the stress of live video calls and make everyone feel more in control of the interaction. This also helps negate the ‘’Zoom burnout’’ feeling that many have begun to experience.
The bold new world of sales
Customers of today expect sellers with high levels of empathy, authenticity and emotional intelligence. They expect unique, personalised experiences in the B2B space (not just B2C) and this requires a mental change. New technology must be utilised to provide trustworthy and engaging virtual sales experiences, and sellers need to be equipped with the skills to use this technology effectively.
If one thing is certain, it’s that the era of modern selling is here to stay. The pandemic has been a journey for us all. A fundamental shift in thinking and behaviour is needed to meet some of the same objectives that we had before, as well as deal with new challenges that have come our way. There is no more room to take anything for granted, and every decision must be informed by the latest trends and insights into human behaviour. This will be the key differential between sellers of the past and future.