- It is important to concentrate on the right types of customers, because not every prospect will deliver a profitable sale.
- According to research from Keypoint Intelligence, the top three areas that sales organizations are struggling with include finding new customers, selling more to existing customers, and increasing sales with value-added services.
- Rather than focusing on their solutions and theirstrategies, sales reps must shift the conversation to their clients’ needs so they can establish a relationship.
By Karen Kimerer
(Read Part 1 of this series here.)
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted businesses of all types to think differently about their bottom lines, profit projections, revenues, and sales strategies. On a global scale, sales representatives are finding it impossible to sell the way they used to—face-to-face meetings are difficult, some prospects still haven’t returned to their offices, and businesses and consumers remain on high alert as they face an uncertain future.
Sales Mistakes to Avoid
As stated in last week’s article, sales reps who rely on a predictable process are better able to define any breakdowns in communication and overcome them before they derail the entire sale. Whereas growing firms typically have their own best practices, Keypoint Intelligence’s sales training indicates that struggling organizations often make similar mistakes. For example:
- Not enough focus: It is important to go into each potential sale with focus and deliberation. It is important to concentrate on the right types of customers, because not every prospect will deliver a profitable sale. Don’t try to be all things to all clients, because this strategy will often backfire.
- Lack of a sales process: Declining print service providers (PSPs) are considerably less likely to have a well-defined sales process in place than their more successful counterparts. Research from Keypoint Intelligence has consistently shown that thriving PSPs are more likely to have a defined and repeatable sales process in place than their struggling counterparts.
- Lack of a dedicated sales manager: Even the best reps will struggle from time to time, so it’s very important to have a dedicated sales manager for reps to fall back on when they need guidance or support.
Addressing Current and Future Challenges
It has been said that the pandemic has brought our industry into a time of “pause,” where people have a bit more time than they did in the past due to stay-at-home advisories and restricted travel. Salespeople would be well-advised to focus on problem areas during this time of inaction. According to recent research from Keypoint Intelligence, the top three areas that sales organizations are struggling with include:
- Finding new customers
- Selling more to existing customers
- Increasing sales with value-added services
Perhaps there are new customers to reach out to that might benefit from your services. Maybe there are existing customers who may not be aware of all of your capabilities. Finally, consider whether there are some value-added services that you currently aren’t exploring that you might be able to deliver to clients.
Although the pandemic has temporarily slowed things down, other things will likely accelerate and shift as we continue into the future. One of the most dramatic changes will likely be to the approach to sales. Although the steps of a solid sales process will probably remain the same, entering sales conversations with an empathetic ear will be more important than ever. Rather than focusing on their solutions and theirstrategies, sales reps must shift the conversation to their clients’ needs so they can establish a relationship. Although the most successful sales reps are those who bring new ideas to their clients, it is difficult to develop these new ideas if you haven’t first invested the time in truly getting to know your clients and their specific challenges!
The Bottom Line
There is no denying that COVID-19 changed our world forever, and the sales process must also evolve as a result. Sales are what make a business run, so they remain important even in these uncertain times. Sales reps should take this time to listen to their customers with an empathetic ear so they can determine how they can truly help them. People need help making sense of all the information that’s out there, and sales reps are well-positioned to support them in this regard. It’s certainly great that people have access to a limitless supply of knowledge, but all of this information can be overwhelming and confusing. Sales reps should approach their clients with authority and help them make sense of everything. This approach helps foster the empathy and understanding that can lead to a loyal and valued partnership.
Karen Kimerer of Keypoint Intelligence has experienced the many challenges of expanding current market opportunities and securing new business. She has developed a systematic approach to these opportunities, addressing the unique requirements of becoming a leader in our changing industry. She is well-versed in 1:1 marketing, web-to-print, direct mail, book publishing, supply chain management, data segmentation, channel integration, and photo products.