Sorry travelling salespeople. Your time is up. No more sad, service station sandwiches. No more leaving the house at 5am and getting back after dark. No more following the sat-nav to identikit business parks, hopping the tube to jam-packed city centre offices or even nipping across town to press the flesh.
B2B selling has changed. Sure, Covid may have given the travelling salesperson a nudge towards the door, but this has been a long time coming. Selling to other businesses just doesn’t need someone zooming up the motorways and down A roads of the UK any more.
Now it just needs you to Zoom (or Teams, or Skype) directly into your prospect’s office or front room for that crucial face-to-face chat.
The in-person sales meeting has been replaced by online communications as your buyers expect a safe, socially-distanced and convenient way of going through the purchase process. One that doesn’t involve meeting rooms or petrol expenses.
If you’re going to meet these changes, there are a few adjustments you’ll need to make in the way you think about sales.
Here are three to get you started:
We’re all in sales now
Everyone’s a customer now, with more and more people having a say in company purchases. CFOs are clutching the purse strings tight, procurement organisations are wielding ever more influence, and stakeholders from every part of a business are becoming involved with the buying committee.
With so many stakeholders needing to be won-over, having your roving salesperson just isn’t enough. You still need dedicated sales staff - and those teams will need to grow and expand - but you also need to make sure every other member of staff can turn their expertise into a sales pitch. After all, when they’re only a couple of desks or a Teams prompt away, wouldn’t it make sense for your top experts to have a quick chat with your next big prospect?
It’s not you, it’s them
Buyers don’t care about the way your sales team is structured. And at the start, they’re not too bothered by who’s speaking to them. What they care about is the value they get, the relevancy of what’s being said, and continuity over multiple interactions.
Or another way, they’re not bothered about who “you” are when they talk to someone from your company. They care about what’s being offered to them. Your sales strategy needs to be laser-focused on your buyers, with effective personas, buyer-centric models, and a dash of good old-fashioned customer service.
There’s no such thing as a one-off sale
“A. B. C. Always be Closing.”
Alec Baldwin won an Oscar for shouting that little phrase, but it’s no longer relevant. Sorry Alec.
B2B sales isn’t - or shouldn’t be - a one off transaction where you close the sale and move on to the next target. Customers want to spread costs, consolidate licenses, and be reassured that what they’re paying for is working. And that means a shift to subscription models, to continually serviced accounts, and to constant customer service.
Which means that you have an opportunity for upsells and upgrades. The first transaction isn’t the closing of a sales relationship - it’s opening a new door to an ongoing partnership that can grow over time. As long as you can keep delivering the value.
Coffee isn’t for closers anymore. Coffee is for the people who can keep delivering value over time.