With the last quarter of 2020 fast approaching, a new year is on the horizon.
Accepting the fact that this year has been the most challenging for humanity in living memory, there is hope and trepidation that 2021 will improve.
Is Covid-19 and the impact of it still going to be around?
Yes. Almost certainly. It could be around throughout 2021, and into the future. Humanity is adapting to this. Our economies continue to adapt. We are, as a species, highly adaptable, and this is proving one of the greatest challenges we have faced so far.
How Does Covid-19 Impact B2B Sales Teams?
One of the most significant changes is that sales teams have gone remote.
Field sales teams in particular, have almost exclusively gone from having face-to-face meetings, to remote ones.
Likewise, inbound and outbound teams — those who would usually work in an office together — are working from home. Even as governments encourage people back to the office, businesses and employees are preferring to stay away. Avoiding commutes, and avoiding the risk of being around too many others (in and outside of office environments) is preferable, to prevent catching and spreading Coronavirus.
People aren’t only concerned about keeping themselves safe; it’s protecting partners, children, parents, grandparents, and wider family and friendship networks. Hence the advantages of continuing to work from home (WFH).
In 2021, whether you manage or are in an inbound, outbound, or former field sales team, WFH is going to be the norm. In some cases it will be a mix between home and office, with home being the main base of operations. Going into offices will continue to feel like a novelty for some time.
Under these circumstances, sales teams need to know how to thrive when working from home.
7 ways to succeed in remote sales
#1: Stick to a routine
In sales, or any profession, routines are important. Structure keeps us on-track and focused.
Of course, structure is easier either when going into an office, or when traveling to see clients and prospects. For many people, WFH was a major shock to the system, to start with. Alongside coping with the impact of lockdowns and stay at home orders, the fear the pandemic caused (and continues to cause), and disruptions to our way of life.
Especially when it meant trying to work while looking after children who were off school. Now schools are back in most countries and regions, it’s going to be easier to work more effectively. So as part of working more effectively, salespeople and sales leaders need to create and stick to a routine.
Going for a walk, a run, or to the gym before work starts (and starting work at a fixed time) is a good way to feel like you are “going to work.” This helps put you in a working mindset.
#2: Create kick-ass presentations
When pitching online, you need powerful eye-catching presentations. Whether you are screen-sharing or doing an instant demo, presentations make a huge difference.
Don’t attempt to knock something together in five minutes. It needs to be professional and make an impact. A presentation needs to help you increase sales conversion rates.
Either take time crafting a presentation (it could take anything from a few hours to a full day), or ask marketing to put together suitable branded sales enablement material. External agencies and freelancers can solve this problem too, with expertly crafted and conversion-accelerating presentations.
Presentations should include a section where you ask a prospect questions, and another where you showcase positive client experiences. Always finish with an Ask, to secure the business.
#3: Practice, refine and improve scripts
Alongside presentations, you need script outlines so that you can stay focused on what you need to say. Make sure to include all of the key points about your product/service. However, don’t stick to the script religiously.
Tailor what you say to what the prospect is asking about. Even if you want to tell them all about dozens of features, they may only want to know about a few things. Be mindful of what your audience wants and needs.
#4: Have a quick-reference store of smart questions
Whether in the qualifying stages, or prospects getting close to saying yes, you need to ask smart questions. You need to be sure a prospect needs what you’re selling. It’s equally important to check they are a viable potential client, not someone wasting time.
Have a quick-reference guide of questions to ask. Such as:
- What problem(s) are you trying to solve?
- What has prompted you to solve this problem?
- What happens if it isn’t solved?
- What kind of timescale are you looking to implement?
- What do you personally gain or lose if this is solved, or isn’t solved?
- Do you have senior/owner or C-suite support for implementing this solution?
- Do you have a budget for this?
- How many people do you need to involve to sign-off on that budget?
#5: Practice active listening
Active listening is an essential, albeit underrated sales skill. Instead of listening while waiting to jump in with what you need to stay, take this approach:
- Ask smart questions (see above);
- Actually listen to your prospect;
- Feedback/confirm your understanding of what they said;
- Ask relevant follow-up questions.
#6: Follow-up relentlessly
After a remote sales meeting (call, screen-share or demo), make sure to follow-up.
Start with the actions agreed upon on the call. Do those as quickly as you can, or if they require input from team members, a manager, or a third-party, within the timescale you said was realistic.
After that, keep following-up, either to have another call/meeting, or to get a yes or a no. Even if a prospect doesn’t want to go ahead, the sooner you know the better. Following-up is an essential sales skill.
#7: Have a strong LinkedIn content game
With over 706 million users world-wide, LinkedIn, the Microsoft-owned B2B social network is the most useful place online for salespeople. Here are a few ways to up your LinkedIn content and connections game (to drive forward sales):
- Optimize LinkedIn profiles. Clearly show how you add value, how clients can get in touch, and how you solve problems for clients.
- Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator. If you aren’t already subscribing, we recommend it. LinkedIn Sales Navigator starts with a 30-day free trial, and is $64.99 per month after that. You can send 20 InMail messages per month.
- Publish content of your own (articles and posts; and work with a marketing team or outsourced supplier if you don’t have time to write this content yourself), and engage with other people’s content, especially sales prospects. Doing this before sending messages is one of the most effective ways to leverage LinkedIn.
We have published more articles on this, to help you make the most of it.
- Create and stick to a routine
- Develop and use kick-ass presentations
- Practice, refine and improve scripts
- Have a quick-reference store of smart questions
- Always practice active listening
- Follow-up relentlessly
- Have a strong LinkedIn content game
CrankWheel: Cut your sales cycle in half with instant screen-sharing. Go from two or more sales calls to one: Become a one call close sales team.