The Key to Sales Success in a Digital Landscape? Make It Personal
Selling is never easy. And if you’re leading a sales team that relies on face-to-face engagement with prospects, the COVID-19 pandemic has probably made your job even harder. Without opportunities to engage potential customers in person, you’ve had to find new ways to close deals quickly. This is especially true in B2B sales, where it typically takes months to convert a lead.
Even before the pandemic, simply catching a prospect’s attention was hard. The average human attention span was 12 seconds in 2000, and it decreased to 8 seconds by 2013. Fast-forward to today, and people are bombarded with sales and marketing messages at an ever-increasing rate. Many of your targets are probably eager to tune out the noise. As the B2B sales arena grows increasingly digital, that has become even easier.
This massive digital shift has given buyers more control over the sales process. Self-serve options and remote interactions provide additional speed and convenience while reducing the pressure prospects feel when talking to in-person sales representatives. Unsurprisingly, only 20 percent of B2B buyers want to see in-person sales make a comeback.
To succeed in this environment, you must find ways to add a personal touch to every stage of the sales process to help your efforts stand out. But how do you do that if you don’t have opportunities for in-person interaction? Here’s a stage-by-stage breakdown:
Prospecting and Qualifying
Your team likely sources new leads in a variety of ways. You might use sites like LinkedIn or Quora to conduct research. Before the pandemic, you might’ve gotten to know potential buyers at conferences or industry events. Regardless of how effectively you’ve used these methods in the past, it’s probably safe to say that your best leads—which often become your best customers—come from professional introductions.
When a current customer or colleague willingly facilitates an introduction with a qualified lead, you gain an immediate advantage over your competitors. While referrals, reviews, testimonials, and other endorsements can help you establish credibility in the eyes of prospects, a professional introduction adds a layer of authenticity and trust. The party that facilitates the introduction handles the initial work, which means subsequent interactions can focus on the details of the deal and the benefits of your product or service.
In the post-pandemic world, your ability to keep prospects engaged will hinge on your capacity to develop personal connections. A system or tool such as Introducely can make it easier to receive professional introductions, meaning you’ll spend fewer resources on prospecting and qualifying leads.
Pitching and Overcoming Objections
An effective pitch should be tailored specifically to the prospect you’re pitching. Even if you’ve connected with that prospect through a professional introduction, you shouldn’t go straight to closing. Instead, learn more about the prospect’s goals and needs so that you can thoughtfully address them during your pitch. If you’ve connected with a prospect through other methods, you’ll have to do some extra work to ensure you’re talking with the right person at the right stage of the journey.
In either case, you’ll want to customize your pitch to show how your product or service addresses your prospect’s unique pain points. When the time is right, focus your pitch on those key benefits—and be prepared for objections. The more you know about a prospective buyer, the easier it will be to anticipate potential objections.
Be transparent in your interaction and show your prospects how you’ll ensure they’re satisfied. By demonstrating flexibility and understanding, you give them a glimpse of the type of high-quality service they can expect after making a purchase.
The details of the closing process will often vary depending on your industry and the type of product or service you’re selling. Ultimately, closing a deal should signal the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship between you and the buyer.
While executing a contract might seem like a formality, you can make this stage more personal. When appropriate, show how much the new partnership means to your business by calling it out on social media or holding an internal celebratory meeting between your organizations. Demonstrate a desire to get to know your customers personally.
Humans are social creatures, and personal connections create an emotional attachment that fosters loyalty. This is why organizations have made personalizing customer experiences a top priority in recent years. If you can add a personal touch to every stage of the sales process, you’ll start relationships on the right foot.
Nick Chasinov is the founder and CEO of Teknicks, a research-based agile internet marketing agency certified by Google in Analytics, Tag Manager, and Ads.