The post-pandemic world, also known as the “new normal,” is providing lazy salespeople with more excuses for not achieving their goals and objectives. Since the start of the new year, I have conducted dozens of interviews and focus groups with sales professionals as part of my work building our Strategic Business Selling curriculum. An overwhelming number of the salespeople I have talked with report that “gaining access” to prospects and existing customers has never been more difficult.
“Because of COVID, nobody wants to see me. Everyone has been either locked down, working at home, or working in a facility that won’t accept visitors.”
If you are somebody who feels this way and has stated the above, I have some very bad news for you. The reason they don’t want to see you, and are probably conducting virtual meetings with your competitors, is because you are not offering them a valuable business reason for doing so. Why would anyone in this busy world waste their time on your products if they perceive no value or benefit?
What is access?
“Access” is not your mother or father’s idea of a sales call. The traditional idea of a sales call occurred in the prospect’s office and in some industries, the salesperson may have traveled days for a one-hour meeting. In 2021 and beyond, “access” means a prospect has provided you with an opportunity to share a value proposition or valid business reason to continue to talk. If you pass the first test, then maybe you’ve earned the right to another access to propose a solution. If you don’t, then you are not going to get additional access for a long time if ever.
Tips for Gaining Access in the New Normal
Based on our latest research and program materials, I am pleased to share 3 tips for gaining access in this new normal. For context, this is part of a 20-tip tool kit.
The Social Selling Brand of You is Your Staring Point
I will share that it still shocks me to hear salespeople in the new normal say things like, “I don’t really do the “social selling thing.” I believe in the old-fashioned ways of selling.” Keep in mind this is the same persona complaining they aren’t able to gain access.
In our new normal, the digitization of selling is the lifeblood of the modern successful sales professional. LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, and even Facebook are the channels potential customers are using before they will meet a potential salesperson. Here are some critical data points that I use on a regular basis courtesy of Hubspot’s Market Research Team:
- 65% of salespeople who use social selling fill their pipeline, compared to 47% of reps who do not.
- Four in 10 reps have recently closed two to five deals thanks to social media.
- Half of revenue is influenced by social selling in 14 common industries, including computer software, healthcare, and marketing and advertising.
- Using social selling tools can increase win rates and deal size by 5% and 35%, respectively.
Self-Coaching Exercise: Pick a prospect that you would like to target and meet with. Then take a look at your LinkedIn profile through the eyes of that prospects. Why would that prospect want to meet with you? What value are you bringing? Does that prospect see important activities and connections? If you are having a difficult time answering these questions, you have a lot of work to do.
Make an Informational Video
You have all the tools at your fingertips. Informational videos that provide value, insights, and a point of view are one of the easiest and most impactful ways of creating awareness. Still thinking of ideas? Make a video of you explaining the value proposition of a new product or a recent customized solution you created for another customer. (I shouldn’t have to remind you, but I will. Please remember not to mention the other customer’s name or give away anything proprietary to that other customer.)
- 7 in 10 B2B buyers admit to watching a video at some point during their buying process.
- 60% of B2B buyers said that YouTube and Vimeo are very, or somewhat important, in their purchasing journey.
- 96% of consumers find videos helpful when making purchase decisions online.
- Prospects who view a video of a product are 85% more likely to buy.
Follow-up, Follow-up, and Follow-up because people are Busy!
Gaining access takes work. Hard work. In this new normal you should have zero expectations that you are going to gain access on your first attempt at contact. Here are more data points:
- 60% of customers say no four times before saying yes, whereas 48% of salespeople never even make a single follow up attempt.
- 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls whereas 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up call.
- 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first.
- 75% of online buyers want to receive between 2-4 phone calls before a company gives up; 12% would like a company to try as many times as it takes to get a hold of them.
- 70% of salespeople stop at one email. Yet if you send more emails, you’ve got a 25% chance to hear back.
- 42% of people would be encouraged to make a purchase if the sales rep called back at an agreed-upon, specified time.
- 57% of people said they would be encouraged to make a purchase from a salesperson who doesn’t try to apply pressure or hassle them when following up.
In summary, selling in the new normal is both more difficult and easier than ever before at the same time. All the tools are in front of you. It just takes smart effort and diligence. The most important part of the process is to have a mindset that you are there to provide your customer with a valid business reason to give you access.