Like it or not, the global pandemic we’re currently experiencing has turned our world upside down and the after-effects for businesses and salespeople are not going away! Much like when the twin towers came crashing down on that fateful September morning in New York City, our sense of what ‘normal‘ is has likely changed forever.
If you recall, the initial reaction to the 9/11 tragedy was to shut everything down. Flights were grounded, businesses and schools closed, events canceled, and daily life as we knew it came to a grinding halt. However, once we began to come to grips with our new reality, people came up out of their proverbial bunkers to reclaim some semblance of normalcy. Nonetheless, the world had changed forever and many of the new security protocols that were implemented back then remain in place today.
The pandemic is having a similar effect on businesses and sales organizations. Now that we’ve endured the shock of the initial shutdown phase, businesses are reopening and innovators are actively looking for ways to adjust, adapt, and modify their approaches to what many are calling “the new normal.”
I have no doubt we will eventually overcome the Coronavirus, with therapeutics to treat the disease, and hopefully, a vaccine that will eradicate it altogether. But from a sales perspective, many of the traditional ways sellers approach prospects to create new opportunities, compete against other viable solution providers, and protect their margins, have also changed forever.
While the basic objectives of the sales process are still relevant, from qualifying to identifying needs, positioning your solutions, and closing, it has become clear that to succeed in this new normal, sellers must evolve in order to more effectively execute on each of these objectives.
Gone are the days when sellers can rely on ‘wine-ing and dining’ potential buyers in order to create new business relationships or fend off the competition. Likewise, buyers and sellers alike are realizing they can often accomplish more in a 45-minute Zoom Video conference, as opposed to all the time, effort, and expense that would otherwise need be invested over the course of the typical sales process.
There’s a familiar adage that says, “Out of adversity, comes opportunity.” Selling in the midst of a global pandemic certainly qualifies as adversity, however, selling under these circumstances is NOT how salespeople have been trained over the last 30+ years. Thus, the skill set(s) needed to engage prospects that have become even more difficult to reach is sorely lacking. Furthermore, just because a salesperson wants to ask a bunch of questions doesn’t mean potential buyers will open up and share information with someone they don’t yet know and trust.
To adapt (and thrive) within this new normal, traditional sales practices are unlikely to move the needle going forward. And now that businesses can no longer rely on previous experience for their future success, infusing sales teams with superior engagement skills, conversational techniques, positioning strategies, and navigational tools has become critically important.
Ironically, superior navigational skills, engagement techniques, and positioning strategies have always separated top-performing salespeople from the rest of the pack. But, knowing “how” to execute more effectively throughout the sales process has unfortunately been the least talked about topic in traditional sales training. That’s why I created Question Based Selling!
—Thomas A. Freese, President, QBS Research, Inc.