Corner OfficeExpert Opinion

How to Lead Sales Efforts Through a Lockdown 

Image courtesy: ET

By Rajiv Ghatikar

Being confined to new and evolving social distancing environments can severely hamper sales productivity. We have not been trained to recognize or pick up signals based on non-face to face or verbal discussions on a phone. We no longer can “meet” with their executives’ decision making teams, and we cannot pick up those signals we do when we walk their corridors or spend time informally with them with their teams.   Having said this, we can (and do) adapt. 

We leverage a digital platform to approach our prospects, customers and our ecosystem and pretend that we can work efficiently in the ‘new normal’…. Well almost.  How does it work, what do we need to keep in mind.  How can we try to get more productive with our tools in the new age of virtual technology.  Let’s take a look at our experience in the past months as we lead sales through the COVID times – what does such a platform do – what value can we get from it – and how does it help us through these unprecedented times.

Enables us to reach customers who are targets for bespoke sales initiatives by tailoring the content we send. From a large volume of customers we can profile and segment the targets and then tailor the message per segment.  For example we know which customers have what licenses installed and perhaps we want to run a sales initiative to target customers who we feel would benefit by upgrading their license to make use of some new functionality we have built in to our latest release.

A great qualification tool saving presales and sales time. We have a sales message we want to introduce to our customers yet we want to ensure we spend our time with the customers who are truly interested.

Our customers’ time is important to them; more information we can provide to the customer in an effective time efficient manner the more the customer would appreciate it as they spend time looking at something that is important to them.

Reduce ambiguity in what the customer has access to on the internet. These days customers self-educate on the internet before engaging with a sales organization. The information on the internet however can be out of date, ambiguous, not accurate. With a digital platform we can deliver our latest messages directly to a customer who has shown an interest and we can tailor the message and deliver the latest up to date content. A digital platform that is flexible for the customer to choose what they are interested in is key to ensuring we deliver our latest messages and the customer gets the knowledge about a subject matter they are interested in.

Reach a customer with a tailored message. We know the industry our customers are in and the trends and challenges they face, our domain knowledge and technical expertise help us provide value to our customers. Understanding the needs of our customers enables us to tailor a solution to solve their specific challenges. Socializing this in the customer can take many iterations and meetings, a digital platform enables us to deliver our value to a customer and also for them to socialize it internally thus raising awareness of the possibilities open to them.

Enabling our partners to deliver our messages to our customers. It is not always easy for partners to commit the time required to learn and reproduce our exact messages we have developed for our customers. A digital platform helps our partners deliver the message to the customer without having to invest a great deal of time in being able to replicate the message exactly. Instead the partner can focus on the value they can bring to the engagement by spending time with the customer at a stage where more in-depth analysis of the customer problem is required.

Large Account Engagement – Selling solutions to large customers takes time as it involves many stakeholders both internally and at the customer. We have a vision for each of our customers, a digital platform enables us to define, deliver and align all stakeholders both at the customer and internally as to the status of messages being delivered. We partner with our customers and as we work together to identify how our solution helps them overcome their challenges the digital platform is updated and content made available for all to see.

Working in a global company means working across multiple time zones, if a digital platform is used to engage the customer and progress our interaction with the customer we can keep our own internal stakeholders up to date on what has been presented by simply sending them the same links we send the customer. This helps reduce the number of internal meetings and late night calls as everyone can stay current.

Disclaimer: The author is Vice President, Portfolio Development for Asia Pacific region at Siemens Digital Industries Software and views expressed herein are his own

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