How Do You Make the Shift from Selling In-Person to Online?

Meridith Elliott Powell: Welcome to another edition of Sales Logic, where we dive into the strategies, discuss the tactics, give you everything that you need to know to be effective in today’s marketplace and well, make your sales strategy logical. I’m Meridith Elliott Powell. And I’m here with my cohost

Mark Hunter: Mark Hunter, the Sales Hunter. How are we doing Meridith?

Meridith Elliott Powell: We are good. We got a big show today, Mark. I mean, for those who listened to the show know we cover three very distinct areas. And today, we’ve got a bonus section for you! We discuss the topic, have a question of the day and the lightning round. So Mark, you want to talk about the question or the topic of the day?

Mark Hunter: Well, I’ll just go ahead and mention the topic. I’ll wet your appetite and then I’ll share the question. Let’s bat that thing around. So the topic is how do you get noticed in today’s overly COVID dominated marketplace? Cause man, it’s noisy out there. Hey, before we get into that, let’s get into the question.

Then, after the question, we got that little surprise bonus piece that we’re going to add in, but shh – we won’t mention that yet. Now here’s the question, and remember, if you’ve got a question, send it to us at saleslogicpodcast.com or put it out on social media with #saleslogic. Every week, we answer a question.

The question today is: how do I make the shift from selling in-person to selling online? My entire sales strategy has been in-person sales where I meet with staff, doctors and offices, and that is how I sell. I can’t do any of that now. That’s from Jane Shidnau in Austin, Texas. Thank you for your question, Jane.

Meridith, you want to run with it first? Go for it!

Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, it’s a great question. And it’s a big question today. I bet Mark, you’re getting a lot of this too – how do we really make the shift? I mean, as salespeople we’ve had the luxury of getting in our cars, going to businesses and really getting that first emotional connection with people.

I find it certainly easier to sell that way. So how do you, again, make the shift? Number one is that you’ve got to get comfortable in front of the camera. I really suggest to people who have never sold virtually before to first back up and start setting up meetings with your existing customers, people that you already have that emotional connection with. It will be a lot easier to get comfortable being on camera with people who are going to sort of forgive you for being uncomfortable. But you need to get a lot of calls under your belt before you start going after new prospects or new relationships. So just set up some calls and get comfortable on camera.

Mark Hunter: You know, along with that, we all use Zoom. It seems to be the COVID video connection tool, but there’s also other great tools out there.

Another one is Vidyard, which I love because it’s a really quick, easy way to embed a video, into an email. And it’s getting very good open rates and so forth, but you’ve mentioned something very key about starting off with your existing customers. Okay, now we’re several months into COVID, so hopefully you’re past that.

But see, this is where I’m finding salespeople having problems because now they have to really have to be prospecting. Up until now, they could kind of fake it with stuff they had in their pipeline, existing customers. Now they’re like, “ah, Hmm, it’s empty.” And so, yeah, this is where hopefully you’ve done enough practicing, but I highly suggest getting a tool like Vidyard, and start popping little short, 15 second videos out there.

The other piece that you have to keep in mind, because we’re all prospecting virtually now is that your reputation goes ahead of you. Now more than ever, your reputation proceeds you, which means you better make sure that your LinkedIn profile, everything that Google can say about you is good and right and accurate. Believe me, people are checking you out more than ever, because why not? You’re trying to reach them on a device. So guess what? They’re going to use that same device to check you out. You better have your act together.

Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, I would say also you need to let it go.

I mean, let go of the fact that you’re not going to be able to sell in-person for a while – that’s gone. So really take a deep breath and let go of the good old days and understand that your customers understand that too. They’re going to be ready to buy online, but you’ve gotta begin by selling urgently.

People are really busy today. They’ve got a lot going on. They’re just trying to keep their own businesses afloat. Therefore, the first thing that you need to approach them with, as you get to know them and you get to connect them with them, is something that’s going to be relevant. That’s going to be solving the pain point.

I mean, when you go back to your avatar, your customer ideal, you better be really clear on their top three pain points. What are they most worried about? What’s their biggest opportunity? What do they really fear? And then how are you positioning your product or service to solve that? Because while nobody has any time, we all certainly open emails and answer things that speak to our exact pain point.

Now I’ll tell you something right now. I was looking for just a backup virtual assistant. I’ve just had this on my mind for the last couple of weeks. Then, this morning I got an email this morning with the headline “virtual assistant services made easy and effective”. Now this was at 5am while I’m brainstorming with Mark.

I’ve got a whole morning routine I’ve got to get into, but that headline caught my eye because it spoke to the pain point that I had at the moment. You have to do the same thing, you know, they will talk to you virtually if you’re solving a problem.

Mark Hunter: It’s interesting. There were a couple of words in there that grabbed me- made easy, made easy.

Again, for anyone trying to find an online assistant, a virtual assistant, it could be hard. So when they use the words made easy, it kind of invited you to say, “yeah, that’s what I’m trying to do.” It invited you to open it up. Hey, you know, there’s a piece back early on we talked about called “WFH,” work from home. We began using that expression a few months ago and then it kind of shifted to “BFH,” buying from home, because that’s what our customers are doing. And that’s what we have to be able to have – a communication process that connects to them. Let your personality come through, regardless of what medium you’re using. Otherwise, you’re really no better than Amazon or any other really shopping cart site out there.

Anyway, with that, we should probably jump into the topic, but we have a tease. We have a new segment we’re starting and that’s that Meridith and I read a lot of books. We’re always exchanging ideas on books. Meridith’s got a new book coming out this fall, and I had one just come out a few months ago.

Today we are starting this off by talking about a book and every week we’re just going to talk about it very briefly. So, Jeff Shore is a good friend of ours out of Sacramento – Jeff Shore Consulting – go check it out. He recently wrote the book Follow Up and Close the Sale. I talked to Jeff last week about this book and let me tell you something, it hits some real sore spots. And the reason I like it is because it has what I call taillight follow-up. In other words, as soon as that prospect leaves your line of vision, however it is, you know, as if they were driving away from taillight, you need to follow up with them.

This book is chalked full of different ideas. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read it or what your thoughts are on the book. She’s reaching for the book now. There it is.

Meridith Elliott Powell: I got the book right here. Jeff and I share this passion for the follow-up system that’s my favorite part of the sales process.

And I love that he devoted an entire book to just follow-up. I love to say that the sale happens in the follow-up. It always happens in the follow-up yet, it’s still part of the sales process. That’s never trained. It’s never- there’s always just sort of left to chance, and I really believe the better you get it, the more deals you’re going to close. Furthermore, the easier and more effective your sales process will be. And I think that Jeff has written an easy to read book. What I love about it is that that it’s very tactical. He gives you a lot of steps, a lot of strategies. If you’ve ever wondered what a good follow-up system should look like, Jeff’s really laid it out here in this book. Now, where do we send people besides Amazon who want to find out more about Jeff’s book?

Mark Hunter: Well, we can jump out to his website, JeffShoreConsulting.com. That’s a great place. Or just go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, wherever it is. But you said something, it is easy to follow.

It’s easy to read because there’s stuff in there that you can start doing right now. Again, the book is by Jeff Shore and it’s called Follow Up and Close the Sale. Now, let’s jump into the topic. The topic is how do you get noticed in today’s noisy, overly COVID dominated marketplace.

Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. Number one is you’ve got to realize that you’ve got to get noticed. I was just on a sales call yesterday, getting ready to do a program for a sales team on how to sell effectively in a virtual market, and the first piece that we were talking about was the fact that I said, we need to bring marketing into the program.

And they said “marketing into the program?” I said, “yeah, you’re going to need marketing now if you want to get above the white noise and stand out from the competition.”  They said, “We don’t need marketing.” I said, “Yes, you do.” I told them that the marketplace is so crowded right now that people do business with who they’ve heard of and about.

Building that reputation in the marketplace is really important. Now, not all of us have the luxury of having a marketing team.  Build your reputation first. What do you want to be known for? And then what are you doing to get yourself known for that in the marketplace?

Mark Hunter: Back when we were talking about the question, I mentioned that your reputation proceeds you and wow! You have to be there online ahead of any conversation you’re going to have with them.

I am still amazed at the number of salespeople who wonder why. I had a sales call with a guy who called me on Friday. I couldn’t tell if he was looking to buy or if he was looking to sell, but he called me Friday afternoon and it was a conversation that went nowhere. Then, I go out and look up this guy online and believe me, it’s a train wreck.

Well, guess what? I shut that puppy down real quick because it was a train wreck. He had no chance. Now, if I had, while he was talking to me, gone out and seen some really positive stuff about him, I may have kept the conversation going, but no, it ended. You can’t break through the noise, unless you’re at least at equal footing with everyone in your community, wherever your people tend to be. If that’s an association website, if that’s whatever it is, you’ve got to get known out there.

Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. A couple of things that you can do to really start to build your reputation in the marketplace. We started talking about this at the beginning, but really get consistent with getting some videos out there.

You know, video is really the new medium. I love video because one, it really lets people get to know you and get comfortable with you. People who want to follow your message and probably want to talk to you about sales will connect to you on video. It also gives you a really good opportunity to let your personality through as well as put your opinion out there.

So you need to have an opinion about certain topics, about what you sell. Now, just to add to that, this is your opportunity to really differentiate yourself in the marketplace because you’re creating questions that you’re shooting video about, but they’re questions that you want your target market to think about.

Like, you know, why they should look for quality over price when buying your product or service? Or why service after the sale is important or why experience or longevity of a salesperson matters, whatever it is with those messages that you need your target market to make to know this is your opportunity to start to use that and get that information out there.

It’s reputation building, but it’s also educating the marketplace as to what they need to know to choose you over the competition.

Mark Hunter: One of the ways that I love to cut through the noise out there is by forwarding links of critical news articles, critical pieces of information to people who I’m trying to get in touch with or people I’m looking to remain in touch with.

I do this quite a bit. I might see an article on some news site online and I’ll take the link and I’ll pop it to them. Now, when I pop it over, I’ve found it helps break through to that person. Suddenly, they see Hey, this Mark Guy, is sending me something that’s pertinent to me. That’s important to me. And it’s amazing how that absolutely breaks through on a one-on-one level. Now I know you and I both use the same approach. I’m looking at the stack right over here, but you and I both send out personal notes.

You know, I’ve got personal stationary that I will send out and call it old school. No, I call it right school. I’ll send out a personal handwritten note. It takes me just about a minute to send out to people. And it’s little things like this that sometimes helps people feel to break through the noise they got to get macro big. No. Sometimes the way to break through the noise is to get micro, very tight and specific with the individual person.

Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. What I love about what you’re saying about personal notes is that you’re looking to be different. While everybody else in your industry is doing one thing, you’re looking to do another – what’s different. What’s going to get you will get you noticed.

Right now, the personal handwritten thank you note is definitely something that isn’t used and the phone call is something that isn’t used that often either. Staying in touch by, imagine how somebody feels when you’re giving them information to grow their business before you’re asking them for business.

So think about the things that your competition is doing. And what could you do? That’s just a little bit different that makes you stand

Mark Hunter: Out!

I always call that the ying in the yang with regards to sales. When all the competitions going one way, I’m going to go the opposite. We want to come back though and talk about marketing and talk about educating the marketplace. Don’t think that you can’t educate the marketplace just because you don’t have a marketing department.

You educate the marketplace by again, taking some article and posting it on LinkedIn or on some industry news site and then sharing some comments on it. In other words, you’re helping to educate your marketplace. And they’re allowing to see you in a more professional, more expertise manner.

Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. I also think you need to think about being a little bit edgy.

You really need to have an opinion. You need to put it out there. Like I know I’m getting noticed in the marketplace when some of the feedback that I’m getting is negative. It’s not that it’s hateful, but people don’t agree with me. I mean, I’m very opinionated about cold calling.

I don’t like it. I know Mark is one that doesn’t necessarily agree with me on that, but the fact is I put my opinions out there and I get pushed back on it. That tells me that I’ve taken a stance that is different. I’m able to back that stance up and that creates a little bit of discomfort in the marketplace. Discomfort in the marketplace gets you noticed.

Now I don’t want go too far. I don’t want to tell people that cold calling is wrong. My opinion is that it’s not right for me. I have an opinion about that, and I think in today’s marketplace you need to have an opinion.

Just like I told you, to me the most important part of the sales process is the follow-up system. That’s one of my opinions. It is something that I’ve become known for. You want that little bit of edge.

Mark Hunter: That edge is created with your opinion. And everybody can have their own opinion. Everybody can’t have their own facts. Okay, we’re not going to go into a political conversation here on that.

But I think people know what we’re talking about here. I will always share my opinion. That’s not an issue, and I can view it and share it in a respectful manner. To me, it’s the way that I believe I can stand out in the marketplace. Well, how about a final thought on that? Then we should jump into that lightning round. Cause the lightning round is going to build on this.

Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, really. My final thought is that when I think of the sales process today, I mean, I loved this question and I loved this- that we discuss this topic today because I think that really these two go together and it’s that you need to think of the sales process in three distinct levels.

First, it’s about building your reputation, getting above the white noise and standing out so that people have heard of you and about you before you knock on their proverbial door. When you think of it in that sense, think about- what am I doing to differentiate myself in the marketplace? And it’s bigger than a value prop. It’s differentiating yourself so people have heard of you. When you nail that first step, then you’re ready for the other two.

Mark Hunter: I love it. Hey, let’s jump into the lightening round. Best strategies to differentiate yourself in today’s marketplace. Go!

Meridith Elliott Powell: All right. So just for our listeners, again, our lightning round is you grab your phone, you grab a pen and paper, cause we’re about to hit you with some ideas that you can get return on investment immediately. As soon as this show is over, you can put them into place. These are best strategies for nurturing your existing customers.

Well, number one, understand you better be nurturing your existing customers or they are going to move onto somebody else. With that, I will say that I put them on a quarterly follow-up so that they go into my office customer relationship management system.

They pop up every quarter and once a year I do a full blown checkup with them to see what else they need. And one of their services, three times a year, I’m just adding value to build their business.

Mark Hunter: I’m going to take that strategy and one up yours with actually a higher tier that you do every month. In other words, it’s key that you’re segmenting your prospects. You’re segmenting your leads and the frequency with which you reach out to them is determined based on their value and opportunity to you.

Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, I would say your very best customers. If you’re talking about your top 10 or your top 20, you better have identified them.

You better know who they are. The second is you need to send them business at some point throughout the year, at least one piece of business. Don’t make it all about them giving business to you. Make sure you give that business back.

Mark Hunter: And I’m gonna add that you need to get personal with them. When you understand customers on a personal level, they’ll understand you on a peer. Then, it’s amazing how much deeper the relationship is and how much more value there is.

Don’t feel that’s uncomfortable. It’s only uncomfortable to maybe 1% of the people out there, but everyone else is going to be like, “Hey, I’m seeing you at a different level.”

Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. And don’t assume that you know them and don’t assume you know their business. People change and businesses change, and they change quite a bit. So at least on an annual basis, preferably twice a year, you should have a formal meeting with them. That is really just about as if they were a prospect and you are asking them questions about what their biggest challenges are? Where do they see their business going? Because you need to do that deep check in, so that you’re always a step ahead.

Mark Hunter: Which takes me to another point and that is to always have a business review mentality in your mind as to strategically, what can you do for the customer? And more importantly, what can you do for your customers?

Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. You know, this one is silly, but don’t let it go unnoticed to make sure at least once a year you thank them for being your customers. Let them know that they are your ideal. You appreciate the business and you appreciate the relationship. Mary Kelly, who we were talking about earlier, turned me on to this, but she turned me on to this cookie lady in Colorado.

And they do customized cookies. And I always send my best customers a dozen of those cookies every single year that have their faces on them, their business on them and everything. It’s simply just a thank you that says that I really value their relationship, it’s important to me, and I appreciate you being my customer.

Mark Hunter: Well, I guess I must not mean anything to you because I’ve never received cookies from Meridith Elliott Powell.

So anyway, but anyway.  Let me share one final thing and then I’ll flip it back to you. And then we’ll kind of close it out here. Here’s the thing, your reputation does proceed you. We’ve talked about this two other times, but I can’t stress it enough. When was the last time you went out to your website and looked at it, not in your server, but in an incognito website. In other words, exactly how customers would look at it. It’s amazing what you may just see or may not see.

Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, the last thing I’m going to say is really, do you think about setting a day aside a year or something, and really do some type of customer appreciation for your business?

Probably a lot of people listening to this or smaller operations, like what Mark and I run, and we tend to leave customer appreciation day to the big corporation, but I always take the first week in May, which is Small Business Appreciation Week, National Small Business Appreciation Week. I use that week as an opportunity to honor my customers and thank them for having a business so that I can have a business.

So I think finding some type of way every year where you get them some type of gift and do that is a great way to nurture those existing relationships.

Mark Hunter: I’ll be looking for my cookies the first week of May next year from you, Meridith Elliott Powell.

Hey, it’s time to wrap up. Thank you for listening to Sales Logic this week. If you like what you’re hearing/reading, subscribe, rate, and review the show on your favorite podcast app. If something we’ve said has earned you a single dollar, consider telling a friend about our show. It’s how we grow, to help you grow. I’m Mark Hunter.

Meridith Elliott Powell: And I’m Meridith Elliot Powell.

Mark Hunter: Remember when you sell with confidence and integrity,

Meridith Elliott Powell: Uncertainty suddenly becomes your competitive advantage

Mark Hunter: And the sale becomes logical.

Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog.  Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.

 

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