Re-imagining sales in the ‘New Normal’

Shaibu Hakeem, Head, Sales, Stanbic Bank

Covid-19 has taken a drastic toll on everything, including human lives. The advent of the pandemic has changed how we view our homes, workplaces, communities and even the world. It has undoubtedly changed the way we used to freely mingle in associating with each other and interact with our environment. The business environment, with all its different aspects, has not been spared either. The requirement of social distancing has meant a reimagination of how our business is conducted, especially ones that rely primarily and heavily on face-to-face interactions such as sales.

According to The Balance Small Business (2022), sales is the process of convincing someone to buy from your business. It often involves some level of interpersonal interaction that persuades a lead to become a customer. Most of the time, these leads have been driven to you via marketing efforts. Since sales is an interactive process, no doubt, COVID-19 has, and will continue to change how we sell.

The act of convincing in an interpersonal interaction, persuading leads and marketing efforts all need to continue for sales to thrive, and invariably for businesses to be sustained and grown. The advent of COVID-19, however, means that sales must be managed within the protocols and avoidance of exposure to the virus. This is necessary not only for the safety of the organization’s staff and the customers they serve, but also for the survival of the larger society.

Thus, in the new normal, organizations that deploy technologies that allow them to discover, reach and keep in touch with customers and their needs will have the upper hand in sales. This is the era where the virtual approach will be most critical in customer interactions and sales. Organizations are left with no choice but to evolve their sales culture to leverage on technology.

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Call Centers are a great way to reach your customers, and to be reached by customers. Since this is already being used by many organizations, it is an excellent idea to utilize what is already in place. However, it is important Call Centers are revitalized, traffic checked, and numbers beefed up. The Call Centre is also well positioned to be assigned other roles, such as the reactivation of dormant customers. A Call Center can also be used for strategic cross-selling. Thus, in this new normal, it is time you tool or retool your Call Centre staff with sales skills to drive your numbers up.

You can also reach customers on social media to present your products or services for sale. There are currently about 3.7 billion people on social media platforms worldwide. Here, you need to understand the demographics of your target customers for tailored messaging. The younger generations are tuned to more informal approaches while the opposite is true for the elderly. Social media reaches many customers and prospective customers of varied tastes and expectations – all at the same time. It is thus important to vary your messaging accordingly to take advantage of this huge market.

Live audio and video streaming platforms such Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom are effective ways of undertaking organization-to-organization sale pitches in these COVID-19 times. Sales video may also be pre-recorded and delivered. Live stream, especially video calls, make it possible to draw a sales pitch very close to reality and can be very helpful in giving instant feedback to prospects who may be ready to buy at once. However it is done, sales streams and videos should be carefully prepared to be succinct and be able to cater for feedback and clarification loops.

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It is the new normal, and we need to be innovative in how we get our sales teams working well to produce the right deliverable for our businesses. It is possible, if we purpose ourselves as such and work out how to stay close to our potential customers safely to sell.. COVID-19 is real, stay safe!