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With the advent of Covid-19, sales reps and decision-makers were instantly forced into the world of remote sales. In this blog post, we reflect on the new sales landscape and ways we should all be adapting our sales approach, as described by Andreï Sochala, Director of Sales at Aircall. 

As the pandemic continues, showing prospective customers empathy and understanding is proving to be more effective than the straight-up hard-sell. At our virtual Grow with Inbound 2020 event, Huble Digital CSO Daryn Smith discussed how remote sales teams are adapting to the new way of working with Andreï Sochala, Director of Sales at Aircall.

Structural changes to remote sales teams

“It’s not just the sales reps who are working remotely anymore, it’s the decision-makers too” . . . Andreï provided that nugget of insight when asked about the structural changes he’d observed during the pandemic thus far.

According to Andreï, the first trend he noticed when sales reps and decision makers took up office at home was that the answer rate fell. This seems pretty obvious when you consider the lifestyle upheaval we’ve all experienced, right?

Here’s the interesting part…

While Aircall’s email reply rate fell by 30%, the average reply rate for calls only dropped by 15%. So even though it was becoming more difficult to connect with people, more prospects were answering their phones. Andreï believes that this is because prospects find it easier to answer their mobiles while jumping from one Zoom meeting to the next, with email being too time-consuming.

Perhaps this also hints at a need for personal connection during times of physical distancing?

Best practice directives for reaching out to prospects

“You’re not reaching out to sell”

Traditionally, sales departments have been divided into teams that handle inbound leads and teams that go out and get the sales. But in times of economic crisis and general uncertainty, the latter may not be the most effective strategy. So how are these ‘hunters’ — as Andreï calls them — adapting their strategies to keep hitting targets?

With empathy and understanding.

Many businesses are still in crisis mode and hurting from the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic. Some have furloughed staff indefinitely, others have retrenched employees to keep operations afloat. In short, businesses are struggling and probably aren’t looking for anymore expenses (at least for the short-term).

So instead of reaching out to sell, sales reps are initiating contact to find out how the crisis is affecting the decision maker and their wider company. Sales reps now want to understand how the crisis has changed the company structure, and to gain insight into how the business has had to adapt.

Andreï strongly believes that any attempts to sell out-of-the-gate will be wrongly received, essentially closing the door of opportunity for good. To nurture sales while working remotely, sales reps (in particular the ‘hunters’) need to start thinking long-term.

The pandemic has fast-tracked the ‘consultative’ trend

Sales was already trending towards a more consultative approach — the pandemic just hastened its adoption. Now, marketing teams are responsible for building sales funnels so that sales reps don’t need to bang on doors to get results. Instead, remote sales teams can take on a consultant role to offer advice and guidance to the prospect.

During the presentation, Huble Digital’s CSO Daryn Smith noted that several sales leaders he’d spoken to have restructured their sales departments into industry-specific teams. With an understanding of the industry and being well-versed in the jargon, these teams can give prospects valuable advice when consulting.

Andreï built on Daryn’s insight, stating: “We talk a lot about the customer experience, but what about the prospect experience?”. When sales reps reach out, being armed with industry knowledge is great, but knowing which touchpoints have been engaged prior to contact is even better.

This is where HubSpot’s CRM is extremely effective. With it, remote sales teams are able to see the chronology of events — a sales call here, an email there — for specific accounts. This goes a long way towards ensuring that sales reps’ pitches aren’t redundant or irrelevant.

Prospects expect sales reps to know what their issues are

When customers call in for service, they expect the rep to know who they are and what their problem is. This expectation has been fostered by cloud-based phone systems such as Aircall. Andreï notes that it’s not just cloud-based phone systems that have created this expectation, it’s CRM integration and being able to pull up customer information there and then.

The problem is that many enterprise-level businesses are hampered by expensive, bespoke technology set-ups in their call centres. This has been detrimental to sales and service during the pandemic, as these systems aren’t flexible and cannot be relocated for staff who are working from home.

While big business is being hampered by legacy technology, SMBs and mid-market companies are servicing customers with simple plug-and-play integrations that are more adaptable and allow for seamless remote working.

Flexibility is the order of the day…

...and businesses that don’t adapt their ways of working during the pandemic — and beyond — are going to come unstuck. Aircall is a cloud-based phone system for modern business that allows remote sales teams to stay connected and work remotely with no hitches. The software also integrates with the tools you love, such as HubSpot.

When the technology exists, and it’s simple for remote sales teams to onboard, there’s really no excuse for falling behind the times. If you’d like to chat to Huble Digital on the way forward in our ‘new normal’ and how to get the best out of your remote-working teams, get in touch with a consultant today.

For the full catalogue of Grow With Inbound 2020 presentations, click here.

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