Selling during COVID-19 has been going on for a few months now, and some clear trends have emerged. But, will they continue on once we are on the other side of the pandemic? Sales Hacker’s Alyssa Merwin, in a recent article, believes they will, writing, “it’s becoming increasingly clear that many of the changes brought on by the pandemic will be permanent.”
She highlights the trends that she believes will be here to stay following selling during COVID-19; some are entirely new to the sales world while others were in place pre-pandemic but have now been accelerated. It’s important that you acknowledge these trends and do what you can to embrace them, which will keep you competitive during this tough time and better prepared for what lies ahead.
Selling during COVID-19 and emerging trends
Listening is now even more important. Sure, listening has always been an essential part of selling. But now, selling during COVID-19 requires sales to be conducted via screens rather than in-person (and many buyers don’t want in-person meetings right now). Reps must ensure they are listening closely and assuring the prospects that they are being heard.
Active listening is a very important skill to master, as it ensures that you’re truly taking in what the speaker is saying. Also, active listening provides visual cues that you, the listener, are truly engaged. Another blog post from SalesFuel discussed the topic of active listening, highlighting how it is put into practice. Advice from the post is relevant to selling during COVID-19:
- Keep eye contact with the other person. You will send a message that you are interested in what is being said and their words are important.
- Watch non-verbal behavioral cues. Gestures and subliminal messages, like crossed arms or tapping your foot can speak volumes.
- Watch interviews on TV to see who does and who doesn’t practice active listening. Watching others in action will help you fine tune your own skills.
In addition to active listening, another way to demonstrate that you are listening while selling during COVID-19 and beyond is to “speak their language.” As Merwin explains, “Every company has its own corporate word culture. When we talk with the buyer, we should frame the solution in the customer’s corporate language, not ours…Learn your buyer’s language, and make sure they’re feeling heard when you talk with them.”
Now more than ever, you need to establish connections with prospects and it must be done via a screen. You can boost your own listening skills and assure the speaker they are being heard by incorporating these tips.
Selling during COVID-19 produced another trend that Merwin predicts is here to stay: the size and clout of buying committees. Yes, there have always been decision-makers, but she points out that during the pandemic, decision-makers have grown in number within companies, likely due to tighter budgets, and their importance has also increased. “There are more decision makers and influencers in every deal than ever before, and the trend isn’t likely to stop anytime soon,” she writes. “But this has caused another change that few people saw coming. As buying committees grow, we’re also seeing turnover increase as well, beyond the typical 20% of annual decision maker turnover.”
This means that while selling during COVID-19, and likely after the outbreak, sellers must be ready and prepared to deal with more than one decision-maker. Focus on multithreading various relationships so that you have more than one trusted contact at a company, speaking and engaging with as many people on the buying committee as possible.
It’s up to you to keep track of and adopt trends while selling during COVID-19 and beyond. The more trends that you embrace and implement, the more likely you will be able to be successful during the outbreak and well into the future.