Businesses of all kinds have been forced to pivot, adapt, and manage crisis situations as a regular occurrence throughout the past 14 months. From a sales perspective, the core principles of relationship building have been turned upside down and may never return to normal. As we all look for the best way to adapt in sales, the solutions to our problems could be hiding in plain sight within our own organizations.
Several years ago, AICC partnered with Holly Green and her company, The Human Factor. During that time, she worked with numerous member and Associate member companies, including ours at Huston Patterson. Throughout that process, she forced us to take a hard look at our own company—the “business of our business” is the way she described it. During that process, she asked us to come up with a value proposition, or a statement of innovation, service, or feature intended to make us attractive to our client base. The clarity it brought to our organization was great. Everything we did as a company during those years, we did with our value proposition as our framework.
Then COVID-19 happened.
According to McKinsey & Company research, 70%–80% of B2B decision-
makers prefer remote human interactions or digital self-service. My first reaction to that statistic is that it seems like an incredibly high percentage! The article, however, details the reasoning behind it. Safety and cost-savings are two obvious reasons why they detail the need to stay remote or visitor-free, but the biggest reason cited is efficiency of their workforce. The study shows U.S. companies are 10% more effective with their COVID-adapted model.
So, how can we as sales reps sell to a growing number of people who refuse to see us?
As we all try to figure it out, each of us has tried to adapt in different ways. At certain times, I know I just felt like I was treading water with bricks on my feet, doing whatever I could to manage our business. The moment things started turning better for us was when we circled back to what has always brought us success—our value proposition. By pivoting the delivery of our value proposition, we got back to the core of our framework. Sales expert Mark Roberts from OTB Solutions believes a good value proposition is the key, whether it is delivered in person or virtually. The people who can best figure out how to deliver their value proposition virtually will be the winners. Several months ago, I spoke about the adaptations sales reps can make to make themselves relevant during the pandemic. I mentioned that embracing technology and the benefits it allows, combined with the old-school relationship tactics, can help maintain relationships or even strengthen them during this challenging time. Wrapping those new techniques into our current value proposition is key for us as we start to see the light at the end of this tunnel.
A good value proposition is key to any business. Adapting and pivoting the delivery of the value proposition will be crucial in the next generation of sales for all of us if we want to continue to thrive in years to come.
Joe Morelli is vice president of sales and marketing for Huston Patterson Printers and is vice Chair of AICC’s Associate board.