In today’s climate, the idea of Mad Men-style, in-person sales pitching and wining and dining of potential clients seems impractical. And because of the global economic crisis spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, consumer spending habits have shifted from luxuries and frivolities to more imperative needs such as necessities and creature comforts for home.
So, how are you supposed to make sales in this type of environment? The new formula is relatively simple. If you want to maintain and increase sales in this transient economic environment, it’s essential to make sure your “elevator pitches” and sales behaviors are adapting to the times, your potential clients are feeling heard, and their needs are being met.
How COVID-19 Is Changing Business
Social distancing will likely be a semi-permanent feature of society for the foreseeable future. And for many businesses, this means that using traditional sales techniques may not be as viable anymore. In this new, virtual-centric, socially-distanced business climate, it’s vital to utilize all available tools and methods to capture sales and drive business.
Why the Traditional Elevator Pitch Doesn’t Work Anymore
Before the pandemic, customers were already using search engines and social media to research products and services before purchasing. But once the lockdowns began, global internet traffic surged, online sales increased significantly, and now, over half the world is using social media.
Additionally, new tech brands like Zoom have seen major growth in platform signups for sales calls and marketing meetings due to quarantines.
The ubiquity and accessibility of these virtual platforms and tools makes it easier nowadays to grab the attention of potential customers or investors and communicate with existing clients without leaving your office, renting a billboard, or making outbound sales calls. With the growth of these digital and social platforms and their potential to benefit businesses, it’s time to rethink traditional sales practices and take heed of trends.
Cold Calling Won’t Do
At a time when people are getting bombarded with emails, texts, notifications, calls, and general information overload, the idea of “high touch” interaction or cold call selling can be a major turn-off. It’s important to capture people’s attention at the right time, especially when they’re multitasking or shopping in “micro-moments,” where they reflexively turn to their smartphone to act on an impulse to learn, read, watch, or buy something. One of the more ideal options is to meet potential customers where they spend most of their time: social media.
Social Media Is Key
Social media giants including Facebook and LinkedIn have reported significant growth and engagement in 2020, and over half of consumers are actively and regularly using social media to research products and make buying decisions. Therefore, elevator pitching your brand on social networks can be an effective way to encourage engagement with your company while fostering “micro-relationships” with consumers. In turn, those happy consumers will be more likely to recommend your company to others.
Show You’re Taking the Pandemic Seriously
COVID-19 precautions (such as masks, physical distancing, and temperature checks) have made in-person sales a bit trickier. Humor and empathy are usually effective ways to promote ease in potential clients and encourage a relaxed atmosphere for sales to happen organically. Additionally, customers are more likely to trust and frequent businesses that are visibly following guidelines. If you are still physically open for business or meeting with potential clients, be sure to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for safe interactions.
Reworking the Elevator Pitch for Today’s World
There are four crucial areas that your company can focus on for lasting, impactful sales in the current business market: methods, manner, meaning, and momentum.
- Utilize virtual tools such as sales or networking platforms like LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator to find potential leads and expand your sales reach.
- Use social media channels to talk to your customers to learn about their needs and interests.
- Look at your analytics data to see what consumers are looking for and focus on those products and services.
Remember that some of the same elevator pitch rules apply: your pitches should engage, and never bore. Try to keep verbal pitches (on phone or video calls) around 60 seconds and online pitches (social media posts or website blurbs) captivating but concise. The goal is holding attention and promoting long-term engagement without losing interest.
With a sizable amount of the U.S. labor force now working from home full-time, it is important to make sure your salespeople are well-equipped to perform their jobs in these new conditions. Talk to your sales reps, create anonymous virtual “comment box” surveys, or ask them whether they feel confident selling with the resources and training they have. Adjust your sales training based on their feedback.
With social distancing, first impressions and consistency of character are fundamental. Even if someone doesn’t have the resources to make a financial decision immediately, they will remember a thoughtful, relatable, or problem-solving interaction. Try to find common ground and let it develop from there.
Make sure to be mindful of your tone. Online, phone, and text communication removes crucial body language and nonverbal communication cues, so paying attention to the remaining available input and responding appropriately is imperative.
Building relationships is the primary goal. Being aggressive doesn’t work in an age where it’s easier than ever to hit block, mute, or unsubscribe. If you’ve left potential customers with nothing but negative emotions (annoyance, frustration, boredom, or confusion), you’ve lost the sale. Read up on consumer psychology and pursue empathetic sales training when possible.
People may likely care less about your company or brand than they do about how your products can solve their problems or how your services can improve their lives. Make sure leads and clients clearly understand your company’s value but, at the same time, tangibly feel like you care about them. A salesperson without empathy could find it hard to succeed in this selling market. You have to listen to and care about your customers.
Don’t wait for the market to rebound or those leads to call you back. Keep moving and keep pitching. This way, your company will be ready with primed sales relationships for when the market climbs back up and consumers are prepared to spend again. Focus on the client, anticipate needs and wants, ask questions, and follow up.
The Bottom Line
In order to rework the elevator pitch for present day, and in turn, drive sales, it’s important to remember the four Ms:
- Method: You have to adapt your sales methods to this new, COVID-19-influenced market. One of the best things you can do for your business is to educate yourself and your sales reps on the current buying trends and new ways of making sales.
- Manner: You have to make sure your sales manner builds relationships and doesn’t turn leads off. Be attentive, diligent, adaptive, and also confident, but humble.
- Meaning: Make sure the meaning behind your product, service, and company is crystal clear. Why should they care? Consumers have a plethora of options at their fingertips, so they need to know why your products or services are the ones that will bring the most value to their lives.
- Momentum: You have to stay positive, be creative, and keep the momentum going to thrive in a COVID-19-impacted business environment. The pandemic will eventually end, but the market waits for no one.