Representor Fall 2021 - From the Top

FROM THE TOP

Lessons learned through Covid-19

by John O’Brien, CPMR
Coakley, Boyd and Abbett
ERA President
jobrien@cbane.com

We are entering a world of blended sales where the virtual calls augment our face-to-face meetings, where speed and accuracy are keys to our customers’ success, and where preparation will be paramount to capturing the attention of our customers.

If we have learned nothing else, we have learned that we as companies and individuals can face any challenge head-on and still succeed.

Whether it is a pandemic, natural disasters, skyrocketing logistics and shipping costs, raw material costs or product allocation, never mind all six at one time, we as an industry and as people within the electronics market sector are adaptive and flexible. So, where will all of this lead us?

We have adapted to a new way of working with our customers. The virtual sales call was generically referred to as Webex and used only for those rare occasions when travel was unavailable. So, what about these virtual calls?

When we first started working remotely, getting an hour of a customer’s time was pretty standard. As everyone started falling into their rhythm of working remotely, those hour-long meetings were quickly reduced to 30 minutes to accommodate busy schedules. Nearly 20 months into the pandemic, hour-long calls are more like 15 minutes.

Many customers are now requesting that initial meetings be held virtually. In many cases, if we are doing an exploratory call, we have less than 15 minutes to get to the point with our customers and try to entice them with whatever product we are trying to sell.

Critical to success in those 15 minutes is having a succinct, targeted agenda. I liken these 15-minute calls to what we used to refer to as elevator pitches. We have got to grab and hold their attention while providing maximum value to the customer. That is why research prior to these meetings is so critical. We have to better understand our customers’ needs and attempt to address them with a solution immediately. By doing a deeper dive into customers’ websites, social media and online content, we can get a better idea of what pain points they may be facing and tailor our discussions to help alleviate that pain.

Our ability to be flexible is the hallmark of a great sales organization. We have to be able to try new things and make a decision quickly if these new ideas are going to work. If they do, great. If not, we have to move on and try something new. None of us can get mired in what didn’t work. Figure out how to make the necessary adjustments and try again.

Sales will continue to evolve into a hybrid approach, so the need to adapt is critical to thriving. We are entering a world of blended sales where the virtual calls augment our face-to-face meetings, where speed and accuracy are keys to our customers’ success, and where preparation will be paramount to capturing the attention of our customers.

So, while all of the situations that have been thrown at us over the past 18-24 months have tried our patience and even, unfortunately, dealt us some devastating personal outcomes, we persevere. We press on. We become more agile and we work together to become better for it.

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