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Keeping sales up when customer visits are down By Darren Fleming ABOVE: When selling over the phone, all you have is sound BOTTOM: The four questioning techniques: Level, Language, Point and Person

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ith social distancing set to be the dominant theme of 2020, businesses will have to find new ways of servicing their customers without going onsite. Understanding how this setup will affect salespeople, customers and business-as-usual is essential to making it through to the other side when we can set up a new normal. There are three areas that sales managers, salespeople and business owners need to be aware of. These are the person, process and perception. These will all play a crucial role in transitioning people from selling face-toface to selling over the phone.

The person

Salespeople are finding their work environment turned on its head. Previously they had been free agents out on the road able to do as they wanted, free from the constant oversight that comes with being in an office. As long as they were making budget they were pretty much left to their own devices. Now, being stuck in the office they will feel as though they have had their wings clipped. Cabin fever will set in for them more quickly than for other staff. Being stuck in the same place with the same people all day will cause some people to become agitated. Sales managers should watch out for this as it can cause tensions to rise between salespeople and the rest of the office. Remember, salespeople love being on the road, but office staff love salespeople being on the road more. If salespeople are able to work from home (as most should be) working may be more difficult than usual. If there is no designated home office, salespeople may find themselves working from the kitchen table, coffee table or outdoor patio. Throw into the mix other family members working and schooling from home and it makes it almost impossible for salespeople to get into the zone to do their best work. It’s at this time that motivation falls and self-talk turns negative.

Environmental signals

Salespeople rely on a host of environmental signals to sell their services. These include what they see in the customer’s office, changes from last visit and chance interactions with other staff members. On top of this, salespeople rely on the social cues from their customer. The way they move, how they interact, hold back or lean in all come together to signal to the salesperson what they should do next. When selling over the phone these cues are missing. Without the environmental signals and social cues, sales calls will be shorter. Salespeople are used to sales calls being a particular length. They turn up, have rapport building conversation over a coffee, move into the sales conversation, solve the issues and walk out with a reasonable order at a good margin. This might take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes. But over the phone, a lot of this is missing. Calls will go from being 20+ minutes to being over within five minutes. Where it used to take all day to make six sales calls, this will now be completed before morning tea. What then? As a sales manager, it is important to understand these changes in your sales team. Put strategies in place to ensure they can have a familiar space to work – perhaps even sitting in the car.

April/May 2020  SPLASH!  31

Profile for The Intermedia Group

SPLASH April-May 2020  

SPLASH! is the leading trade publication for the Australasian “wet industry”, incorporating the swimming pool, spa and aquatics industries....

SPLASH April-May 2020  

SPLASH! is the leading trade publication for the Australasian “wet industry”, incorporating the swimming pool, spa and aquatics industries....

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