Now is the time for companies to reposition themselves for the “new normal” of customer engagement in order to be successful as we emerge from the economic hardships resulting from the current health crisis.
In the midst of the COVID-19 disaster, we’re all seeing a paradigm shift in the way companies do business. The big question is what are companies doing to prepare for the lasting effects that will become the new “business as usual”, and how are they positioning themselves to come through this better equipped for success.
During universal crises that affect businesses across the world, those companies that are strategic and make adjustments to come out the other side rejuvenated are the ones that will not only survive, but in many cases thrive. Initiate projects that have been on your to-do list and revaluate your objectives for the year. Adjust the plan and outlook for 2020 as you figure more out about your business.
When faced with adversity, the companies that are strategic and resilient often rise from the ashes in a better position for the long haul.
For smaller, less flexible companies it’s often easier to pivot operations, strategies and processes in such a way that enables them to take advantage of the tough times. Due to their size and nimbleness of their executive structure they are able to make more universal changes in the way they do business. Their leaders are free to be decisive, and actions can be swift as they encounter less red tape.
Regardless of company size, all businesses should take this time to prepare themselves to accelerate as things get moving and we emerge from the current crisis. Those that rise to the challenge and modify their business strategies around marketing and sales will be the ones prepared to catch the next wave of prosperity.
Well, here you go. Below are 5 strategies to prepare your company for the next phase of economic recovery. This very well could be the steps in being able to keep your doors open and calm your employees and customers.
1) Create Situational Sales & Product Support Presentations
As companies react to the economic impact the coronavirus and its repercussions take on the world, sales and product support efforts need to exemplify a trusted advisor role. Companies need to do more than point customers to a website where they are left to search for answers on their own. It’s critical for companies to be able to have a personal interaction with their customers in this time of anxiety and worry. As customer interactions move to mainly virtual meetings, businesses need to be able to interact with sales reps or product support team members in a manner that takes them on a journey unique to their specific situation and need.
Presentations need to have context around them that not only relates to the customer, but allows them to participate in the interaction and how it plays out. Presentations need to be interactive and allow reps to easily deliver high-impact materials at the right time in their communications. They need to be able to turn the presentation into a conversation as they address questions and concerns instantly with content relative to the customer’s specific needs.
Additionally, companies should prepare a revised digital presentation strategy surrounding the various communication tracks that coincide with all potential customer interactions. Companies need to put together a tactical spreadsheet that covers the context of every potential customer engagement approach. This comprehensive document will function as a punch list for delivering specific content to coincide with the company’s updated situational communication strategy.
Once companies have their content created, they can quickly put it to use when coupled with an interactive mobile tool such as Command.App that allows the sales rep to situationally navigate to specific presentation tracks for each product/service, market solution, problem/solution scenario, work application and/or customer persona type. Great solutions have this ability to adapt on the fly as reps read and react to the customer with ease. Situational selling and true customer engagement is the key to turning your sales and product support teams into a force to be reckoned with as we move forward in today’s new business environments.
2) Shore Up Sales Enablement Processes & Technologies
Even before the healthcare crisis, studies showed that buyers were approaching the decision to purchase a product or service in a different manner than they did five years ago.
Customers would go through the process of doing their due diligence via website research, and often enter into conversations with prospective companies more prepared with specific questions or concerns. They would expect the seller to start the presentation at the point where they were in their buyer’s journey. More often than not, companies were failing, stuck in their status quo approach of having to treat all customers the same due to their lack of a good tech driven approach. Even today, when tasked to deliver presentations that can be tailored to specific customer needs, businesses are falling short due to inadequacies in their presentation technologies. Many are stuck trying to use antiquated tech that traps users in linear presentations, or are left to their own devices to dig through files and folders, searching for the materials they need.
In some cases, companies fallback to a tactic that is primed for failure. They ask reps to take it upon themselves to customize a presentation for their customers. So, they spend a little bit of time researching and preparing a presentation deck that hopefully hits the mark. They take existing content and reassemble pieces in a presentation deck they assume will focus on the needs of the customer. The problem with this approach is that many times the reps get midway through their presentations only to realize they left out something that is critically important to the customer, and they end up scrambling around to try to find it. Repeatedly they have to resort to saying; “I’ll have to get back to you on that later”, which drags out the sales cycle and reflects poorly on the company’s ability to deliver quick results.
In different circumstances during presentations, reps realize that they added slides that as a result of the conversation now seem irrelevant to the customer’s needs, and they have to quickly step through them as the customer waits, losing interest. These preconceived “custom” presentations are often rigid in how they end up being presented, and when left to the whims of the reps themselves, they may or may not be on brand or on message. Choosing the right technology that can deliver the type of presentations that customers expect in today’s high-tech world, while also keeping content on brand, on message and on target is paramount to an effective sales enablement strategy.
3) Focus on Complete Customer Engagement
Businesses often think of customer engagement optimization opportunities in terms of what advertising agencies have delivered as far as responsive websites and automated marketing services. While these are valuable components of the customer engagement process, they are not delivering on what some believe is the most critical component; the personal customer interaction whether it be face-to-face, or in online virtual meeting environments.
Companies now more than ever need to bridge the gap between marketing and sales, and sales and the customer. So much time, money, energy, and effort is put into bringing products to market… only to FAIL at THIS critical point where specific customers needs are expressed.
The facts are this:
- 65% of the materials that marketing creates never gets used with customers.
- 82% of decision makers think that reps are unprepared.
- 90% of buyers want reps to share more specific content. Content specific to their markets, their jobs and pain points.
It’s hard to believe that in today’s high-tech world, reps are struggling to connect with customers and sales cycles and product support sessions are dragging on and on. The reasons behind all of these issues is the lack of control. The methods companies are using do nothing more than push content out to the field only to get lost in files and folders. And, many of the technologies being used for customer engagement are woefully ineffective when it comes to presenting content, and gathering data relative to the customer’s position within their buying journey.
To bridge the gap between marketing and sales departments, companies need to deploy a technology that allows them to build, manage and deploy their ultimate digital briefcase with all their materials to the mobile devices their reps use every day. It needs to not only house all the sales collateral, but be able to dynamically present that material in a manner that is consistent with the way their customers expect to be engaged. In addition, it needs to be easy to implement, easy to use, and easy to update, otherwise it will not get the user adoption it needs to be successful. Complete customer engagement ends at that point in the process where the rubber meets the road, and deals get done. The right solution in this critical area is often the difference between success and failure.
4) Revise Marketing and Sales Presentation Content
In preparation for the “new normal” that takes place after a universal global crisis, company’s need to complete an audit of their communication materials to determine that their overall message style and tone reflect the new conditions that their customers may find themselves in at this time.
The audit should include an evaluation of outward bound marketing content, internal training content, and customer facing presentation content in order to encompass a full analysis. Once complete, companies should immediately put together a plan to update any outdated or no longer relevant materials. Additionally, companies should prepare a digital presentation strategy surrounding the various communication tracks that coincide with all potential customer interactions. To create a comprehensive list, companies need to put together a spreadsheet that covers the context of every potential customer engagement approach.
These situational presentation tracks are often placed under the following categories divided up by the various ways in which customers could engage with a sales rep and/or product support team member. Think of this in terms of how a customer conversation would begin and flow. Every customer has a pathway in which they feel most comfortable in pursuing to get the answers they want to satisfy a need. In order to accommodate such an approach, the rep needs a technology that can provide the flexibility to execute a ‘choose your own adventure story’, the rep has to have the flexibility to determine if the presentation makes sense to begin by pursuing a conversation around:
How to make situational selling work for your industry:
- Product Type
- Service Type
- Market Type
- Work Application
- Problem / Solution Application
- Sales Technique (either mandated or preferred by the company)
Once a company knows where the customer conversations can go, they can then prepare the communication content that coincides with the various tracks. If using a presentation platform such as Command.App, the content can be put into place and deployed to the field in a strategic manner that controls the message while providing the flexibility for the reps to engage on their terms. A technical solution that provides easy pathways to content update and ensures version control is also key.
5) Take Action Sooner Than Later
The time to take action is now. If companies want to get through this crisis and move forward with purpose, then they need to make some critical decisions, and get moving ahead sooner rather than later. They need to manage the current needs, and lead to make the best out of tomorrow’s new “business as usual”.
“Crises, replete with both complexity and change, require executives to both lead and manage effectively. Addressing the urgent needs of the present is the work of management. You need to make immediate choices and allocate resources. The pace is fast, and actions are decisive.Leading, by contrast, involves guiding people to the best possible eventual outcome over this arc of time. Your focus needs to be on what is likely to come next and readying to meet it. That means seeing beyond the immediate to anticipate the next three, four, or five obstacles.”
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By adopting a situational communication strategy that is paired with technology platforms that can deliver on a multitude of customer engagement opportunities, companies will position themselves to emerge from this time of crisis to be ready for anything, and prepared for everything. Contact us today to help prepare for igniting your next steps in the marketplace.