A COMPLETE GUIDE:

Situational Selling in a remote sales world.


Learn how to run an effective virtual remote meeting that gives your team confidence and increases sales.

 

A COMPLETE GUIDE:

Situational Selling in a remote sales world.


Learn how to run an effective virtual remote meeting that gives your team confidence and increases sales.


INTRODUCTION

Are you organized in life? I mean, do you know where everything is? Your wallet/purse, car keys, your email passwords or what’s on the dinner menu tonight? If you’re like me, I actually fly by the seat of my pants most of the time when it comes to being prepared for any situation in real life. You know what? I get by - about as good as anyone can. Even though I can get away with this approach when it comes to day-to-day living, after all it’s my life and I answer only to me, this doesn’t fly in the workplace, being prepared for any situation can come at a cost of either lower or non-existent sales or losing a job. We'll examine how being prepared with a situational selling approach can improve work and life.

Image
Don’t crash and burn. In this guide we’ll help you understand situational sales and it’s benefits, review your current sales processes, and convert those processes into time saved, efficiencies gained and more customers landed .

INTRODUCTION

Are you organized in life? I mean, do you know where everything is? Your wallet/purse, car keys, your email passwords or what’s on the dinner menu tonight? If you’re like me, I actually fly by the seat of my pants most of the time when it comes to being prepared for any situation in real life. You know what? I get by - about as good as anyone can. Even though I can get away with this approach when it comes to day-to-day living, after all it’s my life and I answer only to me, this doesn’t fly in the workplace, being prepared for any situation can come at a cost of either lower or non-existent sales or losing a job. We'll examine how being prepared with a situational selling approach can improve work and life.
Image
Don’t crash and burn. In this guide we’ll help you understand situational sales and it’s benefits, review your current sales processes, and convert those processes into time saved, efficiencies gained and more customers landed .

What Is

SITUATIONAL SELLING?

Situational sales is more than just a buzzword, it’s built around how people consume content today. Think about it, when you are on Twitter or LinkedIn you are looking for content or news that is interesting, to you, or more importantly, your situation. You don’t want to wade through things that don’t apply to you or are of no interest, hoping to stumble across something that actual matters. Your customer is exactly the same way when they want to learn more about what you are offering. Merriam-Webster defines Situational as “relating to or dependent on a set of circumstances”. For most sales opportunities there could be many different circumstances as to how you got a sales meeting and what exact pain points a particular customer is seeking to alleviate. To be prepared to follow through with the ideal one that correlates to each particular customer, a successful sales associate has to be able to situationally present to a number of specific needs in a non-linear approach. To be good in any situation, they need to be able to read-and-react within the context of the customer interaction, turning a presentation into a conversation.
But what does this all mean when not being able to meet face-to-face with your customers and now having to sell remotely? A lot of sales reps have dreaded this new twist on sales but, selling remotely has jumped over 89% in the past four years for outside sales reps.1 The only rub here is that not everyone is onboard with this new change… Some buyers would rather meet in-person too, but that could also come at a cost.
Believe it or not, only 13% of customers believe a sales person can understand their needs. It's a difficult realization but there actually is a boatload of time wasted when presenting solutions or features of what you’re selling, all you need to do is ask questions and bring up information they’re specifically interested in within the flow of the interaction. With situational sales, and the right presentation tools, you can do just that.
Image

What Is

SITUATIONAL SELLING?

Situational sales is more than just a buzzword, it’s built around how people consume content today. Think about it, when you are on Twitter or LinkedIn you are looking for content or news that is interesting, to you, or more importantly, your situation. You don’t want to wade through things that don’t apply to you or are of no interest, hoping to stumble across something that actual matters. Your customer is exactly the same way when they want to learn more about what you are offering. Merriam-Webster defines Situational as “relating to or dependent on a set of circumstances”. For most sales opportunities there could be many different circumstances as to how you got a sales meeting and what exact pain points a particular customer is seeking to alleviate. To be prepared to follow through with the ideal one that correlates to each particular customer, a successful sales associate has to be able to situationally present to a number of specific needs in a non-linear approach. To be good in any situation, they need to be able to read-and-react within the context of the customer interaction, turning a presentation into a conversation.
But what does this all mean when not being able to meet face-to-face with your customers and now having to sell remotely? A lot of sales reps have dreaded this new twist on sales but, selling remotely has jumped over 89% in the past four years for outside sales reps.1 The only rub here is that not everyone is onboard with this new change… Some buyers would rather meet in-person too, but that could also come at a cost.
Image
Believe it or not, only 13% of customers believe a sales person can understand their needs. It's a difficult realization but there actually is a boatload of time wasted when presenting solutions or features of what you’re selling, all you need to do is ask questions and bring up information they’re specifically interested in within the flow of the interaction. With situational sales, and the right presentation tools, you can do just that.

How To Implement A

SITUATIONAL SALES STRATEGY?

Situational selling is built around the framework of understanding what exact situation you are in, and having the ability to respond with contextual materials that speak to that situation.
There are really 3 foundational situations that we are focused on:

Stage

Is it the first meeting you are having with this customer or is this a seasoned relationship?

Setting

Are you presenting face-to-face, remotely or at an event where circumstances might make it harder to get feedback cues?

Story

Do you have all necessary content for each particular situational path and answers that can drive the sale forward with a positive result?

How To Implement A

SITUATIONAL SALES STRATEGY?

Situational selling is built around the framework of understanding what exact situation you are in, and having the ability to respond with contextual materials that speak to that situation.
There are really 3 foundational situations that we are focused on:

Stage

Is it the first meeting you are having with this customer or is this a seasoned relationship?

Setting

Are you presenting face-to-face, remotely or at an event where circumstances might make it harder to get feedback cues?

Story

Do you have all necessary content for each particular situational path and answers that can drive the sale forward with a positive result?
Image
No matter what sales process your company uses now (Challenger method, Sandler training or the good old fashioned cold call) the three pillars of your situation need to be solidified prior to completing that process. By doing this you are able to situationally align your sales content to your sales process and can onboard new salespeople easier.

The

STAGE

You don’t need to “know” your client before getting to know your client. Sure, you can grasp what industry they’re in or else you wouldn’t have called on them. You know how much revenue they typically gain each year and have a good gauge of their potential pain points, but when walking into the STAGE pillar, know that this is a learning experience for both parties. Remember, this is making sure the situations are prepared for something to happen.

If this is a first time call, be prepared for the typical banter and rapport building. Know the stage you’re in and have some anecdotal references that prove you know their business. We are all adapting to working from home, try that! Success stories from past and current clients are always beneficial, as well as, knowing the territories they cover and how you can relate. Building call scripts or having an outline of how you can help rather than “sell” can make this process more impactful and efficient.

On the other hand, with a long standing relationship you should already know how your customer makes decisions. Maybe this is just a refresher of why they do business with you, maybe it’s a battle you’re preparing for to keep them on board; adaptation for that situation always needs to be in the back of your mind.

In either case, the ideal way here to set that STAGE is to start with their market or industry and let them fill in the blanks to what their needs are.

The

STAGE

You don’t need to “know” your client before getting to know your client. Sure, you can grasp what industry they’re in or else you wouldn’t have called on them. You know how much revenue they typically gain each year and have a good gauge of their potential pain points, but when walking into the STAGE pillar, know that this is a learning experience for both parties. Remember, this is making sure the situations are prepared for something to happen.

If this is a first time call, be prepared for the typical banter and rapport building. Know the stage you’re in and have some anecdotal references that prove you know their business. We are all adapting to working from home, try that! Success stories from past and current clients are always beneficial, as well as, knowing the territories they cover and how you can relate. Building call scripts or having an outline of how you can help rather than “sell” can make this process more impactful and efficient.

Image
On the other hand, with a long standing relationship you should already know how your customer makes decisions. Maybe this is just a refresher of why they do business with you, maybe it’s a battle you’re preparing for to keep them on board; adaptation for that situation always needs to be in the back of your mind.

In either case, the ideal way here to set that STAGE is to start with their market or industry and let them fill in the blanks to what their needs are.

The

SETTING

In today’s sales environment, it's getting more difficult to know how your sales teams are performing and if they are being as effective as they once were when they were on the road meeting with customers. While getting face-to-face with buyers might still be possible it’s definitely not as common as it was in previous years. Understanding your setting can lay the groundwork for how much time you are going to have and the amount of attention you will get.
B2B business isn’t done solely on hand shakes and golf outings anymore, although when it does happen, it’s pretty fun! There is a lot of noise in every industry out there, so how are you going to sell over what your competitor offers? If you are on the road and making in-person sales calls, you know the meeting is either going to be most likely in your client’s office or at a lunch meeting. Either way, there are always opportunities for obstacles to throw off your message. Have the confidence to be flexible. Maybe the meeting start time is running late or when you actually get in front of your customer, they are constantly interrupted by their own colleagues (after all, they are trying to run a business too). Be adaptable and take note that things might be running late or are offset because those are pain points they have no idea how to alleviate. Too often, we set a meeting and plan for it to go flawlessly from start to close, that is never the case.

By being flexible and ready to adapt, you not only show you can stay focused on their needs but also the creativity that you know the ins-and-outs of what you’re selling.

Alternately, a lot of us are pushed more to the virtual sales route nowadays. It is not ideal, I think you can agree. But being able to present more than just a sales sheet or your website that can take months to be updated, affords the flexibility to ask those important pain-point questions to your attendees. More than ever, our sales tools are always readily available, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or laptop, we use our devices for work everyday. A year ago, 30% of the business world knew about Zoom, now it’s used as an adjective when you’re sending a meeting invite, “I’ll send you a Zoom link”. Microsoft Teams, Skype, Webex all of these virtual meeting platforms exist to make business easier, not more complicated. But much like our teachers are forced to do more in their jobs when asked to educate the future during this pandemic, in business we are called on to do more than just pick up the phone and talk. Researchers have found that when it comes to memory, we don't remember things we hear nearly as well as things we see. So with that being said, these virtual meetings are actually pretty important and you better have something to SHOW!

No To PowerPoint
This begs the question of, “Are my sales reps rogue?” In the past I was guilty on more than one occasion of maybe “going off script” and promising something we might not do or offer. That not only hurt my credibility, I made others down the supply chain pay for my mistakes. Having a slew of streamlined messages that can situationally be presented is perfect for even the most rogue sales rep out there. Being able to present multiple company’s industries and solutions in one cohesive meeting custom-tailored to what my customer wants to know shows my knowledge of our products and their industry.

The key here is to be capable of executing a high-impact meeting, no matter what setting or situation you are in, and to have your customers experience your products, while gaining an understanding of why your company is “different” from all the others.

The

SETTING

In today’s sales environment, it's getting more difficult to know how your sales teams are performing and if they are being as effective as they once were when they were on the road meeting with customers. While getting face-to-face with buyers might still be possible it’s definitely not as common as it was in previous years. Understanding your setting can lay the groundwork for how much time you are going to have and the amount of attention you will get.
B2B business isn’t done solely on hand shakes and golf outings anymore, although when it does happen, it’s pretty fun! There is a lot of noise in every industry out there, so how are you going to sell over what your competitor offers? If you are on the road and making in-person sales calls, you know the meeting is either going to be most likely in your client’s office or at a lunch meeting. Either way, there are always opportunities for obstacles to throw off your message. Have the confidence to be flexible. Maybe the meeting start time is running late or when you actually get in front of your customer, they are constantly interrupted by their own colleagues (after all, they are trying to run a business too). Be adaptable and take note that things might be running late or are offset because those are pain points they have no idea how to alleviate. Too often, we set a meeting and plan for it to go flawlessly from start to close, that is never the case.
Informal Business meeting in restaurant man and woman with computers and smartphone

By being flexible and ready to adapt, you not only show you can stay focused on their needs but also the creativity that you know the ins-and-outs of what you’re selling.

Alternately, a lot of us are pushed more to the virtual sales route nowadays. It is not ideal, I think you can agree. But being able to present more than just a sales sheet or your website that can take months to be updated, affords the flexibility to ask those important pain-point questions to your attendees. More than ever, our sales tools are always readily available, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or laptop, we use our devices for work everyday. A year ago, 30% of the business world knew about Zoom, now it’s used as an adjective when you’re sending a meeting invite, “I’ll send you a Zoom link”. Microsoft Teams, Skype, Webex all of these virtual meeting platforms exist to make business easier, not more complicated. But much like our teachers are forced to do more in their jobs when asked to educate the future during this pandemic, in business we are called on to do more than just pick up the phone and talk. Researchers have found that when it comes to memory, we don't remember things we hear nearly as well as things we see. So with that being said, these virtual meetings are actually pretty important and you better have something to SHOW!

No To PowerPoint
This begs the question of, “Are my sales reps rogue?” In the past I was guilty on more than one occasion of maybe “going off script” and promising something we might not do or offer. That not only hurt my credibility, I made others down the supply chain pay for my mistakes. Having a slew of streamlined messages that can situationally be presented is perfect for even the most rogue sales rep out there. Being able to present multiple company’s industries and solutions in one cohesive meeting custom-tailored to what my customer wants to know shows my knowledge of our products and their industry.

The key here is to be capable of executing a high-impact meeting, no matter what setting or situation you are in, and to have your customers experience your products, while gaining an understanding of why your company is “different” from all the others.

The

STORY

Story is where the rubber meets the road. Have you ever spent a long night or two preparing for a big meeting the next day? Did you have every slide prepared perfectly? Did you cut out what you believed was irrelevant for this customer, and add in what you guessed was? Did you have all of the numbers and statistics memorized because you knew you were going to get asked? And then what happened the next day? I am envisioning what used to happen to me probably happened to you. I had everything perfect, PERFECT; then someone asked a question 8 minutes, and 9 slides in.
Everything was thrown off, my cadence, my confidence and most importantly my presentation. I believed I had an answer to their question, it was just 6 slides down the deck and if I skipped to it, I couldn’t go back and reset my message to where I was. And, if I decided to cut what I thought was not relevant to them to get the presentation deck down to the time I was allotted - I was sunk.

There I was, panicked and overwhelmed. I was sure I was ready ahead of time but evidently I wasn’t prepared. My story became disjointed and not specifically related to the customer.

The STORY pillar is the most important, because as we know if a movie or book doesn’t have a good story it’s a waste of time, much like my sales presentation was. We all know the phrase that; “content is king”.
But content that is lost, or impossible to bring up at the right time in a story - is pointless, and can be the downfall of the kingdom. Brochures in the trunk of a car, emails that date back a year and even a shared cloud-storage system that is supposed to be a great way to access materials simply are not the answer in today’s business world. You need to be better than someone who spends their time searching through a files & folder repository playing a “guess what I named that PDF” search game.

Some people believe that storytelling is an art, where you either are a great storyteller or you aren’t. Fortunately that’s not always the case in business.. Your ability to situationally convey your message is what separates your story telling from your counterparts in a similar sales role. To be effective, you need to situationally frame a story around commonalities with your customer and emphasize hard numbers or an emotional struggle depending on what resonates with their personalities. Either way, there’s a story to tell and being able to situationally bring up content that is relevant to your customer, is what will make you a successful storyteller in the end.
It should be framed much like a screenplay; a problem, hero and result.
The problem is your customer’s pain points. Is what they are using now not getting the job done? Do they need results quicker? Are they paying too much? Do they know they are losing money? These examples should be the frame around your whole story. Framing an engaging problem is paramount. The problem is the cornerstone for the entire message, make it something gripping and emphasize the problems of not only your direct attendees for your presentation but the company as a whole.
Silverlon Command App Tablet Argentum Medical
The hero of course is what you’re selling. How do you fight evil, how does your company kill the pain? This is where you can build a compelling story with facts, case studies and dynamic content. But, content alone does not always hold the attention of your audience. To be high-impact, it needs to get the customer involved, it needs to be interactive.

An interactive story requires an interactive solution like a sales app. But a quick word of caution, not all sales apps can deliver the interactivity you need.
Every company wants to be cutting-edge, high-tech. No one says, “No, we’re good, we’re just going to keep doing the bare minimum… it’s working for us.”PDFs were created in the 90s and email in the 1970s, they’re both still the standard for connecting businesses but they aren’t exactly “high-tech”. And let’s not forget PowerPoint, built in 1987 - Is that how you want to present your products? Don’t trap your customer in a linear story structure.

To truly sell depending on the situation you hear from your customer, a sales app that allows you to move around and present products or solutions non-linearly can help streamline your message. But, I know sometimes new technology can seem overwhelming, with thousands of companies using new technology daily, having a tech-adoption strategy can alleviate a lot of the naysayers.
Being a storyteller of your company and champion of your brand requires confidence and preparedness. But it doesn’t stop there. When the presentation begins, it's your job to continue to qualify and validate your story and its relevance to the buyer. Asking questions not only gives a back-channeling cue that they are paying attention, but they have a role to play in this story too. The story is a shared experience with the presenter and audience. Most likely it won’t always be one member in your “audience” and that’ll help get even better results and build your story. It’s always great to get feedback from multiple departments and personas that lead to building a stronger case for your solution and the ability to tackle multiple pain points. Presumably you won’t have all of the decision makers in the room, so a good story is important and will remain in their heads so they can take it and run the solution up the ladder.
Magical Story Book

The

STORY

Story is where the rubber meets the road. Have you ever spent a long night or two preparing for a big meeting the next day? Did you have every slide prepared perfectly? Did you cut out what you believed was irrelevant for this customer, and add in what you guessed was? Did you have all of the numbers and statistics memorized because you knew you were going to get asked? And then what happened the next day? I am envisioning what used to happen to me probably happened to you. I had everything perfect, PERFECT; then someone asked a question 8 minutes, and 9 slides in.
Everything was thrown off, my cadence, my confidence and most importantly my presentation. I believed I had an answer to their question, it was just 6 slides down the deck and if I skipped to it, I couldn’t go back and reset my message to where I was. And, if I decided to cut what I thought was not relevant to them to get the presentation deck down to the time I was allotted - I was sunk.

There I was, panicked and overwhelmed. I was sure I was ready ahead of time but evidently I wasn’t prepared. My story became disjointed and not specifically related to the customer.

The STORY pillar is the most important, because as we know if a movie or book doesn’t have a good story it’s a waste of time, much like my sales presentation was. We all know the phrase that; “content is king”.
But content that is lost, or impossible to bring up at the right time in a story - is pointless, and can be the downfall of the kingdom. Brochures in the trunk of a car, emails that date back a year and even a shared cloud-storage system that is supposed to be a great way to access materials simply are not the answer in today’s business world. You need to be better than someone who spends their time searching through a files & folder repository playing a “guess what I named that PDF” search game.

Some people believe that storytelling is an art, where you either are a great storyteller or you aren’t. Fortunately that’s not always the case in business.. Your ability to situationally convey your message is what separates your story telling from your counterparts in a similar sales role. To be effective, you need to situationally frame a story around commonalities with your customer and emphasize hard numbers or an emotional struggle depending on what resonates with their personalities. Either way, there’s a story to tell and being able to situationally bring up content that is relevant to your customer, is what will make you a successful storyteller in the end.
It should be framed much like a screenplay; a problem, hero and result.
The problem is your customer’s pain points. Is what they are using now not getting the job done? Do they need results quicker? Are they paying too much? Do they know they are losing money? These examples should be the frame around your whole story. Framing an engaging problem is paramount. The problem is the cornerstone for the entire message, make it something gripping and emphasize the problems of not only your direct attendees for your presentation but the company as a whole.
Silverlon Command App Tablet Argentum Medical
The hero of course is what you’re selling. How do you fight evil, how does your company kill the pain? This is where you can build a compelling story with facts, case studies and dynamic content. But, content alone does not always hold the attention of your audience. To be high-impact, it needs to get the customer involved, it needs to be interactive.

An interactive story requires an interactive solution like a sales app. But a quick word of caution, not all sales apps can deliver the interactivity you need.
Every company wants to be cutting-edge, high-tech. No one says, “No, we’re good, we’re just going to keep doing the bare minimum… it’s working for us.”PDFs were created in the 90s and email in the 1970s, they’re both still the standard for connecting businesses but they aren’t exactly “high-tech”. And let’s not forget PowerPoint, built in 1987 - Is that how you want to present your products? Don’t trap your customer in a linear story structure.

To truly sell depending on the situation you hear from your customer, a sales app that allows you to move around and present products or solutions non-linearly can help streamline your message. But, I know sometimes new technology can seem overwhelming, with thousands of companies using new technology daily, having a tech-adoption strategy can alleviate a lot of the naysayers.
Being a storyteller of your company and champion of your brand requires confidence and preparedness. But it doesn’t stop there. When the presentation begins, it's your job to continue to qualify and validate your story and its relevance to the buyer. Asking questions not only gives a back-channeling cue that they are paying attention, but they have a role to play in this story too. The story is a shared experience with the presenter and audience. Most likely it won’t always be one member in your “audience” and that’ll help get even better results and build your story. It’s always great to get feedback from multiple departments and personas that lead to building a stronger case for your solution and the ability to tackle multiple pain points. Presumably you won’t have all of the decision makers in the room, so a good story is important and will remain in their heads so they can take it and run the solution up the ladder.
Magical Story Book

Remote Sales is

easier and more productive

with a situational sales approach.

This year alone US companies spent $24B on print advertising which includes magazines, brochures and sales sheets. And where do these typically go? Eventually in the trash or recycling bin. Trade shows are postponed for the near future so that hopefully will take a dent out of that costly spend. We have all been to those trade shows that have trash cans overflowing steps from a booth. And, when using virtual meeting environments your customers will expect you to receive a digital doc immediately. They’re not going to wait to get a brochure in the mail.

WRAP UP -

Ready, Set,

SELL....

It’s time to take what you’ve learned and start implementing. Every salesperson and marketing team needs to learn to develop and sell situationally using the latest technology to help work smarter and be more productive.
  • Situational selling is being able to situationally present a number of specific needs in a non-linear approach to any customer in any industry.
  • Stage, Setting and Story frame up your situational sales message.
  • Stage pillar, either build rapport with your new audience or if they are a seasoned customer, focus on nuances and commonalities that have led you to this point.
  • Setting pillar, recognize if you are presenting face-to-face, remotely or at an event where circumstances might make it harder to get feedback cues.
  • Story pillar, have ALL necessary content for each particular situational path and answers that can drive the sale forward.
  • Post-meeting, get feedback from multiple departments and personas that lead to building a stronger case for your solution and the ability to tackle multiple pain points.
Successfully running a virtual or remote meeting can feel a little chaotic, why wouldn’t it be? You have to rely on customers making the effort to join, the potential for multiple attendees and the preparation to be able to address any question or need on the spot. When you take the time to successfully implement a situational sales app and take full advantage of their gracious time, they get the information they need and you get the ability to introduce your sales message, if not immediately get the sale.
To Learn more about how Situational Sales Apps and their high-impact interactivity can help your business, click here.
FREE DOWNLOAD!
Download the situational selling whitepaper now.

WRAP UP -

Ready, Set,

SELL....

It’s time to take what you’ve learned and start implementing. Every salesperson and marketing team needs to learn to develop and sell situationally using the latest technology to help work smarter and be more productive.
  • Situational selling is being able to situationally present a number of specific needs in a non-linear approach to any customer in any industry.
  • Stage, Setting and Story frame up your situational sales message.
  • Stage pillar, either build rapport with your new audience or if they are a seasoned customer, focus on nuances and commonalities that have led you to this point.
  • Setting pillar, recognize if you are presenting face-to-face, remotely or at an event where circumstances might make it harder to get feedback cues.
  • Story pillar, have ALL necessary content for each particular situational path and answers that can drive the sale forward.
  • Post-meeting, get feedback from multiple departments and personas that lead to building a stronger case for your solution and the ability to tackle multiple pain points.
Successfully running a virtual or remote meeting can feel a little chaotic, why wouldn’t it be? You have to rely on customers making the effort to join, the potential for multiple attendees and the preparation to be able to address any question or need on the spot. When you take the time to successfully implement a situational sales app and take full advantage of their gracious time, they get the information they need and you get the ability to introduce your sales message, if not immediately get the sale.
To Learn more about how Situational Sales Apps and their high-impact interactivity can help your business, click here.