Ulrich Ermel, VP Sales Europe, Conrad Electronic SE
In a hopefully soon post-COVID era, sales teams have been urging for a new normal professional life for two years now. In my view it has finally come true in 2022 as they successfully managed to merge advantages of in-person meetings with digital meetings. The evolving hybrid state of their work makes them and their customers act together in an even better way than ever before. In-person meetings do now have the strongest value since the late 80ies and efficiency has significantly increased in customer/sales interactions by using virtual meetings.
Is this sales’ leaders’ heaven or just a standard reaction to the extrinsic circumstances? Pretending that sales is primarily driven by intrinsic motivation, my personal experience clearly shows that sales can easily become much more outstanding in days of high uncertainty in the market. A couple of years ago, sales people in Europe would have really loved to interact digitally with their customers, but customers did simply refuse digital interaction with a “please do not bother me with making me download this non-standard communication software our corporate IT will not allow”.
In a post-COVID era, digital communication with Teams, Zoom or Hangout has become a commodity. The customer/sales interaction is a clear winner. People do not have to waste time for traveling, can use it for getting together digitally and to get things done. Is this the ultimate completion of social sales interaction?
Having more active time in customer interaction does make life for some unskilled sales people even more miserable as they need to keep up customers’ attention with real content and less small talk or field sales jokes. The KPI days of minimum customer visits per day and cheep hotel bookings are long gone. Modern sales people love this new additional customer time and bring in more factual benefits for the customers. Especially in hightech sales it is essential to outline the various advantages in a customer centric perspective in short but focused online meetings.
"Skilled sales people can now immediately deliver relevant advantages to the customer within seconds"
But not only communication tools have made sales more successful in the last years. With the thirst for content, guided selling tools like BAO or others have experienced a great revival. It became really easy to share sales expertise in customer interaction by the introduction of online guided selling tools that are embedded into leading CRM systems. Repeating a former one-off sales success has never been easier than today in hightech electronics. Combined with a high level of sales training on products/solutions, guided selling tools have a huge impact on today's sales performances. The good news is that customers will benefit from this in the same way as they bring real value to the customer/sales interaction and prevent both parties from value-less chit-chatting about weather and last weekends’ experiences. Skilled sales people can now immediately deliver relevant advantages to the customer within seconds.
Is this the end of personal interaction and the killer of social interaction? Combining factual customer relevant information with a personal touchpoint like a lunch or dinner from time to time will not kill the relationship and social interaction; it will level up relationships between customer and sales teams. These days in Europe, it is not about factual advantages for the customer solely, as the Ukraine’s crisis once more outlined Maslow's pyramid fundament: safety. The pursuit for safety does not only affect individuals but also organizations. It is the sales people bringing in the faith and optimism, which no sales technology can deliver, but strongly committed and positive humans can. They will be there to support the customer in challenging times with trust, reliability and optimism for a better future even if the world turns upside down once more. And yes, in hightech electronics we will not take advantage of this situation and sell an inappropriate safety assurance to our customers. Worldwide hightech electronic sales people will be there to assist towards a better future, as we have done for decades urging for progress.