The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

The Skills That Will Strengthen Your Sales Team’s Remote Selling Style

Mine existing accounts, focus on empathy and serve customers the way they want to be served.
Young man calling with headset. Online lesson. Customer support

Leading up to MDM’s annual Sales GPS conference, we’ve done things a bit differently this year. In recognition of the continually changing sales environment brought on by COVID-19-related restrictions, we’ve been holding monthly calls for registered attendees to help distributors adjust and optimize not just sales departments but also overall business operations.

The entire MDM audience is invited to our next roundtable, happening Tuesday, July 21, at 2 p.m. EDT. We would love to have you join us. As an example of what you can expect, here are some key takeaways from the speakers who participated in our June roundtable:

Analyze Customers Accounts for Growth Opportunities

John Gunderson, VP of analytics and e-business at MDM, addressed the untapped potential in existing customer accounts that comes from too often taking a reactive approach to customers — especially smaller accounts.

  • Typically, you can only get about one-third of a customer’s wallet share. This makes it a good idea to map how much of their buying potential you already own and focus on accounts with greater opportunity for growth.
  • You may have to adjust your coverage plan for smaller customers, reconsider who calls on them, adjust pricing and segment by customer to improve profitability.
  • Bringing in big, new accounts is great, but what are you doing about the customers that only buy from you when they have to? Make sure you’re mining data on existing customers where you already paid the price to set up the account.

Soft Selling Skills Make Strong Salespeople

Colleen Stanley, president and founder of SalesLeadership Inc., talked about shifts in attitude toward remote selling and sales management since the start of the pandemic and why the soft skill of emotional intelligence is stronger than ever.

  • Distributors have been doing remote selling sales management for a long time (think: a sales manager with a 100-member team scattered across territories countrywide). It does not have to be anxiety-invoking, but distributor managers do need to focus on video conferencing skills and time management in a new, remote environment.
  • People are especially busy now with very little available time. Sales teams need to demonstrate expertise right away with customized value propositions for each type of buyer.
  • When you have a new buyer and you need to rework your value proposition, empathy is key. What is a day in the life like for that buyer? What pressures are they facing? Demonstrating empathy demonstrates expertise.
  • Account execs, be purposeful about handing customers to customer service reps to follow up with service so that they feel taken care of and the account exec is freed up to build more business.

Lessons from Timely Sales Management Scenarios

Mike Marks and Mike Emerson of Indian River Consulting Group reviewed real-life sales situations and discussed potential solutions to the issues.

  • First example: A distributor took a big hit in March when COVID-19 shut things down. He promised his sales team a certain amount of compensation through June and doesn’t know what to do starting with July because business has not picked back up. Emerson recommended pursuing a PPP loan, if they haven’t already. Other options included forced vacation time, replacing someone less skilled in another department with a skilled sales team member, or a reduction in force. An alternative is to increase the commission percentage for business taken away from competitors. Be proactive under existing conditions rather than reactive, waiting for the market to change.
  • Second example: A top salesperson reaches out to a competitor saying she’s not happy with her company and wants to jump ship. The competitor is interested but nervous about the large monthly salary guarantee she wants. Emerson cautioned to be wary of a salesperson’s promise that they will bring all of their business with them — the most is about two-thirds. Guaranteeing a large sum of money for an extended period of time is not a great idea in today’s environment, he added.
  • Third example: A distributor with separate inside and outside sales teams had customers get comfortable working with inside sales during the pandemic shutdown. The state opened back up and the outside sales guys are unhappy with the boss’s directive that they work on new accounts and let the inside team handle existing business. Emerson noted it was less of a sales compensation issue and more of a management issue. He recommended the boss communicate to the outside sales team the company’s mission and plan to grow revenue. And, to serve customers the way they want to be served.

MDM’s July 21 roundtable, hosted by CEO Tom Gale and Mike Marks of Indian River Consulting Group, will lead will provide additional insights into how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the rules of engagement for effective sales teams. Register today to reserve your seat.

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