Among the biggest adjustments that sales teams have had to make during this global pandemic is the transition to virtual selling. Reps are used to building relationships—and making sales—face to face. But obviously, that’s not possible now.
While to many this new virtual reality may seem like a significant obstacle, I see this as an opportunity to: to shift closer to our clients, to be a critical resource for them, and to serve as a strategic thought partner at a time when they need it most. The sales team at Bloomberg Media continues to work at high velocity. On average, they're doing about 100 meetings per week—a number which has actually increased recently—with the belief that if we’re able to invest the time now, we’ll build stronger and more lasting relationships for the future.
As leaders, we have to hire and train our teams to rise to the virtual challenge, which means our processes must evolve. A few years ago I created a blueprint for coaching sales reps called “The Modern-Day Seller,” which includes three catalysts: ownership, speed, and ideas. At the time I first wrote it, I could have never imagined the unprecedented challenges facing us this year. However, I believe that by focusing on these few fundamental principals, media sales professionals can adapt to weather any storm.
I speak about it more in the video below:
Ownership Drives Success
Ownership encompasses many things, and the first theme here is strategy. I tell sales reps: “Be the quarterback of your top accounts.” One easy way to do this is to follow your client’s communications through social listening via Twitter and LinkedIn.
- What are your top accounts doing?
- What's their CMO doing?
- What's the CMO’s strategy?
Teams also need to be diligent about CRM hygiene—keep that data quality high so it doesn’t slow the sales process. Our industry is moving so quickly, it’s important we keep abreast of industry trends to inform our understanding of your accounts and prospects. At Bloomberg Media, we power this understanding through data from Bloomberg Intelligence, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (a research organization for energy investments), and our newsroom, as well as our proprietary AI tools, to provide clients with insights on their industry, their business and the competitive marketplace.
The third piece is full account coverage. Foster relationships with all of the influencers and stakeholders that impact your potential customers. As I mentioned previously, now is a great time to invest in making those connections, as many people are open to emails and virtual conversations about how we can work together.
Finally, review your results. Find the obstacles to your path to success, and strive to overcome them by outworking the competition. Set an hour on your calendar every week to prospect, and be disciplined about it. Mental toughness matters.
Move Fast, Think Fast
Speed matters when it comes to sales. I coach my reps on the power of flexibility and a willingness to shift on a dime. Have a sense of urgency. Commit to an action, do it, and move on.
For example, getting ahead of the request for proposal process can vault your company ahead of the competition. Don’t wait for the customer to tell you what they want—reach them first with your own ideas to show them that you really understand their industry and can help them drive creative change.
Ideas transform us, and at Bloomberg Media we have always taken an entrepreneurial approach to differentiate ourselves from other publishers, and develop strong ideas that set us apart. Bloomberg Green offers one such example. We launched a new multi-platform editorial brand in January dedicated to climate and sustainability. It’s a great example of how we’re able to build deeper connections with our audience and our partners, across multiple formats, around topics we know they care about.
Trends and the Future of Modern-Day Selling
Modern-day selling is really about inputs. It's about doing the things that you can control: Your prospecting, the amount of meetings you set up, how you rehearse, how you operate inside the organization.
These days, anyone who has engaged in collaboration software on the tech side is doing well. In some ways, the future has become now. Tech firms have sped up their collaboration launches from five years to five months, which also correlates with the trends that we have been seeing in advertising.
Now more than ever we understand that empathy matters. It allows sales reps to walk in a client's shoes, understand their experiences and challenges, and then support those needs, which in turn creates everlasting relationships.
As sales team leaders, we must also turn that empathy inward. Most of my team members, for example, are currently managing new work-from-home scenarios. Some are balancing multiple children. They're dealmakers and they are summer camp counselors at the same time. At Bloomberg Media, we believe that our people are our greatest asset, and we must take a supportive and collaborative approach to advancing our sales efforts. It is the only way we can continue to grow in this constantly shifting landscape.
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