The landscape of many high touch sales engagements has been changing slowly for the better part of a decade, but largely has been kept intact because of the extreme importance of a great customer relationship and its effect on sales numbers, interest, and retention. As the world has experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing an acceleration in the shift to transform how these relationships are created and maintained that ultimately has many companies at a loss for how to move forward.
Here are some principles that we’ve seen that have been successful in navigating this new chapter of high touch sales from the perspective of a company that currently has a mobilized salesforce.
Sales Reps are still important
It’s important to mention that sales reps have a valuable job, and that the best technology isn’t out to remove the role of the sales rep in maintaining those relationships. There is inherent value in a real person being available instead of a faceless corporation or the most hated “bot.” Instead, we look at technology to enable the sales rep to do their job with a higher level of professionalism and efficiency.
In a consumer model, most technology-only plays focus on the CAC (customer acquistion cost) and attempt to democratize their offering by considerably lowering the cost of entry. This approach requires a 100% self service model in which elaborate documentation, easy-to-use interactions, a knowledgebase, and generally a low price. For many business models today that have high dollar purchases and complex sales processes, this is not an option.
Change the rep responsibility
Sales reps are the front lines of your organization and, in many types of businesses, spend a good amount of their time placing orders on behalf of customers. This process involves navigating a number of different systems, communicating the right price in an attractive way, upselling the customer, and giving the customer visibility into their order. All of these tasks, (while important), detract from the purpose of the sales rep to begin with.
Technology can be used to offload these responsibilities to the customers themselves who often prefer it, and to let the sales rep spend their time building a meaningful and influential relationship. We’ve found that in technology-enabled organizations that prioritize “sales doing sales” tend to have a much greater emphasis on customers using the tools given to them and use their rep for education and support.
Empower the rep with data
Transparency and visibility to your reps on their sales performance, prospecting, and customer ordering status can have a monumental impact on their ability to make informed decisions. The upsell process requires a level of trust and that can be accelerated by a rep by their willingness to volunteer pricing information, shipping statuses, order credits, RMA’s, etc.
Empowering sales reps with clear, concise and actionable data around their customers and their own performance incentivizes them to nurture existing relationships and build new ones. The best reps in high touch sales environments know their customers behaviors and habits, but often are at the mercy of their tools. Technology can shorten the decade of experience in selling to a specific customer vertical required to mere months.