TOPIC of the DAY: what are the changes we need to make in how we need to be selling long term in this social distance economy.

Mark Hunter:

That’s a pretty cool video. You like that?

Meridith Elliott Powell:

I love it. I think that it really emphasizes just how powerful and energetic sales is.

Mark Hunter:

And I think because we’re both passionate about it. So hey, we should jump into an episode. So, I guess we’re recording this. Not only are we showing and streaming this live, but we’re recording this next piece, especially for our podcast coming up. So hey, why don’t I count it down and then Mer why don’t you go ahead and kick it off. How does that sound?

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Sounds like a plan.

Mark Hunter:

Three, two, one.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Hi, this is Meridith Elliott Powell. Welcome to Sales Logic, the show where we dive into the strategies, the techniques, the logical solutions you need to sell more effectively. And I am here with my cohost today Mark Hunter.

Mark Hunter:

Hey, thank you for having me. And while of course I’m always on every week, it’s cohost, we get to do this together because it is Sales Logic, and you know what? Meridith, we got some great content we’re going to share today. The question we’re going to do a deep dive into is what are the changes we need to make in how we need to be selling long term in this social distance economy? That’s a topic that people are really talking about, but hey, what do we always do before that?

Meridith Elliott Powell:

We always take an audience question. We always have a listener question. We usually have a lot every week, but we pick the one that’s most related to our topic. So, I think now’s a good time to basically jump in to that question. So Mark, I’m going to go ahead and read the question today. It is from Ashley in Redondo Beach, California. She wants some ideas as to how to start prospecting calls and how to start off prospecting calls when she’s reaching prospects, working from home. Do I start off asking how they’re doing with COVID-19? What a good question, because really most people that we are prospecting on, even though they’re businesses, they’re at home, right? So, is it different? So, what do you think, Mark? You go ahead and jump in.

Mark Hunter:

Well, it is, it is a BFH environment, buying from home environment. What’s funny is I would have answered this question differently a few weeks ago, because a few weeks ago at the start of the pandemic, it was a-okay to talk about COVID right up front. In fact, it was interesting. I saw a study that said this is early on, this probably goes back to first part middle early February maybe, middle part February, that if you put COVID in the subject line, your email has got a very high open rate. Now it’s a disaster. It’s a flat out disaster. So, I don’t think you start off talking about COVID at all. I’m way past. I’m burned out from having people ask me about COVID. I don’t know about you.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Yeah, absolutely. I was telling you before we started this podcast today that I had the opportunity last night to speak with the amazing Sherry Levitan, which is somebody we should probably have on as a guest right now, she really is quite a sales dynamo. But I was asking her about how do you prospect in today’s environment? Is there anything that you need to do differently? And she said, you don’t need to be doing anything differently, but you need to remember that successful salespeople are a combination of empathy and courage. You have to have empathy with people because people have to feel that you care. And then you need to have the courage to ask for business and sell them products and services. And she said, it takes both sides, but it takes those in order. So, I think to help Ashley here in Redondo Beach, California is I don’t think you ask about COVID. I mean, I think that people are burned about it, but I do think you need to start every call with how are you doing? How are things because you don’t know. Some of your prospects may be doing unbelievably well. I called on somebody the other day in an industry that I thought was in trouble and they are doing unbelievably well. They’ve pivoted, they’ve reinvented themselves. So, how are you doing? How are things? Is going to gain you permission to have a conversation, a good sales conversation.

Mark Hunter:

See, and that’s so key, not assuming you know what their position is. You have to ask them what their position is. And what I always say is, in fact it’s funny, I was doing a webinar for a client here just a couple hours ago and the same question arose. And I’m really stressing, no lead off with the subject, lead off with that question, be business on. Now, you’ve got to do it with empathy and you’ve got to do it with courage, and I love what Sherry said there that EC, I love that. But here’s the whole thing. You allow that to come through in the conversation. Few weeks ago, I coined a phrase what’s the person’s backstory. And you got to really know what their backstory is both personal and professional. Especially during this pandemic environment we’re in and even post pandemic, because this is going to be with us for a while, but you allow that to flow naturally. You don’t try to say it, let’s get this out on the table right now. I’m burned out of that. I’m tired of people asking me that.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Mark, I think what we’re telling Ashley in a nutshell is that you’ve got to be focused on the customer needs before you’re focused on your own needs. It’s the same old play, that it’s always been. The challenge is, in a crisis, if you skip empathy, then people feel like you’re focused on your own goals and your own needs. And that’s really tone deaf in today’s environment.

Mark Hunter:

Oh, that’s more than tone deaf. That’s just playing stupid, which really, I think brings up another point that I think we’re all getting right now an MBA in sales. We’re all getting an MBA in sales, because these are skills that, again, Sales Logic that’s what we talk about it. These are really logical skills, but they never got developed. We never develop them. And I think right now during this period, we’re really having to learn how to listen and understand and be able to guide where the conversation’s going and not to control the conversation, but to guide it by us being the one that adds that little piece. How can we add this to be able to get you to be able to share more?

Mark Hunter:

Because along with that courage, that means you got to be willing to ask questions and you have to be willing to share comments that, oh, can I go there? No, you need to go there. Because again, we have to be seen as that person who can help the customer. And sometimes they don’t know we can help them, so we have to be there.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Well, and I think now more than ever people need help, right? I mean, your customers are trying to figure the biggest thing that I’m getting back is people are struggling with the path forward and whatever you sell, whatever you do, you’re a part of that process for how to help them move forward. And if you don’t listen, which empathy is a big piece of listening, you’re not going to know to use your language, their backstory. And you’re not going to know what the next opportunity is and how you should guide the conversation.

Mark Hunter:

Yeah. And with that really comes this critical piece, that prospecting is as important today as ever. I’m still running into people out there who say, “oh, I can’t prospect until this whole thing’s over.” Well, guess what? It may not be over a long time and you’re not going to be in business. Prospecting works. It works. Hey we should-

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Yeah. And I feel like … Well, I just want to say that I feel like, I just want to say that it’s important because this week I’m starting to feel a little different turn in the air and that people are starting to say, okay, this is our new normal no matter how long, not sure how long it’ll last, but we’ve got to start to do business in this environment. And if you’re not prospecting right now, you’re missing a lot of opportunity.

Mark Hunter:

I think with that, and with that, let’s pivot into that topic because today’s topic is what are the changes we need to make now to be really ready to be selling long-term in this social distance economy. So, what are you seeing? What are you hearing? What are you telling your clients?

Meridith Elliott Powell:

The biggest thing that I’m seeing is that people who used to sell face to face, now have to sell either the phone or online. And they’re struggling with really how to make that shift, really struggling with the false belief that if you sold face to face, it’s too big a shift to start to be able to do it online. And or, if you’ve got to do it online now, really what does that process look like and how do you do it? That’s the biggest question that I’m getting from people right now.

Mark Hunter:

I agree. That’s the question I hear. And this is the piece that I’m telling people, get over it, don’t worry about it because guess what? It’s the same thing for the buyer. See, many times the buyers were one who were used to be buying face to face, or they buy by way of trade shows. They buy by way of things, well, that’s changed for them too. So, this really is an equal playing field and you’ve got to become comfortable with it. And this is where I tell people, let your personality come through. It’s okay to be you because really the rules of business have changed dramatically. How many phone calls have you had in the last month or Zoom calls where some kid has come running through the screen or some dog is barking. Yes, I mean, right? I mean, or how many times have you been in a meeting where the person’s like … Right now, I’m wearing a dress shirt, but I’m just wearing jeans and that’s not normally what I would wear to an office environment in many, many situations. So again, the rules or what we have to get used to is that it is changed, but you’ve got to be out there. Something I saw yesterday and very concerning. A few weeks ago, I saw the numbers that 40% of all businesses get all their leads by way of trade shows, and of course trade shows are gone. Well, it’s very interesting. There’s a new virtual trade show software package that’s out there. And a gentleman shared with me how he just participated in a virtual trade show. Wow, is it engaging. He walked me through a few screenshots and it was incredible, he could walk into the booth, really like an avatar walk into the booth and have a conversation, and then they could take you over to a Zoom, if you wanted to have a Zoom call with them, you could do a chat with them, all kinds of things. But here’s the whole thing, the rules are changing. Now, I can’t sit here and say, well, gee, 40% of my leads are no longer by trade show. So, I guess I just have to sit here and wait. No, this is where prospecting becomes more important. In fact, what’s interesting is another study I saw is that there are more sales calls being made today. Physical sales calls on the telephone than there have been for several years. It’s amazing because people know that if they want to create leads, they got to pick up the phone and make the call.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Yeah, I would agree with that. I feel like there are some things that are definitely going to stay the same, right? I mean, if I’m on a video with somebody or I’m on a telephone call with somebody I’m still going about it the same way, I’m still making sure that I’m asking really good open ended questions. I’ve done my research ahead of time. I’m really listening. I understand where they’re trying to go and matching my product or service to solve their problems. I still got to follow up strategy in place. What’s different is you’ve got to figure out what the obstacles or resistance that your customers or prospects are going to have now. I mean, some of that may be the fact that it’s going to take longer to build relationship and connection. Some people won’t want to fool with that anymore because time is of the essence and they want to get on with things. You’ve got to think about, I love this idea of a virtual tour, and because what is limiting your customer into really understanding your product or service and what are some of the new things that you’re going to need to come up with? I’ve been working with a lot of pharmaceutical reps lately and they’re used to going into the hospital and being able to show the physicians their product and how it works and things like that. And those days are gone at least for a while. So, you’ve got to figure out how to provide the same information and the same service with the different tools.

Mark Hunter:

With that comes this thing called screen time and think about it, all of us are facing a lot more screen time. Right now, people are watching us, because we happen to be doing this live right now. You could be watching us on YouTube or Facebook or whatever, or you’re listening to an audio. But what this means is there’s more engagement happening screen time. And what’s going to happen is the quality of the screen time. I remember you and I arranged a call the other day and we both said, let’s just do it on the phone, because we’re so Zoomed out, right, right?

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Yeah.

Mark Hunter:

You do, you get Zoomed. But what this is going to mean is from a sales perspective, we have to make sure that when we have you on the screen, we are engaging you. And what this means is this means the demo call, oh, the demo becomes more painful than ever because people are sitting in front of the screen all day long. So believe me, you’ve got to take your demo and make it the demo call. You’ve got to make it far more interactive, far more engaging. You got to pull the customer into the conversation. It’s not a lecture, it’s not, because otherwise they’re going to tune you out very, very quickly.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

And I really do think that people want to participate. I was just doing something earlier this morning where I was with a client and they had me give a little bit of information to the team. And the CEO said, “Will you stay for another half hour and answer questions?” And I thought, okay, but nobody’s going to ask me questions. I really didn’t have much faith in it. And I was on there for another 45 minutes. I think that people are getting comfortable with video. They’re getting comfortable with engaging this way and they want to engage. So, I think that’s a great point. You’ve really got to look at your sales presentations and ask yourself, have you made them engaging? Have you made them two way? I think the other thing we have to be sensitive is not wasting people’s time. And that’s just given, I always say that a sales call is a privilege, but I think in a time of crisis, it’s even more of a privilege because people are busy. They don’t have time to fool around with things that are not going to save them money, produce them revenue, or put them one step closer to getting out of this crisis. So, you better be showing up with something that’s really useful. So, I think doing our research ahead at a time, coming prepared is more important than ever.

Mark Hunter:

Spot on with that, because here’s the whole thing. I think people’s time initially, they may have felt they had a lot of time, now I don’t know. Well, I know we have both talked about it. Our schedules are packed tighter than ever. And the thing I know you used to spend a lot of time on the road. I used to spend a lot of time on the road. I don’t know how we found time to travel. I mean, it’s amazing, and our customers are in the same situation. So, we have to be very, very mindful on that. So hey, with that, we should respect people’s time. We should jump into the Lightning Round. So, let me throw the Lightning Round question out. Quick tips on how to sell to industries that are still in chaos. What’s a quick tip?

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Oh great. Okay. So one quick tip for selling into industries that are still in chaos is number one, figure out what their biggest pain point is and provide value. I’ll just give you a quick example, Mark and I work quite a bit with meeting planners and while we’re trying to sell some virtual services, those meeting planners have never put on a virtual event. So, one thing that I’m doing is helping them with finding tech companies and producers that can help them put on virtual events. So, solve the pain point even if it’s not the product and service you sell.

Mark Hunter:

Perfect. I’m going to add, keep it simple. Keep your solution very simple because industries that are in chaos are changing rapidly and you have to make sure that what you provide to them is simple and easy to implement right now because they don’t have time to make long decisions. And if they did have time, who knows by the time who knows what will have changed?

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Yeah. I would say that position yourself to be part of the path forward. I mean, eventually these industries that are in chaos may find a path out still being exactly the business that they are now, or they may have to sell a different product or service. So, position yourself as part of that resource that is going to help them move their industry to the very next level. In other words, position yourself with a product or service, a resource that helps them get unstuck.

Mark Hunter:

I’m going to add another one. Look to see who their customers are. In other words, look downstream. Industries that are in chaos, many times they’re in chaos because there’s something else going on downstream. What can you learn downstream? What can you bring back up to them? You more than ever need to be the customers’ research and development department. You are their R&D. It’s your job to help bring them ideas. What does this do? It helps them see that there is a way out of the situation that they’re in. The biggest thing we’re seeing right now is nothing is constant. Nothing is constant. Change is the only thing that’s constant. It’s our duty as a salesperson to help guide them through that. How about one more from you?

Meridith Elliott Powell:

All right, all right, I’ll give you one more. And that is that you’re selling into an industry and in an industry there are going to be some that make it and some that don’t. So, really go back to your prospect list, really go back to your customer list and set a new qualifier as to who you’re going to put your time and your energy into. Now, that may sound a little bit cold, but the truth is that those ones that are going to make it are going to need your support more than the ones who are really on shaky ground. So, redefine your avatar inside that industry and make part of where you spend your time and your energy is on those customers inside of that industry that are most likely to make it.

Mark Hunter:

Hey, that’s great. And with that, we need to start wrapping up the podcast. So, I’m going to say right now, thank you for listening to Sales Logic this week. If you like what you hear, subscribe, rate, and review the show on your favorite podcast app. If something we’ve said has earned you a single dollar, consider telling a friend about our show. It’s how we grow to help you grow. I’m Mark Hunter, the Sales Hunter.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

And I’m Meridith Elliott Powell.

Mark Hunter:

Remember when you sell with confidence and integrity …

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Sorry, uncertainty becomes your competitive advantage.

Mark Hunter:

And the sale becomes logical.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

We’ll see you next week.

Mark Hunter:

Hey, that was a great episode. That was the first time we’d ever streamed that live as we did it.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Never done it live.

Mark Hunter:

And we’ll get it figured out as we go, won’t we?

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Exactly. I only screwed it up once there at the end. I didn’t keep my notes in front of me.

Mark Hunter:

Hey, well, that’s okay. I screwed it up about 17 times. You just never noticed, you’re just too nice. So anyway, but hey, this was fun for us to be able to do this first time that we’ve been on Facebook, and we’re on LinkedIn. Not LinkedIn, we hope to get on LinkedIn soon.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

We will be.

Mark Hunter:

That’s a shout out to LinkedIn to get us LinkedIn Live. But we are on YouTube and Vimeo and it really is just another way for us to be able to share with you. So, hey, what’s on tap for you the rest of the week.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

So what’s on tap with me the rest of the week is I’m working on a couple of projects. I’ve had some new business coming in this week and more than anything, I am doing interviews with prospects and clients to try to get my next topics for Sales Logic.

Mark Hunter:

Hey, that’s cool. And not only Sales Logic, but you and I, and a couple of our other friends are working on a major project, but a little too early to talk about that right now, but that’s going to be cool, isn’t it?

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Yeah, it’s really some cutting edge innovative ideas that I’m sure we will talk some about on Sales Logic, but I know you are, and I’m definitely doing some research around that this week as well. It seems, I realize that these are challenging times, but there’s also a lot of energy around all this chaos and really trying to find that path, trying to find that path forward. And I know as we work with our clients and try to help them on that path, it’s really creating a bigger strategy and a bigger plan. And we’ll certainly be sharing all of that here on Sales Logic.

Mark Hunter:

Yeah. And ultimately we come out of it stronger. I mean, I’m very optimistic about this period that we are in right now, because if you think about it, if we were normally doing what we’re doing, you and I probably could not be doing this live because we’d be on a stage somewhere, we’d be on an airplane somewhere. So, this is allowing us to try different things. And this is what business is all about is continually finding new opportunities. And that’s why I’m jazzed.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Yeah, I say it’s really about being committed to your core values. And I know that we share a core value of really serving our clients and serving our community, but you’re not married to the path that you do that. And we certainly have had a shake up and the fact that we won’t be keynoting, but we certainly will be out there with the products and services. And I think helping people find those opportunities is going to be really important in this environment.

Mark Hunter:

You just mentioned something, we’re not out there keynoting. And you stop and think about this. This is so much like sales, our outcomes are still the same. You and I still create outcomes. When we would keynote, the idea was to create an outcome for the audience to be able to go out and sell better to do what they do better. All that’s changed is our delivery method. And for many of you listening, many of you watching this, you need to stop and ask yourself, what is it that I need to shift in terms of how I deliver it? Because the outcome is still the same. So it’s just, the medium has changed. So, it might be just a minor little pivot that you need to look at doing in your respective business.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Yeah. I think the biggest thing is you’ve got to decide is the business that you’re doing what you love and will you continue to do it when this crisis is over? And if the answer to that is yes, then you need to figure out what it’s going to take to survive while this crisis is going on and balance that with transforming the business, with what it needs to look like. And Mark, I feel like that’s exactly what you and I are doing. What a lot of our friends are doing is that we’re doing anything we need to do for this year just to keep the business breathing. But at the same time, we’re transforming the business so that we emerge successful from this crisis.

Mark Hunter:

Yeah. And we’re doing this right now on Facebook Live and YouTube Live and Vimeo Live really, because we got our podcasts Sales Logic Podcast if you’re just checking us out right now, Sales Logic Podcast. Meridith and I, we cohost it each week and we share really sales logic that you can go out and use. And the format is very simplistic in terms of literally when we get done, you can go out and do something with the content that we share right then and there. And our ability to now stream it here live right now, this is just something we’re just trying.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Just trying.

Mark Hunter:

Yeah. Yeah. Hey, we should see if we can get that video because we’re going to have to wrap this up here in a bit, but that video, can we play that video again? I’m getting a nod that we can play this video. Oh, that’s okay, #social distance. We got it. Let’s roll the video.

[Video plays]

That’s a cool video. And I’m going to encourage you, you got to go out, you got to subscribe to, jump out to iTunes, wherever you get your podcasts, subscribe to Sales Logic. Hey, share it with some other people, get others. And please leave us a review because that really helps keep Meridith happy. How does that sound?

Meridith Elliott Powell:

That’s right. And don’t forget to submit your questions. A lot of people are challenged right now, or just struggling with one particular issue, but we’d love to hear from you. We’d love to have you submit a question and the chances are pretty good that we will answer it right here on Sales Logic.

Mark Hunter:

Yeah. Hey, should we do one final little sales pitch, because I know you got a new book out with Dr. Mary Kelly, that is really cool, on succession planning. And of course you’ve got your website. Tell everybody where your website is.

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Well, I’m really glad that … I’ve got a couple of things. Number one is my website is valuespeaker.com, just the words value and speaker.com. And if you go to my website, there’s a purple bar at the top that says “Emerge Successful”. And if you click on that bar, it is full of free tools and resources of information that you need to really move your business, your team and yourself forward in today’s crisis environment.

The second is you’re talking about the book, Who Comes Next: Leadership Succession Planning Made Easy and right now for the month of April, it is only 99 cents, the Kindle version on Amazon. And if you download the Kindle version on Amazon for 99 cents, and you send the receipt to info@productiveleaders.com, you can get the workbook for free. And the workbook is a $30 value full of tools and resources to ensure that you execute the plan. So, thanks for that. But Mark, you have a new book as well, A Mind For Sales. Tell us about that. Tell us how we can get the book and tell where we find out more about you.

Mark Hunter:

Well, yeah, the book, A Mind For Sales, you can get that on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or wherever you go. The website is thesaleshunter.com. People always ask me, what was your … Somebody asked me this yesterday, “What was your name before you changed it to Hunter?” That has been my name, I thank my dad for that, okay? Now with that name, yeah, I had to go into sale. So yeah, it’s thesaleshunter.com, but yeah, we’ve got all kinds of content out there. We’ve got a new online program that we’re starting up with very, very soon, but the book, A Mind For Sales, I really suggest people grabbing it because the message really hits home right now. And Hey, would you do me a favor and do this with Meridith’s books also, when you buy the book, leave a review, leave a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, wherever you buy it. Because, that really helps tell other people how good the book is. Unfortunately, my Kindle copy’s not 99 cents. Dang it, dang it. You got me beat there, but anyway, hey, read it. Read all of our books. Good stuff. So, Mer with that, we should probably close it down. Any final comments?

Meridith Elliott Powell:

Just that, I realized that it is challenging right now, we’re here to help and support and serve you. So, use us, ask questions and you can emerge from this crisis successful. Close us down, Mark.

Mark Hunter:

Hey, thank you for joining us here. Thank you for joining us live as you got to sit in on a recording of an episode of Sales Logic Podcast. My name is Mark Hunter, the Sales Hunter with cohost Meridith Elliott Powell. It’s exciting, we count it an honor, we count it a privilege to be able to help you because at the end of the day, sales is not a solo activity, sales is a team sport. Thank you for being on our team.