Selling In The New Reality of Distance and Time

Virtual Selling

Distance and time were once barriers to the sales process, and that is no longer true. Showrooms will all be a bit different when this pandemic ends; winners see this as an opportunity to excel. Technology has provided the tools we need, and the current circumstances have hurled us into a new reality, and there are only two choices; sink or swim. 

It is said that new habits are created in 21 days, and as I write this, we have easily doubled those number of days since we began “showroom distancing.” Physical distancing will be part of the new way showrooms go to work, and this is the time to learn the lessons that will help propel as well as succeed in the future.

While technology is much of what is being discussed on the way we adapt to the current state of selling, most forget or neglect to point out that technology is just a tool. Think of the way showrooms adapted to the introduction of the fax machine and then email; we embraced them and used these tools for all they were worth. 

But the adaption of some of these new communication methods has stalled, and here is my thought. The main difference between using the prior tools and the new ones is that the new devices are personal. 

An email goes to an inbox; a phone call may be sent to voicemail, both to be seen and dealt with at some designated time. But a text, online chat, or when the client uses video for a virtual design consultation, this is in real-time and must be dealt with immediately. 

When using any connection tool, regardless if it is a text-based or live video interaction, there are some essential face to face communication styles you will want to include or adopt.

Show You Care: 

After decades of leading and educating teams in their sales and marketing efforts, we know that emotion sells the product, and logic keeps it sold. To be effective and successful in your role as a savvy showroom sales associate using today’s communication tools, you must remember that the work is the same; only the delivery mechanism has changed.

Create or build on the trust and rapport you have already established. You can accomplish this by setting yourself up for success. Being able to sell means being able to share, even infect the client with positive emotions, and that happens when you have an attitude of gratitude. 

Think of the power when you begin every interaction by embracing a positive mindset. Whenever you get a notification that a client wants to connect with you using any method, it is the time to be grateful they selected your showroom from all the other choices available.  

These client interactions can vary in the information or activity that they want to accomplish, but there is an underlying goal, no matter the cause of the query. The goal we must achieve with each connection is to set or reaffirm the emotional hook we have with the client.

During the conversation, it is essential to do a recap of the features and benefits of the product selected, the showroom’s reputation, and your expert status in your field. This is not the time to recite a prepared laundry list of your advantages; you will lose the client’s attention and maybe their business. 

From the beginning of the sales process using digital prospecting, right through to regular follow up, make emotional benefit connections through the whole process.

The best way to show you care is to show you care, and you do that with video chat. Using a video chat tool is the way to imitate in-person connections best, put a face to go with the voice, and allow your client to see your expressions. This is the time to become an expert in a video chat platform. Face to face design consultations or providing a virtual product selection continue to move your sales process forward. If you have not subscribed to a video chat platform yet, do it now. If you are using a video chat platform, already look at your usage and set a goal to 4x your video chat time. Your clients can buy products just about anywhere at any time. What they need most is the assistance of an expert, a professional, and that is you!

Images That Sell:

It seems that every smartphone release features a more improved camera; this is the result of a society that loves the images they capture. From family, photos to design style dreams, we are absolutely living in an image impacted world. 

While we like the images we take, we love to see the pictures that other people have taken. This is the reason we, as humans, have embraced the image clip and copy features of our various phones, tablets, and computers, forever memorializing our image selections. This is why Visual Search is a vital tool in your sales arsenal. 

Visual search will be the tool that will help amplify showrooms to make a better experience for their client.

As quickly as the speed of a text, your client can share an image of their desired fixture. Typically the image that a client clips has no branding. This is not a big deal with visual search as the client naturally wants an item that resembles the product silhouette and the finish that the client wants to have. 

With a visual search tool tied to your company’s online catalog, sales consultants can quickly identify similar product selections from the vendors that you support. 

This increasingly popular and positive customer interaction can happen within minutes. The sales team can now respond in minutes with a list of products that visually match those within the provided photograph. With the response to the client, remember to anchor an emotion to the product, your service, or the showroom.

Be Flexible and Adapt:

Things have changed so much in the last couple of months. It is making everyone’s head spin, and the changes will keep happening as the new economy begins to roll out. Things will not go back to the way they were before the virus. Now is the time to be adaptive and flexible so that your showroom will not only exist in this new period of commerce but thrive in the face of new challenges.

Virtual selling and design consultations will not disappear when the stay at home orders are lifted. Using technology to sell and service is no longer a fad of the moment; it is the way of the future. Now is the time to be adapting your current showroom sales and marketing processes to the digital norm, adding some new productive client-centric procedures and discarding others that are no longer applicable. The changes put in place today will provide success today and for the long haul.

Flexibility is defined as the quality of bending but not breaking, and we must be as malleable as we can be when it comes to several key areas I call the 3 P’s; People, Pricing, Process.

Flexibility with people is first. Whether the people are our staff or clients, having a flexible schedule in the way we interact with them is critical. Regular business hours have been replaced with 24/7-365 availability. Having team members accessible to respond to clients has never been easier than it is today with the use of technology, and when the sales folks are not available, utilizing an excellent messaging platform that has good client met focused copy and interactive questions is next. 

Pricing flexibility is a minimum requirement to stay in business, and the transparency of the internet has made this both a new challenge and a bastion of competitor information. There is never a good time to lose a project because of competitive pricing. Utilizing price guarantees combined with the appropriate well-rehearsed sales conversation will keep your showroom winning more. Having a digital platform that allows you to express dynamic pricing levels to various client types based on their login lets them always see “their” price. The personalization of pricing to the login builds trust with your trade partners. 

Process flexibility is acknowledging the change that has happened and how it will affect the way we will business in the future. Now is the time to evaluate all sales and marketing processes and determine what will work and can be brought into this new reality; while we ceremoniously discard old worn-out procedures to make way for the new ones. Welcome to business unusual. 

Bring Out The Best In Your Showroom:

We know that the client has completed 70% or more of their shopping journey doing most of it online before ever visiting a showroom. This is one of the reasons that footfall has diminished. Having a virtual showroom tour is a way to bring your store and your products into the prospects’ home. This all happens while the potential client never leaves home. They can visit your showroom, see and get information about the products on display. Virtual tours build excitement and a desire to see the physical showroom. This is a case of when being an early adopter of this tool will help raise brand awareness locally and digitally.

Take this time to get prepared for the new way that we connect and serve our clients and trade partners.