EPISODE 268: Victor Adefuye Shares Data-Driven Best Practices for Remote Sales Management to Recover Revenue and Accelerate Growth


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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the CREATIVITY IN SALES MINDSET Webinar hosted by Fred Diamond, Host of the Sales Game Changers Podcast, on July 24, 2020. It featured virtual sales process expert Victor Adefuye,]

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EPISODE 268: Victor Adefuye Shares Data-Driven Best Practices for Remote Sales Management to Recover Revenue and Accelerate Growth

VICTOR’S TIP TO SALES LEADERS: “If we know that the recovery is going to be gradual, the question is how do sales professionals take advantage of this? First, look at your sales process today and think right now which meetings did I used to have that were face-to-face and where am I struggling now in this remote world, and how can I optimize that? If you have a good sense of where changes need to be made then you can start thinking about how to adopt these best practices so you can optimize it for the remote world. Start by focusing on the three most important in the middle of the sales process which is the demo of your solution, the stakeholder meeting and the proposal review.

Fred Diamond: Today we’re talking about best practices for remote sales management mission being to recover revenue and accelerate growth. We have my good friend, Victor Adefuye with Winning by Design.

Victor, most people are kind of in the middle, they know they can do better or they’re pretty good or they’re learning more each day. I’m excited to have you here, I’ve actually seen you present in the past, our good friend, Mike Schmidtmann who has been a past guest of the Sales Game Changers podcast introduced us to you a year or so ago. You’re on the leading edge of best practices of what companies are doing to really take the remote selling to the next level and Victor, we’re going to be selling remote at least through the end of this year and everybody says it’s going to be a big piece of what we’re doing in the future as well.

Victor Adefuye: I agree with that 100%. First of all, thank you for having me, really excited to be here, I’m glad to see you again after meeting a little over a year ago and I’m glad we were reconnected by our good friend, Mike Schmidtmann. You’re exactly right, I think it’s reflected in the poll that you just shared that a lot of people are learning new skills for the first time. Some are more mature than others, maybe they’re more in an inside sales organization so they’ve been forced to embrace some of these remote selling best practices but for a lot of salespeople that are field salespeople, some of these practices are new. What I wanted to share with you today is the best that we’ve seen from the Winning by Design customer base, some interesting approaches that they’ve taken to optimize those meetings that they usually had face to face for the remote world. I’m really excited to be here and to share that with the audience today.

Fred Diamond: Let’s get started, we’re anxious to get some of your advice here.

Victor Adefuye: Let’s start off, I just want to get another poll here to get a sense of the audience so that I can tailor my presentation a little bit to the audience. First of all, I would love to hear from the audience as you can see on the slides, we have options A, B, C and D, how were you selling before COVID?

A – Mostly in person

B – Mostly remote

C – 100% remote

D – None of the above

For those who are here, chat A, B, C or D just so we get a sense of the room.

Fred Diamond: We’ve got a couple A’s coming in here, I know there’s a company that does a lot of transportation related services. We have somebody here who sells childcare services, he said B, mostly remote. We have somebody here who works for Salesforce, one of the largest companies on the planet, he says, “A, mostly in person.” We have someone who sells insurance and he said it was mostly in person, we have somebody who’s mostly remote as well who provides professional services and someone else here who provides tech services who’s an A. Victor, it’s a nice mix between mostly in person or B, mostly remote.

Victor Adefuye: That means for everybody there’s at least some in person and it sways from a lot of in person to just a little part but in person seems to be an integral part of almost everyone’s sales motion. Obviously in the world that we live in now even if it’s just one or two meetings in the sales cycle that was in person now that number is zero. It’s good to know that this is going to be relevant for folks in the audience, I’ve got one more question, Fred and I would love to get a sense of how frequently did you meet in person over the course of the sale cycle. Was it:

A – Rarely

B – One visit per sale cycle

C – Two visits

D – Three or more

I want to dig in a little bit deeper and get a sense of if you have a ten meeting sale cycle, for instance, how many of those meetings were actually in person?

Fred Diamond: We have somebody here who works for one of the largest technology companies on the planet, enterprise related sales, he says D. Somebody here who sells IT related services says C, we have somebody here who does sales training, he said A, rarely sold his services face-to-face, mostly remote. Somebody here who also is in the transportation space says B.

Victor Adefuye: I appreciate the feedback there. Like I said, obviously for everyone there’s at least a little bit of face-to-face. I wanted to chat a little bit about the agenda for today and the presentation is going to be in four parts, not going to talk about it straight away but I want to make this as engaging as possible and really conversational. Fred, if you have any questions at any point, feel free to jump in and of course if there are audience questions feel free to stop me and interject.

I want to first start by talking about where we are, laying the groundwork of what has happened in the last few months with respect to remote selling and the health crisis. Then I want to turn to the question of best practices, I think this is the reason why a lot of people are here today. From our client base in Winning by Design, we’re a sale strategy consulting and training firm, we’ve worked with over 500 clients and we’ve seen some of them adapt to this environment very strongly by embracing best practices of remote sales. I want to share with you three areas where some of our clients have particularly excelled and then I want to talk about the impact because the question that I’m sure is on everybody’s mind is, “Now that we’re moving to remote, does that mean we’re going to have lower conversion rates?” Because there’s a faith that face-to-face meetings actually help develop the relationships, would accelerate the sales but I want to share with you some research that we’ve done and some analysis that suggests maybe it’s not that straightforward. Finally, and I know that you pushed me to do this and I think it’s absolutely the right move, I want to share with the audience what is that one step that you can take right now at the end of this meeting to start developing, embracing some of these best practices. That’s where we’re going to end.

Let’s start with setting the groundwork a little bit and talking about where we are. I don’t need to tell anybody in the audience it’s been a rough time for everybody, for our business, for salespeople and as you can see on the chart that I have on the slide, there was a huge productivity collapse. I think it was around early March, actually I had just come from a trip to Mexico to meet with a group that Michael Schmidtmann had organized and came back the world basically changed. Everything stopped, shutdowns, everyone went to work from home and there was a huge productivity collapse in the economy, a huge unemployment crisis that we’re currently facing. All the numbers indicate we’re reaching the bottom if not at the bottom of that collapse, things are starting to stabilize a little bit and there’s even some indications if you’ve seen some of the job numbers that while things are still very bad, don’t want to undermine that, there are some green shoes as they said in the last crisis, suggesting that there might be some turnaround, so we may be reaching the bottom of this productivity collapse. The question is what’s going to happen next? There’s a school of thought that I think has probably been undermined by the last few weeks that we’re going to have a quick recovery, as soon as all the lockdowns are lifted everything is going to jump back up and back to normal pretty quickly.

I think there’s been a little bit of hope on the part of salespeople in particular, in business leaders that this will be true, that we don’t need to change the way we’re doing things, we don’t need any permanent changes because this is just going to be a short-lived crisis and things are going to come back pretty quickly. I want to challenge that notion a little bit today, Fred, I want to share some reasons why maybe it won’t be as quick as we would hope. First of all, I don’t know if you’re a nerd like me but I follow the news and listen to what’s going on with the fed and they’ve been coming out with a lot of reports recently that suggest that we’re in for the long haul. This is going to be a long downturn, the recovery is going to be very slow, it might be a decade until we’re back to where we were. Everyone’s got to buckle in and expect that is the message that I’m seeing from the fed, and then there’s this question of business travel.

Let’s turn this to the topic of today which is the impact on sales. I saw an interview with Brian Chesky from Airbnb the other day suggesting that of all the travel, business travel is going to be the last to come back. To the extent that we’re used to getting on planes and visiting clients face-to-face, all the experts are starting to agree that businesses are going to be the most conservative in terms of encouraging their employees to get back on planes and start traveling. Then we’re also seeing trends in work-from-home becoming a more permanent part of the landscape, companies like Twitter, Facebook are saying that, “We’re not asking anybody to come in for the rest of the year.” Some are saying even beyond that and I can tell you from the experience of New York where I’m located that we were supposed to have lifted the work-from-home thing a couple of weeks ago.

We actually did lift the restrictions a couple of weeks ago but some of the new rules are so onerous. I don’t know if you’ve been to New York recently but in some of the old buildings that we have the elevators are very small, only a few people can go into an elevator at a time and there’s a rule in New York that if you can’t socially distance in the elevator 6 feet away from each other, it has to be one person at a time. Imagine a building with hundreds of people in it and only one person being able to go up and down at a time. Combine that with the risks of people getting sick, a lot of companies are saying, “It’s not worth it, we’ve been working remotely decently well over the last few weeks, we’re not coming back into the office quickly. That’s a real challenge for salespeople, we’re going to talk about that a little bit, it’s going to be a real challenge to get all the stakeholders, for example, into a room for a meeting if everybody is dispersed and working from home.

Finally, as a consequence of that we’re starting to see people moving away from the big cities so even if the decision makers used to live around the office, we’re seeing people moving away. I know that among my friend group in New York, especially those that have young kids, as soon as this stuff started everyone moved out into the suburbs and the more rural areas because of course, being in New York City in this time has been really treacherous. Even if you had folks that were near the office and they could come into the office, the fact that so many people are moving away from these downtown areas creates an additional hurdle. Based on all that, I think it’s reasonable to assume that we are going to be facing a really slow recovery, a long downturn and the realities of remote selling are probably going to be the status quo for a little while longer.

If we know that the recovery is going to be gradual, the question is how do we take advantage of this? There’s going to be a status quo, in your different markets there’s a status quo of how long it’s going to take that market to recover so the question is if that status quo – and that would be the competition – if it’s going to take for instance 4 years for your entire industry to get back to normal or 2 years, whatever the number may be, can we accelerate that? Can we get an advantage over our competitors so that we can recover faster than them and then ultimately capture market share? The argument that I want to make today is that the way that you do so is by improving your win rate, speeding up your sale cycle and that’s a function of how you sell. If you embrace this new normal and adjust to it appropriately, it’s possible that you can accelerate your recovery, beat your competitors, capture market share and that’s really a function of how you sell which is the topic of today, some best practices for selling in such a remote environment. I know I just talked a lot so Fred, I want to pause here. Any thoughts or feedback from you, from the audience on what I just shared in terms of laying the groundwork?

Fred Diamond: Obviously we agree. For the first couple of months people were adjusting because everybody in the world had to adjust and where we are right now, the reason we brought you on and we’re going to be making more and more presentations like this because it’s now really the reality. Kurt says, “Thank you for the graphics, it really makes things clearer from a graphical perspective” so thanks, Kurt.

Right now we’re spending a lot of time with what should you be doing that it’s a reality. As a matter of fact, I talked right before today’s webcast with a software company that does event software and they said that everything’s been postponed of course until 2021 and people knew that but now it’s confirmed. We have a large hotel chain that is a member of the Institute for Excellence in Sales and they said that there’s been a nice increase in small events like breakfasts and they haven’t started yet, they’re starting in the fall but there’s not going to be conferences, there’s not going to be trade shows, there’s not going to be summits, every kick-off is going to be virtual. But we’re beginning to see a little bit of those types of things, socially distant creep in but it’s going to take a long slog. Let’s get to part 2, everyone’s anxious to hear some of your ideas.

Victor Adefuye: Here’s where I want to share some best practices. Specifically, there are three areas that I want to focus on today. There are more than three areas, of course, our firm, Winning by Design, we’ve collected some of these best practices on areas like lead generation, what are the top companies doing for lead generation? What are they doing for remote demos, for those in all-important stakeholder meetings where we try to get all the decision makers into the room? Then of course proposal reviews, what are companies doing there? Then the all-important reference call at the end, how are they accelerating their sales process instead of the delays that are inevitable and trying to get people to communicate with each other?

There’s a lot of content and I’m happy to share all of those but for today I really want to focus on the three most important in the middle of the sales process which is the demo of your solution, the stakeholder meeting and the proposal review. Those are the areas I want to focus on in terms of best practices so let’s start about what we’re seeing in terms of best practices for demoing solutions.

A little context: first of all, we all know that the demo is a critical piece of the sales process and particularly for larger complex type of field sales that require face-to-face larger ticket sales, there are often many different decision makers that are going to be involved. You’re going to have the first person you speak to, the initiator, try to develop that person into a champion, of course you’re going to have gatekeepers and blockers that are going to prevent you from the executive buyer. Sales 101 tells us we need to tailor our messaging to each of these different buyers, understand their different pain points and then be able to position our solution as a solution to their different needs. It’s not just one message for everyone as the Challenger Sales guys have shared brilliantly, you’ve got to tailor your message to the folks that you’re speaking to. With that context in mind, there are some best practices in demos, in stakeholder meetings, in proposal review that embrace this idea of tailoring and it does so in a way that allows you to potentially develop those personal relationships remotely that we may all hope that we can develop generally in face-to-face meetings.

In terms of demos what we’re seeing is really an embrace of video, there are lots of different video platforms, everything as simple as Zoom or GoToWebinar to ones that are more dedicated for this purpose like Vidyard or Soapbox by Wistia. A lot of companies are embracing these platforms that allow you to interact with customers face-to-face using video and they’re incorporating it into their demos. The steps that they’re taking are first working with the champion to understand the pain points and the decision criteria for all of those folks that are in the decision committee, all of the folks that are going to be involved in evaluating your solution. Then recording a demo that explicitly calls out those features and that are targeted to address each decision maker’s concern. For example, if you’re the executive buyer, Fred, you really care about ROI so if I’m recording a demo for you or a demo that I know will get to you, in the middle of it I’d say, “Hey, Fred, this part is really important for you. I know that you care a lot about ROI, let me show you how our solution can impact your ROI.” Focusing on that part and really calling it out, that creates that personal connection, it tells Fred that, “I care about what your concerns are and I want to tailor this demo to you.”

Finally, you send an email to the champion with some timestamps, something that says, “Here’s a demo that I would like you to share internally among your team and all the decision makers and by the way, I know one of them is Fred and at minute 7:00 in the demo I explicitly speak to Fred and his concerns about ROI. Then Bob is at minute 8:00 and Sally, I refer to her at minute 10:00.” It really makes it much more of a tailored demo and it emphasizes to these folks that you’ve customized it for them and helped them direct to where is most relevant for them. Then of course you can create a library of these different recordings, of course the tailored ones are going to be different but if you can create different snippets of your demo that highlight different features or different pain points, you can build yourself a library and make it more accessible and be able to share it with your champion. Maybe the champion is like, “Fred really cares about this” and you have a video that is focused on that topic, you can quickly say, “Show this video to Fred, it focuses on the features that he cares the most about.” This is a subtle but important way to show that you care about the interest of different stakeholders and that you’re trying to develop that personal connection through video that you otherwise perhaps would be doing in person.

Any questions or thoughts on this best practice?

Fred Diamond: We have a question here from Rich, Rich is actually not too far from you, he’s on Long Island. Thanks, Rich. Rich wants to know, “Should I tailor the videos for the pandemic situation?” That’s an interesting question. Obviously everybody has shifted their business and forget about the hotels and airlines, things like that, everybody has. Are you suggesting that when we produce these videos that we also speak towards today and what the world may look like in the next year as compared to, “Here’s this great feature that will help you be more productive” or something along those lines?

Victor Adefuye: I don’t think the principle changes depending on the pain point. The pain point may change, the concerns may change because of COVID but if you know that a decision maker cares about productivity or efficiency and their concern for that has increased because of COVID, then you would tailor your demo and your presentation to their concerns regardless of what the source may be. I think the practice remains the same and in fact, if those concerns are more connected to COVID then they’re particularly sailing it now and it’s even more important to highlight them in your presentation.

Let’s move on to another area, the all-important stakeholder meeting, getting everybody into the room for a demo or presentation or workshop to try to get them to align and make a decision, this is usually a critical step in especially the enterprise sales process, what are some best practices there. First of all, we all believe that these stakeholder meetings in person are a huge advantage but sometimes we underestimate the disadvantages of these meetings. First of all, you have a lot of calendars to coordinate, it’s hard to get everybody into the same room, if you can’t get everybody in the room and you have some people participating it’s just really hard to connect with them. Then we have people who could block and interrupt conversations and especially all the ideas that I talked about a minute ago with COVID and the challenges of getting everybody into a room, all of these issues are exacerbated now under the current circumstance. These stakeholder meetings have always been imperfect but COVID makes them even more challenging, so what are the best companies doing to create the best experiences possible for their customers in remote meeting?

First of all, they are investing a lot in the setup for their salespeople making sure that they have good lighting, making sure they have good cameras and are not just relying on the cameras on their laptops, making sure that their backgrounds are good. A lot of organizations are embracing virtual backgrounds or like the background that I have here that’s a whiteboard, something that’s a little bit more neutral and less distracting. Really investing and being thoughtful about what is the presentation, the appearance of our salespeople when they are in meetings. Then they are also making sure and encouraging participants in the meeting to turn on their cameras and try to make eye contact. That is one of the big advantages of face-to-face, you get to see everyone, you get to understand how they’re reacting in the moment and you can tailor, “That person is not really engaged, what do I need to do to reengage them?” If you are doing these virtual meetings and folks are signed on but they don’t have their cameras on, that’s going to be really hard to do that. Making it a point to try to encourage prospects to also have their cameras on, have their names visible when they’re presenting and then this allows you to recreate some of the insights that you would get face-to-face.

Fred, I’m going to turn to you here just to test out this hypothesis, on the screen here you’re seeing my slide, we have the faces of a few folks that may be involved in the decision committee. Looking at what you see here, who appears to be distracted? Can you identify the person that looks distracted?

Fred Diamond: It looks like he’s doing something with his phone, probably.

Victor Adefuye: Exactly, who seems really engaged and is anxious and wants to contribute?

Fred Diamond: I’d say E looks pretty good, C looks pretty good, B looks like he might be thinking about what was just presented, I wish A had a little bit better lighting. That’s one of the interesting things that’s come up a bunch is we’re only seeing people from this perspective. When you have the in person meetings you see the room, you see how they interact, you see if they’re taking notes. Our speaker next Friday, John Asher is a huge proponent of taking notes in meetings. Now all we see is people from here above and we’re missing some of those queues. An interesting point that we’re seeing more and more, the first couple of months of everything people were getting used to it, people have changed their backgrounds, it was okay if the dog or the four-year-old came running in and it was cute and we said, “Let that happen.” Now that we know this is the reality, like we said, at least through the end of the calendar year and probably well into the future as you’ll mention, sales leaders are getting less tolerant of that. What we’re hearing now from them is they’re telling their people, “I know you might not have cut your hair, slick back your hair, no more T-shirts, put on a button-down shirt or the appropriate attire that we typically wear, be on time, put the phone away so that you’re not looking down, treat this as how we need to.”

Victor Adefuye: Exactly, and these are important considerations and it all goes down to professionalism. The same way we expect a high level of professionals and when you send a salesperson into an office for a face-to-face meeting with decision makers, you expect them to dress well, you expect them to communicate clearly, you expect them to limit their own distractions. The same level of professionalism and expectations should apply in the remote setting. The other tactic that we’re seeing that’s being particularly effective is similar to how you might invite a colleague to come with you for these big stakeholder meetings, we’re seeing folks that are encouraging colleagues to participate in the meeting in the chat. What they’re doing in the chat is they are engaging folks directly, so let’s say you see someone in the audience that looks like they have a question on their mind. While you’re presenting, your colleague may be typing in the key points and takeaways that they want to stick so the participants are hearing those points and seeing them come up in the chat and they’re re-emphasized and reinforced.

Then your colleague may be able to direct questions specifically to individuals encouraging those individuals to ask questions as they come up in their mind without having to worry about raising their hand and interrupting the conversation. The colleague can respond to their questions directly and then sharing links and downloads, things like that to make it a much more interactive experience and one where folks are encouraged to participate. Beyond just sitting quietly and listening to a presentation and having the questions in their head and forgetting them, they can be doing it live really having those points that are important re-emphasized. I would encourage everyone that’s listening, if you’re going to do a stakeholder meeting, invite a colleague to own the chat box to make sure that you’re coordinated and they are there to respond to the concerns of the audience. That’s some of the best practices in terms of the stakeholder meeting. When you do it remotely it’s faster to get everybody into the room, everyone has the ability to interact whether they’re raising their hand through their voice or interacting in the chat. It also allows you some insight into what they care about so if you’re saying, “At any point if you have a question just drop it into the chat” like you’re moderating the chat right now, a colleague can moderate the chat. You can say, “Fred really cares about this question of ROI, he had a question of ROI.” Then we know that that’s what your concern is, I can tailor my presentation to it or tailor my messaging to you moving forward.

The last area I want to talk about is the all-important proposal review and again, this is an area that has been advanced by video. What we’re seeing a lot of companies do is use a video in walking customers through their proposal, recording a short video that walks through the proposal but doesn’t go necessarily page by page, really jumps to the highlights and directs attention to what you want the customer to focus on. In addition to recording a video and tailoring it like we talked about with the demo, you can also share the document now since everything’s in the cloud, whether you’re using Google suite or you’re using Microsoft, things are in the cloud. You can share them with folks, they can have access to the live document, you can control what type of access they have maybe giving them comment access and then encouraging folks to comment in the proposal. “Go into the proposal, if there are any areas that you have any questions about, go in there and add a little comment” and that gives you great insight into what are the things that these different folks who are in the proposal care about.

With a lot of this technology like the Google suite of products you can control who has access and what type of access that they get. To be able to share this document with all of the decision makers, your champion has to tell you who to give the access to so that’s a great way of getting insight into who’s involved in this decision. Then because you’re encouraging them to comment in the proposal you’re getting a sense of which aspects of it resonate with them, what types of questions they have, you can even update the proposal in real-time to address some of their concerns. It’s just a way of accelerating that proposal review process getting more engagement, getting more insight into what folks really care about, it’s a really powerful way of engaging. Arguably even better than what a lot of us have been doing historically which is sending the proposal over the transom and hoping that they figure it out or meeting face-to-face and walking through a proposal but not getting that level of insight that you would when it’s this more asynchronous approach.

Fred Diamond: Actually, one of the things that’s come up frequently as a theme on all of the webcasts that we’re doing is a large part of sales has changed and I’ll tell you what that is. We talk a lot about active questioning and asking questions, even simple questions like, “What are the challenges you’re dealing right now?” Those questions really don’t need to be asked right now because for the first time in history we’re all together with the same challenge. If my customer is a hotel, I know what your challenges are, you’re not doing events so I don’t need to ask you, “What keeps you up at night, VP of Sales from Marriott?” “I don’t know, the fact that nobody’s coming to our hotels?” So it’s like your process is very strong and being able to get right to you showing your customer that you understand what they’re going through right now. The customer doesn’t have time to deal with you if you don’t know that, we spent a session yesterday talking about value creation and the whole concept right now that you should be on top of where your customers are. I know we’re going to move on to the next stage here. Kurt says he likes the idea of assigning a member of the team as the chat moderator as well and having your customer as an online proposal collaborator. He’s done this in the past, sending it to the customer and calling it a draft proposal. Thanks, Kurt, for chiming in there as well.

Alright Victor, let’s move on.

Victor Adefuye: There are two points that I want to make in closing. First of all, the big elephant in the room that we are all concerned about is does this change to remote really hurt our conversion rate? Does it slow down the sales process? By missing out on face-to-face meeting are we hurting sales productivity? It’s a reasonable concern and I don’t think we are ever going to be in a world where face-to-face meetings are gone but I just want to suggest a couple things. I have some research to back these assertions up and if you’re curious about some of the validation behind the points I’m about to make, reach out to me, I will share with you the research, I will share with you the white paper that we’ve created to justify some of these assertions and the math behind it, the ROI behind it. I just want to share very high level, first of all, there’s been research that says the customers actually prefer remote meetings as opposed to face-to-face. It’s not easy for an internal person to try to corral all their colleagues to get together for a face-to-face meeting, they don’t know how it goes. There was some research done all the way back in 2008 before all this stuff happened that suggested that customers actually are not only okay and there are no negative consequences to transitioning to remote but also that they’re actually satisfied. Because this was written in 2008 it’s before this era, it’s before a lot of Zoom and a lot of the technology that has made it even easier. I’m happy to share that research if folks are interested.

Also, there’s this concept of meetingless and asynchronous selling. Another research paper that we have done at Winning by Design breaks down the math and shows that you can actually accelerate your sale cycle, have fewer meetings by adopting these remote selling based practices and it’s because of this idea of meetingless and asynchronous selling. Synchronous selling means everybody needs to get together at the same time at the same place so you have all your demo, your proposal, your commitment, decision-making meeting, everybody if you’re doing face-to-face needs to show up and be together at the same time at the same place. In COVID, all we’ve done for most companies is say, “You still need to be synchronous, everybody still needs to be together at the same time at the same place but instead of doing it face-to-face we’re doing it remotely.” However, some of the best practices that I shared with you today turns some of these meetings into asynchronous meetings meaning not everybody needs to come together at the same time at the same place to advance the ball.

Let’s talk about the proposal review, for example, because this proposal review is being done remotely you’re not asking everybody to come together, you’re asking them, “Whenever it’s convenient for you, go into the document, review it, add your comments and we’ll go back and forth asynchronously.” You actually can remove the meeting that you had before that forced everybody to come together. If we can insert this asynchronous and meetingless selling in other aspects of the sales process – do it in the demo, do it in the proposal review, etcetera – we actually find in this paper basically breaking down the math of this that if you can insert more asynchronous meetings, get rid of some meetings in the sales process you’re actually going to shorten your sale cycle which then accelerates the revenue and your time to cash, and then increase your win rate. I know this is a bold assertion – again, I have the ROI’s and the data and the math to back this up – but think about it this way: if you don’t have to get on a plane to meet people face-to-face, that’s time saved.

If you don’t have to go to the airport, you don’t have any flights, things like that, all of that necessarily delays the sale cycle. If you don’t have to try to get everybody into the same office at the same time on the same day, that makes it easier for people to adapt, that can accelerate your sale cycle. You can save time, have fewer meetings, makes you more productive and actually helps you accelerate your sales process. That’s the justification that adopting meetingless and remote selling and asynchronous selling in particular really does have a powerful impact on an organization bottom line by accelerating the sale cycle and increasing the win rates. Reach out to me if you want that information. I know that you asked, just to close out now, what is the big takeaway for the audience? What should they do today to start adopting these best practices? It comes down to starting to prepare and embracing this new reality faster than your competitors so preparing now which allows you to ramp faster which allows you to ultimately gain market share.

Like I said, that’s a function of how you sell so how do you change how you sell? For a lot of organizations, they have documented their sales process into a sales playbook. The question is what does your playbook look like today? Does it imagine face-to-face meetings in your playbook? And can we insert some of these best practices, asynchronous, meetingless selling into the playbook so that the team is familiar with them and knows that instead of in stage 4 when you’re supposed to get on a plane and go meet with the customer, now it’s time to do that meeting remotely? Look at your playbooks today, think about the aspects of it that used to be face to face and then think about how we can adjust it to the remote world. If you don’t have the tools that we’ve referenced in today’s conversation, start looking at those tools right now and operationalizing them, we have no interest in advancing any one tool or the other but we all know that they work whether it’s Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google suite or a Microsoft suite for the document sharing. If you don’t adopt them or have them today, operationalize them today. Then of course some of this is going to require new skills so train your sales team in these expert skills, in these remote selling skills, invest in their cameras, invest in their background, teach them how to do these meetings, give them opportunity to role play it with peers. That’s what you can do to try to adopt these best practices. Of course, shameless plug, at Winning by Design this is exactly what we do with our clients. We help them to create these playbooks, we help them to figure out what tools are necessary and of course we offer training on not only remote sales but sales 101 best practices. This isn’t about me, it’s about everyone in the audience but feel free to reach out if you have any questions about how we can help.

Fred Diamond: Victor, thank you so much, that’s great input. Again, we now realize that this is the way it’s going to be and I love your comment there that you’ve got to do it before your competition. We’re still seeing some people who are holding onto 16 as long as you can, you’ve got to make that shift because this is the way it’s going to be. We were doing at the Institute for Excellence in Sales 50 live programs a year and now we’re doing 4 webcasts a week and we’ve got a couple hundred people each week who log in. Victor, we’ve got to wrap up here, I want to thank everybody for being here. Can you give us something to do today? You gave us some great ideas on how to begin to think. Give one specific thing that you want people to do right now, we’ve got a couple dozen people watching today’s webcast, it’s July 17th, it’s 11:47 in the morning. What should people do in the next hour to take your information and make it more real?

Victor Adefuye: I’ll propose two things or one and a half things, if you will. #1, reach out to me, connect with me on LinkedIn, search Victor at Winning by Design or my email address, victor@winningbydesign.com. I want to share with you the ROI, the research behind some of the assertions that I’ve made around accelerating the sale cycle. Get that research, read it, familiarize yourself with the mathematical justification for embracing remote sales. That will allow you, if this is the direction you want to go, to be able to build that business case internally. The first thing I would say is reach out to me and then the other thing is like I said a minute ago, look at your sales process today, think right now which meetings did I used to have that were face-to-face and where can am I struggling now in this remote world, and how can I optimize that? If you have a good sense of where changes need to be made then you can start thinking about how to adopt these best practices.

That’s the one thing that I will say to everyone, start thinking as soon as possible about what your sales process looks like and how you can optimize it for the remote world. I just want to close with this one quote real quick by Arthur Schopenhauer, “The task is not so much to see what no one has seen yet but to think what nobody has thought yet about what everybody sees.” We all know that we are in this remote world, some of us are hoping that it’ll change as quickly as possible and we can go back to normal. But the ones who are going to beat the competition, the ones who are going to get ahead are those who recognize this is the new reality right now and they adjust immediately and faster to that reality, they’re the ones that are going to capture market share, they’re the ones that are going to beat their competition while they’re slowly coming around to this reality.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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