“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” – so said Sir Winston Churchill, long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19. But the message is as apposite today as when he first uttered those words – especially when it comes to maintaining sales in the current business environment.
Just about everyone, in every walk of life, has been compelled to adjust the way in which they do business. What once would have been unthinkable has become normal and it is technology that has come to our rescue. Face-to-face gatherings have gone out of the window in favour of virtual meetings via the internet. Clients have not been complaining because they don’t want to see you in the flesh anyway for health reasons. Just like everyone else, they are most likely working from home, or at least offsite. We have all had to learn new ways in which to communicate and to ration our precious time as well as that of customers.
But it’s better than that because the more enterprising companies are in using technology as an opportunity, not as an excuse for neglecting clients. Business trips are now widely regarded as being expensive, wasteful, sometimes unnecessary and increasingly unwelcome. What to replace them with has been the tricky part.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that sales pitches conducted via the internet are better targeted with sales messages clearer and more concise. And, according to some experts, there is also better interaction between seller and buyer in a virtual exchange than in, say, a Power Point presentation which can sometimes take the form of a long-winded lecture. Presenters are learning how to listen as well as talk and hence are engaging more with clients – which helps counter the argument that personal rapport suffers in the absence of physical contact.
What is clear is that success is more likely where sales pitches are fashioned from the outset to make best use of the virtual format, rather than where crude attempts have been made to repurpose old-style presentations to fit a totally different medium. The pressure is on for anyone is sales to move with the times, and quickly, in a period when contacts are harder to reach, and contracts are not only harder to come by but are prone to being postponed or cancelled. The opportunity is there for those with the appetite to seize it.