Navigating Customer Relationships in a Hybrid World
7 in 10 sales professionals worked remotely during the pandemic, but our recent pulse survey revealed that 92% of respondents’ employers are attempting to bring the sales team back to the office at least part of the time.
It’s likely that a hybrid scenario will remain since more than 90% of enterprises plan to maintain the sales force structure established over the past year to enable this.
According to McKinsey, customers want to be served in this manner and sellers want flexibility in how they work. A remote-first, hybrid work environment accomplishes just this.
Developing relationships with customers was one of the top challenges cited by our survey participants. This skill is essential to success in sales, regardless of whether it’s face-to-face, remote, or hybrid.
With all that in mind, we’ve assembled some tips to help you navigate customer relationships in today’s hybrid world.
Trust is an essential element of strong buyer-seller relationships. In a recent Dale Carnegie study, 73% of participants said trust is very or extremely important when building relationships with salespeople. In the same study, 71% of respondents indicated they’d prefer to buy from a sales rep they trusted over one who gave them the lowest price.
The survey respondents said trust meant two things to them:
- I can believe the sales rep, they are honest, credible, and knowledgeable
- The rep is looking out for my best interest and providing value
So how do you develop a customer’s trust? According to the same study, 85% of respondents said you need to:
- Be knowledgeable
- Provide honest and complete information
- Do the right thing for the customer, rather than focus on making the sale
- Keep your promises
- Give straightforward answers, even if it means losing the sale
You can find more tips on meeting these requirements and building trust here.
Identify preferred communication methods
With less face-to-face interactions, it’s more important than ever to establish the customer’s preferred method(s) of communication for meetings, updates, and check-ins. Email and phone are popular options, but you need to go deeper than that and reach buyers using the mediums they’re already using. According to the McKinsey study, today’s customers use up to 10 channels to interact with suppliers.
So, ask the prospect which video chat platforms they like best and find out which mediums they prefer for document sharing. Determine if they stay active on social channels, which ones, and how often.
Then you need to ask if they gravitate to video calls, phone calls, email, text messaging, or some other method of communicating. Customers and prospects will appreciate your consideration and interest. This, in turn, will make communicating easier.
Practice active listening
Being present during conversations with a customer by actively listening enables you to learn more about them, their needs, and concerns. It also helps you forge a deeper relationship and have more meaningful exchanges.
Making the effort to show you’re hearing them and understand what they are expressing to you also tells the customer that you care about solving their problems. As a result, the customer feels more comfortable, valued and connected to you.
Make it personal
Virtual communications can feel impersonal at times. Make interactions feel more personal by engaging with customers through a variety of methods such as social media, phone, video, and in-person whenever possible.
Be human in your communications by adding some personality - doing things like mentioning a personal experience, a holiday you recently returned from, talking about your favorite sports team, or sharing some bit of trivia you find interesting.
And when you’re on a video call from home it’s okay for your pet, baby, or family member to be seen in the background briefly. This shows the customer a more personal side of you.
Increase communication frequency
There are typically multiple stakeholders involved in a client or prospect account. So be sure to keep everyone in the loop, especially the key decision-maker. Although they may not all be present at each meeting, it’s a good idea to keep all parties up to date and on the same page.
Keep yourself and your product front-of-mind for prospects and existing clients by sharing useful information and insights between meetings and calls. Things like case studies, white papers, informative articles and event information are a great way to be helpful and show you’re thinking of them without being a pest. This is also a very buyer-centric way to continually help the customer move forward toward solving their challenges.
Interested in building stronger customer relationships in a hybrid world? Book a demo with a member of our team to see how Jiminny can help.