How to strengthen customer relationships in the current climate.

As companies across the globe have adapted to the new reality of working remotely, more than ever, sellers need to show value to create, sustain, and grow customer relationships.

May 7, 2020

How to strengthen customer relationships in the current climate

Now more than ever, it’s important that we all work together to stay motivated and keep our spirits up. At a time when many of us are craving human connections, technology – whether a video call or social media conversation – can help us to feel as though we’re still part of a team, even when working remotely.

At LinkedIn, technology has been a morale booster both in a professional sense – enabling us to learn, grow and collaborate – and on a personal level. For example, my team and I have been catching up over lunchtime video calls, which definitely makes lunch "al desko" more enjoyable.

One thing I’ve learnt over the past few weeks is that nurturing relationships and checking in with colleagues has never been more crucial – and the same goes for customers.

A few weeks ago, before social distancing came into force, I sat down with Sarah Goodall, founder and CEO of Tribal Impact, to film a webinar about modern selling and how socially activating the workforce can strengthen customer relationships.

It might seem like a strange time to discuss it, but for me, today’s uncertainty reinforces one certainty: thinking about how we build connections, especially in a crisis, will be a key driver for the future.

But how can we use technology to help us build trust and long-term relationships?

 

A ‘connected company’ means social activation

Today, because of the opportunities offered by social media, anyone who works for a company can be an advocate for your brand, discussed Sarah in the webinar.

Much of the sales technology used today is powered by social media, but she argues that only when companies understand the interconnectivity of their employee base can they realise the true potential of those connections.

I have to agree. I’ve seen it time and time again; salespeople spending months trying to chase a lead who it turns out went to college with their finance director. Pinpointing these existing personal links is fundamental to building meaningful relationships with your customers based on commonality and trust.

With the right sales technology, suddenly you can tap into the social networks of everyone in your company and extract valuable relationship capital. But it’s not just enough to be aware of these opportunities; you need to embed behaviour change across your organisation to ensure you’re getting maximum value from modern selling.

In my experience, instigating a behavioural shift across an entire business has to start with sales leaders and the conversations they are having with their teams. Instead of asking your team how many phone calls they’ve made, Sarah suggests that you should be asking them how many profiles they’ve viewed, or how much content they’ve published on their social channels.

In the ‘connected company’, as Sarah refers to it, social content feeds connections, which feeds conversions and influence, but this won’t happen unless you take a holistic view to socially activating your workforce.

 

Using your social presence to seal the deal

Another potential sticking point is the fact that today a salesperson probably isn’t even in the room when a buying decision occurs. According to research by Gartner CEB, there are now on average up to seven people involved in a B2B sale – and we know from our own findings that there can be as many as 14 people on a buying committee for a multinational company.

So, how can you influence decisions from behind closed doors? The answer is by winning the hearts and minds of buyers through trust and authenticity, which is why as a salesperson your social presence is so important.

If you’re trying to get in touch with a modern buyer and they don’t know who you are, guess what? They’ll be looking you up on LinkedIn. And what is your profile telling them – is it nothing more than a list of jargonised job titles, or does it present a true picture of you and your achievements?

 

How can you stay on track in the current climate?

Sales is, and always will be, a contact sport, one that relies on establishing those important personal connections, but in the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in, it can be all too easy to let those connections fall by the wayside. After all, many of us might be juggling home schooling or looking out for sick relatives and neighbours, so touching base with others might not be top of our to-do lists.

After filming the webinar, Sarah and I took part in a live Q&A session and many of the questions we were asked related to productivity in the current climate.

Ultimately, it’s important that we acknowledge that productivity isn’t about the time we all spend at our desks right now – it’s about finding new ways to stay connected. As Sarah rightly put it, now is not the time to track employee performance. Instead, check in with your teams by scheduling regular one-to-ones and virtual team chats when you can all get together in a social way.

As a sales leader, my focus is on supporting my team as best I can, and that involves staying calm and keeping a big picture mentality. Put short term targets to one side and focus on relationships, with your team and with your customers. They might not be in a position to buy at the moment, but they will appreciate you asking how they are and if you can help them in any way.

It’s also important to orient your team and your customers to looking forward, thinking about how you can best support them as we recover and rebound from this crisis.

We’re all human and we’re all probably finding the current situation challenging, so reach out, share your experiences and most importantly, listen. By going the extra mile to help each other now, you’ll build long-term relationships that stand the test of time.

 
Check out our webinar recording below to catch up on our Strengthening Customer Relations discussion with Sarah.

 

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