Has lockdown changed the way that customers buy?
And how salespeople sell?
For those who have used MEDDIC as a sales process, it would be easy to assume that using MEDDIC as we have always done, the process will shine through.
However, the best salespeople and organisations have evolved their use of MEDDIC, adapting to the landscape around them.
And let’s face it — that landscape has significantly changed….
Never has there been a time when customer empathy has been so important.
The COVID lockdown has presented all companies with challenging situations in relation to their people and, frankly, their survival.
Making net new sales in times when customers are asking for payment holidays, reduction in contracts, extended payment terms, rebates, credits — across the entire industry — it’ one of the toughest environments any net-new-salespeople have ever faced.
For those of us who have been through a recession or two, we know that from the ashes, a phoenix will rise, but for those new to this environment there are two traps to watch out for:
However, in this environment, there is considerable opportunity for those who do adapt.
Whilst we could be negative about how hard it is to sell right now, let’s be clear, lots of salespeople ARE SELLING.
Working with a number of start-ups and corporates, in this period, I have seen there has been a considerable uptick in software and services sales in this difficult economy.
So who are making the sales and which markets are buying?
For me, I see a few patterns in the customer stories:
The NHS is a great, albeit, extreme example of this.
The NHS have implemented a significant amount of tech in the last few months — and at considerable pace. Pre-COVID this would have been a slow drawn out process.
But even if we take the NHS out of the equation, as the hardest hit front line, other companies are adapting at speed.
There are many companies who see lockdown as an opportunity to invest in innovation and accelerate into new markets which previously would have taken years. In some cases, these companies are pushing purely out of necessity — do or die — where the old business models just wouldn’t survive in this new climate.
A pivot in go-to-market might sound extreme, however, two companies have said in the last week have said that their new business model (created during lockdown) is significantly more profitable than their previous model.
In some cases, these new models were loss-leading ideas initially, but they have now turned the company around and there is hope for the future, as we continue to feel the freeze on the economy.
Therefore, this is where we need to focus in sales.
And innovation is needed on our part too — not just innovation in our customers.
We need to find new business models, financial models, give and take a little to creation new-vendor-side-innovation.
We must be bold with our thinking. Take a chance with our customers, knowing our success is based on their survival.
So, if there is opportunity out there, why can’t we sell to those people the way we always have?
In some respects, we can! Some of the blueprint in selling has not changed.
Customers will require a robust business case more than ever, and all expenditure, especially un-budgeted costs, will go straight to the very top of any organisation.
However, the customer champion landscape has changed.
[Note: MEDDIC definition of a champion = someone with power and influence, who will fight for the cause.]
Personally, I think there are a couple of tweaks we need to consider in our approach when now on identifying these champions:
Firstly, we must not assume people will operate the same way they always have.
People are changing roles on the fly plus customer governance has tightened.
So, if you’ve had a customer champion in the past, best check in that they still are / could be a champion in the future.
Also, remote working has considerably formalised many of these internal conversations with our customers — so there is now a real need to understand how the customer operates day to day, to identify those who could be your champion.
When I say ‘how they operate’ — I am specifically referring to the meetings and forums which are happening online. Gone are the days of people hanging out, chatting, grabbing lunch together or playing golf.
There is a real need to understand those new forums and who is interacting with who, in this new environment.
With many people juggling their personal lives, home schooling and work, squeezing in a little side conversation is tricky, so understanding how the political landscape has adjusted in these times, will be imperative.
Great salespeople will continuously evolve their style — just like they did in the dot.com era and financial crisis — when economies collapsed, innovation accelerated and new opportunities emerged.
Customers need empathy and innovative thinking right now.
And those salespeople who go back to basics with a MEDDIC approach and adapt their style will make the most of these difficult times.
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