Covid19 has transformed the business world.
There used to be companies that insisted you had to be in the office. There was also people who insisted you had to meet face-to-face. Not anymore.
Where as before, I would commute to see somebody face-to-face, I now walk to my desk and meet them through Zoom. Will I go back to commuting on a train? I doubt it.
Yesterday I put the briefcase I use to carry my macbook away, I'm not expecting to use it again in the near future.
We are also all used to going on line and buying things. We have accelerated these buying patterns, my mother (82) is now running her wine group through Zoom. I realise the fact that a bunch of retired people run a wine group through zoom is "interesting", but they have created their own "supply chain" so the bottles are distributed. They are therefore able to taste the same wine at the same time.
The New Normal is Digital
“After weeks of adapting to Zoom parties, video appointments with doctors, online schooling, social distancing and tapping into social media for virtually everything, will people be happy to go back to their old ways of working and engaging with each other?”
she then goes on to ask.
“The answer will be no. Social media has been holding communities together and organisations will need to assess how to manage the new normal.”
What does this mean for buyers and sellers and what does it mean for business leaders?
The Networked (Digital) Leader
I've been in sales a few years now, started cold calling and sending letters and then sent emails when email took off. I wrote my first book "Social Selling - techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers" where I put forward what I could see in the sales community that buyers were now on social networks. You could contact them, within reason and sell stuff.
Things seem to have accelerated.
"It is a remarkable time in this particular moment in human history, where most organizations have become almost entirely distributed, yet for the first time still remain largely functional."
In other words, we are all working remotely; we have all got used to it; and work (and life) still goes on.
We, are, all of us, buyers and sellers, as Dion would say "living through a wifi connection".
Dion explains how we are gaining certain skills, the use of social media in our daily lives. We use Slack here at DLA Ignite, but that could also be Teams by Microsoft. I love Slack as it makes communication a short form, where as email is such a "time suck".
At my last company we ran the business on social and it was an eye opener. With email people can look busy, with social you can see who is and who is not contributing to the business.
We All have Network Leadership Skills Now
The last few months has required us to learn "network leadership".
Where as, you used to "wonder down the corridor" to see somebody, you now communicate with a colleague through a social network. Switching that around, there are leaders leaving their Zoom links open, should somebody want to drop by. Instead of my office door is always open, my Zoom link is always open.
A number of organisations are using video to send messages. Whereas, before Covid_19 you would have "stuck your head around a door" now people send 2 minute videos. We have a client, whose sales people send 2 minute videos as to what they have done that week. You get the information you need, it saves time and is more efficient. The Coronavirus is driving cost out of a business and making it a better place to work.
At my last organisation, we used social networks to enable maternity returners to contribute quicker, to get new starters to contribute quicker, to increase efficiency of current employees by 25%. All ways that social and network leadership enabled us to increase efficiency, strip out cost and provide better working conditions. I make no apology that those case studies will have a business $ contribution, but that was how the management thought and how we could prove business impact.
We can all see that now in our Covid19 world, we can also see the mental health benefits and the employee experience benefits.
The Connected (Digital) Leader and Buyer
These digital networking skills we are gaining we will of course put into everyday practice. What do I mean?
We now expect our employees to be on networks, so we will expect our prospects, customers, employees, suppliers, etc to be on networks.
It won't take long for people to make the "jump" from Slack to Linkedin for example. As we are comfortable working in a decentralised way on Slack, so we can do this on Linkedin. The skills we have picked up during Covid_19 using social internally and transferable to a professional network such as LinkedIn.
I always thought that people would get use to Linkedin and then migrate to Slack. But Covid19 has forced the evolution the other way. We are used to Network working and the skills we are using today, in lockdown will be driven onto social media.
The Analogue Selling Conundrum
The longer Covid-19 goes on, the more we will build "network" skills and the more we will expect the people selling to us to behave in the same way.
The more cold calling, cold emails and advertising seems to be from a bygone age. (Well in fact advertising if from the 1930s, cold calling from the 1980s and cold emails from the 1990s).
Where as, I mentioned in my book that people need to get these skills, now everyone has network and social selling. And it seems defacto, just like Powerpoint, Excel, Teams and Zoom skills.
Dion closes his article by saying "everyone can get started on network leadership these days." in fact I'm not even sure I remember a time before working remotely through Zoom and Social. Will we go back, of course not this is the new normal!
Getting Your Sales Team on Social
I'm going to have to talk about the "elephant in the room" which is about your own sales team and the fact they are NOT social.
Social is not posting, social is not posting corporate content that marketing have told you to post. Social is not having emojis in your Linkedin profile, something that actually impacts the algorithm negatively. Social Selling (often called Modern Selling) is a methodology to enable you to sell more, or right now in the Covid-19 world to sell.
Take a look at your sales people's Linkedin profiles are they working hard for them? Do they stand out from the competition or do they look like every other salesperson? Are they using their Linkedin profile to qualify deals, so they only sell to the people who will buy from them? Think of the efficiency saving if you stop chasing business you cannot close / win.
Are they using content to accelerate deals through the pipe? Are they using social to prospect? Are they using social to close deals?
Selling has been reinvented, not by me or by any of us at DLA Ignite, but by your buyers.
If you want to chat about how we can transform your sales team, you can contact me here
With governments and organizations still working to contain COVID-19 and stem the growing humanitarian toll it is exacting, the effects on customer behaviors are beginning to ripple across the B2B landscape. Through a series of regular, global surveys, we are tracking how customers’ expectations, spending, and behaviors change throughout the crisis across multiple countries over time. Please check back regularly for updates.