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3 Strategies for Succeeding in a Digital Sales Environment

February 9, 2021

Trade shows are shuttered down. Employees are working from home. In-person meetings are few and far between. There’s no denying that COVID-19 has completely changed business as usual. Looking ahead, sales teams are left to wonder: How can we continue driving revenue in a digital-first environment?

Karla Berman is well-versed in the world of sales. With more than 15 years of experience in technology and media, she has served as the director of Consumer Goods for Google Mexico and led YouTube’s commercial strategy for Latin America. In January 2020, she became the Vice President of Sales at Yalochat, a B Capital portfolio company that helps businesses converse with customers on popular apps like iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.

During B Capital’s Marketing and Sales in a Digital-First Environment webinar, Berman shared insider tips for optimizing sales in a virtual environment — through the pandemic and beyond.

Here are three ways your company can align sales to a remote reality.

  1. Reframe “Research Online, Purchase Offline”

The digital marketing acronym ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) has been redefined during COVID-19.

Picture a prospective TV buyer. In the past, they would have conducted online research — then likely visited a store to see models up close and speak with a salesperson. Now, many stores are closed due to the pandemic. And even if they are open, thousands of people are afraid to enter due to health concerns.

To overcome this obstacle, Yalochat uses conversational commerce that connects prospective buyers with expert sellers. Instead of communicating through a corporate website, salespeople can send messages directly to consumers’ phones through apps like iMessage and WhatsApp. “You get connected with a specialized seller that used to be on the floor of the store,” explained Berman. “They know everything about TVs. You’re chatting with them, asking if you can install parental controls, if this model is compatible with the Amazon Fire Stick — whatever you would ask in person at the store.”

Using this method, Yalochat has helped companies triple and even quadruple their website conversion rates. The takeaway for sales teams? “ROPO wasn’t only about touching the product,” said Berman. “It was about that final conversation you had with a very experienced salesperson who could guide you through the last questions about your purchase.”

  1. Cultivate company culture among your sales team

As a business, you want to attract and retain the best salespeople — and that starts with building a great company culture. According to one study, organizations with strong company cultures have 72% higher employee engagement than those with weak ones, leading to increased job satisfaction, higher productivity, and lower turnover. But with 70% of full-time employees in the U.S. working from home during COVID-19, maintaining company culture can be especially challenging.

Salespeople are your brand’s most active representatives, sharing products and services with the world to attract customers and drive revenue. Yet, without a strong company culture to keep them engaged, motivated, and recharged, even the best talent can burn out.

Like most companies, Yalochat went fully remote when the pandemic hit. Since Berman’s team no longer shares the same space eight hours a day, they’ve had to be more intentional about the time they do spend together.

“Now, when our salespeople are in town, we have socially distanced meetups — but with no agenda,” said Berman. “It’s almost prohibited to speak about work. For instance, we might just get dinner together. Before, we didn’t do that as much. Face-to-face interactions have become more special.”

Looking ahead, Yalochat even plans to host two- or three-day sales retreats every few months, providing regular opportunities for employees to connect in person (and cultivating company culture in the process).

  1. Adapt organizational structure and procedural norms

When the pandemic struck, we had to react very quickly,” said Berman. “We realized that we needed a much flatter organization, with more hands on the ground.” Although travel was no longer on the table, Yalochat still had to reach many customers and hit critical sales quotes. “We wanted our best people to be out there selling, instead of managing a team,” said Berman.

Rather than stifling opportunities, remote work has actually opened more doors for Berman’s team. “Getting that first sales meeting has been much easier,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s easier to give a salesperson 15 minutes of time over a computer than in person.”

Without the added stress of commuting and coordination, prospects are free to take a call they may otherwise have turned down. “When it’s in person, it feels like it’s harder to get a meeting on the calendar,” said Berman. “I think the efficiencies of meeting remotely will probably stay.”

Forging ahead with focus

With the right tools and tactics, sales teams can drive revenue from anywhere in the world. Above all else, one thing is critical: focus. “I think ‘focus’ is such a jargony word, and everybody uses it,” said Berman. “But when you actually do focus, you understand that every time you said you were focusing before, you really weren’t.”

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