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How to help the SMBs get back to business by being the Trusted Local Expert. What does it look like to reopen and how to communicate it to the SMBs customer base?
George Leith is back to bring you another edition of the Master Sales Training Series. We discuss two things, first, being the trusted local expert; that’s you. Reviewing how you operate as an organization, is it making your appointments remotely? Is it reallocating your budget? How are you delivering value to your client? George explores what you should be talking to your customer base about, what really matters to them, and how can we – the trusted local experts – be there to help them succeed.
The second, are you open? Ensuring that once the SMB is open for business, they are able to communicate it to their clientele. The flip side to that, how are they communicating what they needed to scale back and possibly close their doors once again. How can we, as the trusted local expert’s aid in the communicate it in these unprecedented times?
George: Welcome to the latest edition of the Conquer Local podcast. You know, the COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented disruption in the economies of countries all over the world, there really isn’t anywhere, you know, one place that I thought there might not be disruption is Iceland but my friends in Iceland tell me that, no, they were disrupted as well. So it really, there has been no prejudice, everybody has been impacted by this. And now we’re starting to hear that various jurisdictions are going back to business, but the one thing to be sure of is that it will never be the way that it was.
George: Businesses are impacted, families are impacted, industries are impacted, some industries might completely go away after this, which is just staggering. We’re going to dig in to the things that you need to do to bring your organization back to business and then what should you be speaking to your customer base about? What are the things that they need to be thinking about when they go back to business? It’s the back to business edition of the Conquer Local podcast, coming up next.
How to Get Ready for Going Back to Work
George: In doing the research to prepare for this episode, we thought a lot about our partners, the agencies, media companies, resellers that are dealing with a group of customers and the things that they should be doing, to get ready to go back to business. But then, I don’t think that it would be a proper look at going back to business, if we didn’t speak about the clients that we serve, those end users, those end businesses that are touching the technology and the solutions and the strategy, the people that we wake up every day to serve, to pay the bills. So we got two groups here that we’re gonna speak about, the first is, let’s talk about you, as a trusted local advisor, what are some things that you need to be thinking about when you get ready to go back to business?
George: And one of them is, maybe you could do a lot of your appointments remote. Because you’ve had to do it for the past month and a half and I’ve been talking to a lot of agency and partners, owners of organizations and they’re saying, you know, we’re taking a hard look at our budget, and the money that we used to invest into doing travel to see customers or specific events, we’re finding that maybe there’s a different way to do that. And I think that is going to be one of the things that stretches, not only across the reseller group that we’re speaking of or the partners that are delivering the digital solutions, but then to their customer bases. I think everyone’s gonna be taking a good hard look at where they’re spending the money and those discretionary dollars are pretty much going away, plus, we’re gonna have to have a way better ROI discussion.
George: So, we did that travel, and I did a lot of it over the years, and not just in this career, but in other careers, you went to see your client, that was just the way that it was done. And in the last month, month and a half, we haven’t had that luxury and some of us have performed quite well, much to my surprise. Now, I’ve been doing a lot of remote work over the years, it’s just part of our industry but what I’m finding is companies that I didn’t expect are saying, no, we recorded a virtual tour of our properties as a real estate agent, and we’re just doing a screen share, or we’re sharing a link on YouTube and I think that everyone is taking a good hard look at what technology they could deploy, to be more efficient, and it was this event that was the catalyst for us to have a look at this.
How Are We Giving Back to Those Who Are Working With Us?
George: So the next thing is, how are we delivering value to our customer base, the people that are paying us? I’ve talked a number of times on this podcast about what I like to call adoption campaigns, you make the sale to the client, you make some sort of promise on the solution and how it’s gonna solve the problem and then you never talk about that value proposition again. Well, you might talk about it when you’re looking for the renewal or you’re trying to talk them off the ledge from leaving you, but what about deploying that adoption information that supports the original value proposition or maybe you have an expanded value proposition of the thing that you’ve sold, the solution that you’ve sold, we could deliver that by email, we could come up with a newsletter, we could use white paper or a case study, there are all sorts of ways we could deliver that information, rather than sitting across from the client, face to face.
George: I think that the delivery mechanism of us showing the ROI and the value proposition may have been changed forever. The other thing is, keep in mind that your prospect, now that you could go see them face to face, they may not wanna see you. You may be dealing with a prospect across the table that uses Purell every five seconds and wipes down everything with a Lysol wipe, those folks, I’m not one of them, maybe I should be more like that, my wife tells me I should wash my hands a lot more than she used to but I think that we have to be very empathetic to people that may be concerned about that. And that’s not gonna go away anytime soon, so I think that’s something that we’re going to have to deal with.
George: I was at the grocery store the other day, and I may have been inside the six foot barrier and the person in front of me in line glared at me. Now, I know I wasn’t, but that’s the world that we live in now. So I think we have to think about that when it comes to face-to-face sales calls, that things are just gonna be a little bit different. You’re like, “Oh, I can’t get an appointment with this customer.” Yeah, it might just be that they would just be more comfortable with an online appointment with you, so why not give them the choice. It is way more efficient for you to deliver a virtual online screen share, than drive around and see your customers, because that’s the way that you are used to delivering value. So I would like you to think about that.
Are You Open?
George: Number two, are you even open? We’re gonna have to reopen, to go back to business and reopening is way different today than it used to be. I think that you’re gonna find a lot of businesses, whether it be your customer base or even you as a reseller, there’s gonna be sites that are saying you’re closed and they decided that you were closed based upon user intervention. So Google My Business is the example that I’ll use because it’s an easy one that I think everybody understands. Google My Business decided to put that red bar there that businesses are temporarily closed based on two things, the business owner changed their profile on Google My Business, or users suggested an edit of that profile. So those are the two things that happened. Now, let’s talk about Yelp, Yelp decided to just put blue bars on everything, and just say, “Contact your local business to see if they’re open.” Now, I’ve challenged that because I’m like, are you a listing site or are you not? Should I not be able to tell you that I’m… No, they just randomly put a blue box across there and said, “Businesses are closed, call them for details.” So just think about that for you, your organization and for your customer base. How are you going to help them to transition to being open for business and more than ever? And not because I’m involved in an industry that sells solutions, that help you syndicate listing information. I’m just saying, more than ever, everything points to this, you are going to have to have a scalable solution to be able to just press a button and say, today I’m open, and press a button and say, tomorrow I’m closed. Because what we don’t know, is will certain regions just randomly close down based upon some sort of an outbreak.
George: So if the healthcare professionals see that cases start to rise again, flatten the curve is a thing and they’re gonna just walk in and say, “No, we’re going back to these protocols again, and you’re gonna have to shut down.” Or “You’re going to have to tell your client base that you’ve transitioned.” So, this is for any of the businesses out there, whether it’s you as an agency or a reseller, or your client base that have transitioned to some sort of online transaction. This is where you’re gonna wanna go to those places where you’re found online and say, “We may be closed physically, where you can’t come into our showroom, but our virtual showroom is open, 24/7.” So the messaging is a little bit different. I think this whole idea around, open, closed, what are they offering, reduced menu, reduced offering set, all of those things are up in the air now.
Working Towards the Future
George: Consumers have no idea what’s happening. They’re going to do more research, they’re going to be looking for answers and you need to position yourself, as a trusted provider, to at least have your house in order and then to pass that information through to your client base. Now, the next thing we have to think about is our staff and the way that they are interacting with customers, how is that going to look? And how is your brand gonna be recognized? What is it you’re going to take forward? How are you gonna train those teams on how to communicate? So we’ve talked a lot over the last few episodes, and our guests have talked about it, around having empathy. How are you doing? Is everything okay? Are there ways that I might be able to help you? And then have some suggestions, that type of empathy is a really important piece of the puzzle. Then number two, is to be bringing value and bringing suggestions because I think there’s gonna be a lot of people who have no idea what to do. They don’t know what the best practice is going to be. In fact, as we prepared for this episode, I talked to a number of different experts and I got different views on what this might look like. So I think continuing to be informed and looking for the best practices because I think, this is a moving target, and we will figure it out as we go but keep in mind, what you’re trying to bring to your client base is you know the answer, or you’re gonna be able to find the answer, and then you’re going to have the tactics to be able to make that answer come true. So, we’ve talked a lot about constant learning but I think we’re in a time where the businesses that are going to make it, whether it’s you as the reseller or your client base, are the ones that are going to be prepared to learn, the ones that are gonna be prepared to pivot and move and change and then this idea of over communication, I don’t think that you can communicate enough in this time.
George: Consumers are gonna be looking, they’re gonna be doing research, they’re gonna be choosing to support the brands, that give them the answers that they’re looking for. How are you gonna ensure that as a reseller, you have those right answers and then you’re able to pass that knowledge, information and best practice through to your client base, regardless of the industry that they’re in? So just a few thoughts that we’ve had, as you get ready to go back to business, whether it’s you as the reseller, or to your client base, it’s a conversation that will be had over and over, and over again over the coming months and I think that it’s something that we will continue to talk about and to bring experts forward, that maybe have figured it out.
George: So we’ll be looking for those folks. If you know of people who are figuring this out or have some of the best practices, we’d love to hear about them. So reach out to producer Colleen or myself on LinkedIn, or inside the Conquer Local community, so we can continue to bring inside these Master Sales Training Series, the best practices as we move through this uncertain time, and we figure out what the new normal will be. Thanks for joining us in the Conquer Local podcast. As always, my name is George Leith, I’ll see you when I see you.