Don’t kid yourself trying to do remote selling, especially during lockdown. Optimally, position yourself to be found – you will never have to sell a day in your life. Customers will find you. Customers will buy from you.

By Paul Naidoo

Remote buying has existed from the very first time someone could buy online. Until about 20 years ago, people could make cold calls and sell remotely. If you ever sell something remotely today, trust me, it is definitely the convergence and alignment of a number of factors in the buying process that culminated in the purchase action. It was not simply an isolated remote selling process that created the sale.

Times have changed. Remote selling does not exist. Don’t kid yourself and use up time and energy with no results. You will frustrate yourself. You will start believing that you are bad at sales.

I could fill the pages of this magazine describing the various technologies available to make it easy for customers to buy from you. From inbound call centres, campaigns, advertising, traditional marketing methods, digital marketing and many others, customers are spoilt for choice as to how they buy – and who they buy from.

Customers don’t want to be sold to, they want to buy from you. Customers have dictated the difference between order taking and order making.

The Covid-19 lockdown has simply highlighted the need for professional sales people to be optimally positioned for customers to be able to do business with them with effortless ease.

This lockdown has really highlighted the difference between bus-y-ness and bus-i-ness. The fact that the majority of salespeople were not ready for a lockdown is one issue. The real issue, though, is whether they will go back to the way that things were done, or will they embrace a new world in channel sales?

Optimal positioning is the key to sales success in a remote working environment, just as location was key to retail outlets. An optimally positioned sales professional can never be retrenched, nor can his virtual outlet be closed down. If for some reason his company closes down, he can simply become an entrepreneur and still supply his customers from virtual warehouses. No physical structure needed.

So how do today’s sales professionals optimally position themselves for customers to buy from them? Firstly, it does not mean that you do away with face to face human interaction. Just for now, during lockdown, this is necessary.

For remote selling to be effective, one has to accept that your main activity will be remote order taking. Essentially, this means that you have optimally positioned yourself for remote buying to take place. This remote buying activity can be a phone call, an email, a WhatsApp, SMS, online purchase, e-commerce transaction, an app … the method that the customer uses to place the order depends entirely on the buyer persona and their preference.

What’s most important is that they were able to find you. You are optimally positioned to be found. Recently, I saw some desperate posts on Facebook for people looking for USB modems, HDMI cables and laptops etc. to work from home. People urgently needed printers and a host of other hardware and software. Surprisingly, it was only their friends trying to help them and not the usual companies who specialise in this.

The lockdown has given us many lessons to learn, adapt and execute in new ways never thought of before or previously neglected. More than ever, social media marketing and social media selling have to be taken seriously.

Take a look at the massive efforts that multinationals are putting into social media marketing. If you are in distribution or a partner sales professional, you need to take a serious look at simple social selling. Make use of  the digital marketing assets produced by your respective vendors.

The biggest outcome of simple social selling is that you will be found. Customers will buy from you. You can be anywhere in the world, even in lockdown, and the right conversations will take place. When lockdown is over your orders will fly in. You did the preparatory work together with your customer.

Your customers will buy from you. Vendors and distributors need to make resources available to their channel partners to be the best at all times and lockdown is proof that we have a lot to learn and a lot that we should not take for granted.

My appeal to all professional sales people in the channel, is to stop trying to sell remotely. You will get frustrated. Use what’s left of the lockdown time to articulate a well-structured and formally executed process of simple social selling. Please note that simple social selling is not the same as reposting or sharing content released by your respective vendors.

The good news is that the majority of ICT sales professionals in South Africa rank amongst the best in the world, if not better. Why not use this lockdown time to become the world leaders in optimally positioning yourself for customers to buy from you.