- Whether they like it or not, most salespeople have had to contend with the onset of digital selling in their jobs. But seasoned pros will tell you they never stop learning in sales, and right now is no different.
- Sales veteran and lover of the cold call Charlotte Lloyd recently transitioned from traditional to digital selling, and she’s here to share her best insights from the experience. The key to her success? Ditching the pitch for a problem-based approach.
- Charlotte provides a step-by-step guide to acing digital sales, starting with effective cold calling. She explains how to use technology to facilitate engagement and stand out from the pack.
Let’s be honest: Most salespeople don’t love cold calling. (In fact, many might admit that they actually hate it.)
Not Charlotte Lloyd. She spent 13 years working in global corporate sales at the Financial Times, plying her passion for relationship selling into a love for the cold call. There, she approached her job the old-fashioned way: meetings with clients, attending events, and networking at conferences.
But that all changed when the pandemic hit, and her career took a turn into digital selling. “I felt like I’d been thrown into the deep end,” she says, of the challenge of moving to a new company, selling a more complex product, and having to do so without being able to meet anyone.
Cause for despair? Hardly. Charlotte says she was fascinated by the opportunity to learn new tactics and tools. And two years in, she now says she likes digital selling.
Charlotte paid a visit to the 0 to 5 Million podcast to share what she’s learned from her professional evolution into the digital landscape. She touches on strategies for problem-based selling, new technological tools, and a recipe for success for that fickle — but still relevant! — friend, the cold call.
Use new tech to sell new tech
As a more traditional salesperson, when Charlotte moved to a digital approach, she suddenly had a wide range of new technological solutions to add to her toolkit. Prior to 2020, she had never even used Zoom or Microsoft Teams, so she needed to get up to speed fast.
Plus, the product she was selling was much more complex — and that, in itself, required updated strategies. “The solution I’m selling is very much about using technology, and there’s no better way to do it than with new technology,” she explains.
Specifically, Charlotte has had great success using voice and video messages as a dynamic and unexpected way to reach out to clients. With most professionals straining to manage email inboxes that are bursting at the seams, a quick audio or visual message can be the perfect way to cut through the clutter.
Charlotte is a big fan of LinkedIn voice notes. “It’s really quite incredible the amount of feedback I’ve gotten: I would say 90% [is] positive.” Most clients’ first response is that they didn’t even know such messages existed.
It can be tempting to remain in your comfort zone doing things the way you always have, but the possibilities offered by new tech are worth exploring, whether you’re in the online or offline world. The most successful salespeople will be those who figure out how to deploy digital tools to their advantage.
Ditch the pitch and switch to problem-based selling
Even after so many years in sales, Charlotte struggled to adapt when she first started at her new position. Her traditional approach kept hitting a wall. “I was focusing on the product because I was so excited about what it could do for my clients,” she explains. But that type of pitch-based messaging wasn’t right for the digital landscape.
The new paradigm is more problem-based. So rather than being about, ‘Here’s my product. Here are the features. Here are the benefits. Do you want it?’ it’s about, ‘What’s the magnitude of the problem? What’s the impact of not solving it? How have you tried to solve it in the past?’
Charlotte calls this a “challenger conversation.” She has found that sellers can be too keen to just get into the demo, without first exploring the expectations and needs people want addressed. Instead, she recommends problem-based selling as a way to “challenge clients to think differently about how they do business.”
Successful cold calling in the digital age
Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on who you’re talking to — cold calling hasn’t completely disappeared from digital sales. Despite Charlotte’s love of the art, she admits to seeing “quite a reluctance” from her teams when it comes time to pick up that phone.
Throw away the old rule book, because this isn’t your grandfather’s cold calling. Charlotte breaks down the steps of how to leverage technology and a problem-based approach to maybe (just maybe) learn to love cold calls as much as she does.
Charlotte recommends seeking out resources like websites and podcasts to develop a list of great permission-based cold call starters. Her particular favorites, in addition to 0 to 5 Million, include 30 Minutes to President’s Club, Sales Success Stories, and Make it Happen Mondays.
She also starts all calls by laying out an agenda, a lesson she learned the hard way. Launching into a script without letting people know how long it would last or what would be covered is a sure-fire recipe for hang-ups, she found. Instead, ask each person what they want to accomplish and tell them your own goals for the call.
With people under time pressure, and video-call fatigue setting in, the best way to make sure people stay engaged is to set expectations early and then stick to them.
On a good cold call, Charlotte estimates that she can ask two or three questions, but time is usually a factor. Her typical call-to-action is therefore to book an appointment to speak the following week when there will be more time for questions and discovery.
The second call is where she deploys her problem-based approach in full. Her client base has never used a product like the one she’s selling, so it’s important to take the time to make it relevant to them. Understanding their problems is the path to selling them a solution.
✅Presenting and teaching
The final step is presenting the product as a response to what the client has said and teaching them to think about their business differently.
It’s more about conversation than prescription, Charlotte explains. And that conversation shouldn’t be limited to phone calls and emails but should expand to include all the possibilities offered by multimedia messaging. This approach is effective, distinctive, and yet another way of teaching through modeling behavior.
The age of digital sales is here, but that doesn’t mean salespeople need to put their old toolkits away on the shelf. There’s much to learn but not necessarily to fear.
Charlotte has come to truly embrace the opportunities and advancements of digital sales, and with her advice, so can you!