Find out what Clara Shih, Hearsay Systems Founder and CEO, and others talked about in the LinkedIn Sales Solutions livestream panel discussion The Transition to Digital Selling. Get insights and best practices on how to navigate this new digital selling landscape.
COVID-19 has impacted every part of the world, and the business world is no exception. Everyone has had to learn how to adapt. In the LinkedIn Sales Solutions livestream panel discussion The Transition to Digital Selling, Hearsay Systems Founder and CEO, Clara Shih shared her insights and best practices on how to navigate this new landscape.
Moderated by Alyssa Merwin, VP of North America for LinkedIn Sales Solutions, the discussion centered on the transformation needed for sales professionals to not only survive the current economic climate but to thrive as well. Aptly summarizing the disruption everyone is experiencing, Alyssa began the conversation with a quote from Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella: “Two years of digital transformation has happened in the last two months, and many of us have not been prepared for that.”
Embracing Digital Engagement and Digital Selling
When asked what changes she sees among the Fortune 500 clients Hearsay works with, Clara described the delicate balance financial firms in particular are currently facing. Existing as both highly regulated and essential businesses, financial firms are experiencing an additional complexity amid the torrent of COVID-19. Clara then cited examples such as JP Morgan Chase, Allstate, American Family, and TD Ameritrade as Hearsay clients who swiftly shifted in the wake of COVID-19 to completely virtual models. Within days, they were able to embrace digital engagement and digital selling to protect their employees while also continuing to serve their clients. “Digital selling has rapidly shifted from a nice-to-have to a must-have,” she said.
How to Build Trust in a Virtual World
Clara also shared two key insights into how to build trust and rapport in a digital world. “It starts with having the right mindset,” she said. “It’s a mindset that is customer first and it’s a mindset of just acting—because to do nothing right now is the worst thing you can do.” Once you have that mindset, the second area to focus on is having “an appreciation for the fact that the more channels you’re connected with someone, the deeper a relationship you have.” Digital platforms allow agents and advisors to connect in more ways than ever existed before, whether it’s through texting, emailing, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram to name a few. Translating those connections into digital selling,” Clara continued, “everyone talks about having a good sales call or having a good sales meeting, but a great sales call actually starts with having a really good LinkedIn profile and having done your homework.”
But how do you build trust virtually when the established way of meeting in person isn’t possible? Clara shared her learnings: “It’s doing your homework, it’s going through your trusted network. Those referrals and recommendations from mutual connections are more important than ever to compensate for the lost way of establishing trust.” And like any valued connection, being able to continually deepen that relationship through things like thought leadership is essential. “Today, especially with COVID, we’re in permission sales. Reps have to earn the right to get that customer on the phone.”
Prospecting vs. Deepening Existing Customer Relationships
As the discussion continued, Alyssa shared results from a recent LinkedIn survey that polled 500 sales professionals. The results showed that 70% of sales professionals are making customer retention a higher priority in today’s environment. Clara concurred, sharing that Hearsay itself is seeing that “if a customer is happy, they tend to end up doing more business with us,” adding that analytics suggest that, even pre-COVID, being there for your clients can allow you to “forge customers for life, and they remember that servicing moment. They remember when you went the extra mile and they appreciate that you were proactive.”
What Should Stay in the New Normal?
While the learning curve of this digital transformation has been steep, organizations continue to evolve and adapt. So what should stay in this new reality based on the lessons this time of crisis has taught us? “This is a time where we have to be human and we have to be authentic,” Clara concluded. “Going forward, it’s going to be human digital engagement. If you’re human without digital, it’s just not possible or scalable right now given we have to be apart. If you’re digital and not human, whether you’re just a bot or you’re a sales rep who sounds like a bot because you’re just sending a canned pitch—that’s not going to work either. It’s really the combination of the two and I think we’ll be better for it.”
To hear Clara’s remarks in their entirety and also learn from other panelists, you can watch the discussion here.