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Creating Customer Connections While Social Distancing

Interview with Michael Young

Interview with Michael Young

Regional Director-NA, Wellington Technologies, LTD

The current shutdown of meeting in-person and travel has forced companies to modify and reevaluate the way they interact with their customers during the B2B sales process.

Zig Ziglar famously said:

If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they TRUST you, they’ll do business with you.

While still a truism, it is more challenging to establish like and trust in a global environment where global cultures determine each customer’s norm of what makes someone likable and trustworthy. According to recent Harvard research by Jeanne Brett and Tyree Mitchell, there are 2 criteria that can guide understanding on how to create business trust:

  1. Understanding how open the culture is in normal social situations.
  2. Understanding how closely the culture monitors the breaking of social norms.

The researchers went on to breakdown the study results into general regions and cultures.

  1. North America and Europe: They were generally open to people and tended to trust but verify.
  2. Eastern Asian: They are looking to partner with people who have built a reputation for competency.
  3. Middle Eastern and South Asian Cultures: They were looking for a partner who respected their culture.
  4. Latin American Cultures: They were looking for partners that shared their values first and value developing the social relationship first before a business partnership
All of the relationships did depend on a person reaching out to them.

So how has COVID impacted the personal interactions of Global B2B Sales Professionals with their current and potential clients?

McKinsey surveyed companies, in 11 countries, on how COVID was having an impact on B2B sales.  The survey showed a shift in mindset and modified methods of communicating with customers:

  1. B2B companies view digital interactions 2 to 3X more important to their customers than traditional sales interactions.
  2.  90% of the respondents shared they had shifted to online video conferencing, phone, web sales models.

I asked Michael Young, Regional Director-North America, Wellington Technologies, LTD his thoughts on how to create meaningful interactions with customers when you can’t meet with them face to face.

What solution does Wellington Technologies, LTD provide for their customers?

Wellington uses IoT technologies to help leading brands and retailers engage their customers in ways that create engaging experiences and develop powerful customer insights.

Who are the professionals within an organization that you build relationships with for your solution?

We build long-term, strategic relationships with Marketing and Brand Management teams within organizations. We also work with IT and Asset Management teams to efficiently and effectively deploy a program anywhere in the world.

What do you consider best practices for creating human-like interactions with customers?

Creating human-like interactions with customers in today’s world requires tight integration and goal alignment between the Marketing and Sales teams where each understands their company’s value, the customer’s unique needs, and how their company meets them better than anyone else. 

From a Marketing perspective, the days of automatically providing drip marketing pieces to prospects, when “content was king” are long gone. Today, context is King and Queen. Marketing needs to understand the customer’s situation, their particular problems, and the why’s behind them looking for a solution. Then, they need to quickly pivot existing content and share it to meet the customer’s needs in a culturally acceptable way. This establishes Expertise, Authority, and generates Trust with customers (“EAT”). Doing this at scale requires micro-segmentation and advanced software to execute and create high-quality leads rapidly.

chatbotFrom a Sales perspective, the team must quickly engage the lead – usually within 24 hours. This could be via text bots, Business Development Rep’s video conferencing or webinars. Since different channels are popular with different people, don’t be afraid to engage beyond email or LinkedIn, such as via WhatsApp, text, Facebook, 1:1 video messaging, and more to see what works with each customer. When engaging, try to leverage available personality insights like those offered by CrystalKnows, IBM Watson Personality Insights, or others to maximize the efficacy of your communications.

However, not everything about engaging leads today is new and high tech. Like always, Sales must stay focused on the customer’s need (which may change throughout an engagement), the company’s value, and whether they are continuing to generate EAT in a way that helps the customer, or whether they are just gushing and pushing the lead away.

By working together to maintain relevance and using technology to engage and communicate in the way that a customer wants, Marketing & Sales teams create business interactions that drive revenue in a touchless, virtual business world

Michael, thank you for sharing your insights with Big Thinks.  You can follow or connect with Michael Young on LinkedIn.

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