New technology and working from home has revolutionized the practice of selling, changing the way sales professionals connect with potential clients in the COVID-19 era. Recognizing the impact technology and distance work can have on sales strategy will be key to leveraging advantages–and avoiding pitfalls.
These were some of the insights shared by Eric Maldonado, BBA ’86, senior vice president and managing director, global head of financial service sales, at technology firm IHS Markit. He presented his thoughts as the speaker at Wertheim Wisdom Wednesday: Pivoting Your Sales Approach in Times of Crisis, held virtually via Zoom video conferencing on April 15, 2020.
Wertheim Wisdom Wednesdays, a virtual miniseries of FIU Business’ Wertheim Lecture Series, presents prominent speakers to the FIU Business community through the generosity of Herbert Wertheim. The series pivoted to Zoom in the wake of social distancing. The talk was attended by more than 200 viewers live, and can be viewed in its entirety on this website.
The key take-away, according to Maldonado: working remotely is here to stay, which will have a wide-ranging impact both on workplaces and sales practices.
“We have the technology now, and we are not going to travel for a couple of reasons,” Maldonado said. “One is health. This pandemic is here, it is going to take a couple of years to get it through the system and get vaccines, so travel is going to be limited.”
Air travel will also be more expensive, he said, and there will not be much of it. However, he noted, “We are still expected to deliver for our investors and our employees, so we have to figure out how to sell.”
Maldonado’s main priority, after securing the safety of his workforce, was to make sure everyone become fluent in the new technologies, such as Zoom, “because they are here to stay,” and making sure his staff does their research to function properly in the modern business environment.
His company has launched an expert network to share expertise with customers and deliver value, with information provided in the automotive, energy and renewable energy fields, among others. He is making IHS Markit’s experts more available to clients and potential clients, so there is a personal connection and reliability similar to face-to-face relationships. To keep information rolling and businesses running, the company has produced webinars that deliver value, with close to 800 attendees.
As the world starts to go back to its normal functions slowly, Maldonado plans to staff his office at a lower density with rotating days to keep social distancing implemented.
While these times have not been easy on anyone, he sees the current circumstances as an opportunity to learn new skills, and he sees light at the end of the tunnel.
Maldonado advised those in the work at home environment. “The goal-setting, while at home, is what you need to do to get your job done.”
He also offered encouraging words on bouncing back after failure. “If you did not succeed at one sales job, it does not mean you will not succeed in the next,” he said. “Take into consideration what you are selling and who you are selling to, and pivot towards your strengths.”
Thoughts from the Q&A session:
Q: Do you think that the salespeople who use technology will have a leg up on the people who chose not to use the electronic version?
A: I do not think you will be successful if you do not use the technology because you can reach more people. I do a lot of work in restaurants, and I need to be in front of people building long term relationships. But there needs to be a mix. If you don’t use technology, you might be successful, but you will not be as successful as someone who does.
Q: How do you deal with the clients that are of the older generation and do not use technology that well?
A: If you are selling and you have a large population of people that do not use [technology], you may want to think about what you are selling and what you are doing. If you are selling into a market where people are not comfortable using the internet, tell them, “Hey, you mind if I stop by? I’ll show you how to use it.” That value that you delivered; they’ll never forget.
Q: Any insights on what to offer the audience while we are going through the pandemic?
A: Be safe. This is very serious. Use the time wisely to reconnect with people. Figure out what you need to do to make yourself better, either with work or with school. Do something to improve yourself.