In our continuing Sauga 960 radio interview series, we tackle sales strategy and tactics as life gets back to (somewhat) normal!

Your Business, presented by David Wojcik, understands business. As the CEO/President of the Mississauga Board of Trade, he focuses on current commercial issues and how they affect entrepreneurs and key executives. 

Listen here:

David Wojcik: Managing a sales team is no easy task. There are tons of conflicting information out there and what you do can make or break your sales rep success. What are the right moves as we emerge from a pandemic and get back to something that looks normal? To help us with the conversation is sales guru Linda Kern. Linda is the President of the Kern Group providing sales growth processes and unique tools for driving sales results. Welcome, Linda.

Linda Kern: Thanks David.

David Wojcik, Sauga 360

David Wojcik: Linda, first off I want to talk about this customer journey. We hear about the customer journey and it’s so important to the sales process. Explain to us what you mean by the customer journey.

Linda Kern: Yeah. One of the most important things you can do as a way to reexamine how you’re doing things in terms of sales, business development, whatever you call it, is to really look at the sales process or how you deal with your customers and prospects from the customer’s perspective. Because it’s really easy for us in a vacuum to develop what we want to do, what we think we should do, what we need to do, when really what we need to examine is, how does a customer or prospect go through their process, buyer process customer journey, in dealing with us. Both from the perspective of when we first reach out as sales people and try to engage with them, but also from the perspective of onboarding them into our solution.

David Wojcik: Now, as we come out of the pandemic, we’ve been in it for 18 months. We’ve been doing Zoom meetings till they’re coming out the ying yang here and now we’re going to move back into what I would imagine some kind of hybrid between Zoom sales calls and in-person sales calls. I know there’s a lot of sales people, because we’re people people and we like to get face-to-face with prospects. So is this the right time to do what we would term an audit? And I know audit is an accounting term. As sales people an audit, they don’t seem to gel on that one, but in sales management audits are essential. Is this the right time to do an audit on our sales process?

Linda Kern: Yeah, I feel like there’s never a better time right now given that there’s been so much change in sales in the last year and a bit. From no face-to-face calls to some face-to-face calls, then no face-to-face calls again. Now we seem to be coming out of the pandemic again and who knows what the future holds. I think it’s really important to take a look at once you’ve mapped out the customer journey or even the prospect’s buying process, also take a look at your own process. Like how do your sales teams or you as a salesperson actually go through those steps of your sales process? Actually take a look at what you do, take a look at what you should be doing. It’s a really great activity to do with your team to take a look at what are all the steps everybody’s doing? What are we missing? When you do it as a sales team, you actually have all of the good things from all of the people coming together in one.

David Wojcik: Linda, over the course of the last 18 months, some teams and our processes, we’ve changed our processes. We’ve massaged them. We’ve relaxed certain protocols over the last 18 months. I can’t help but think there has been some good that’s come out of this. One of them is certainly the development of technology. I mean, companies have had to move forward 10 years in their technology in a matter of months. What do you see as some of the positive changes that have come out of the pandemic when we put on that sales lens?

Linda Kern: Yeah. I’d say the most positive impact to sales people is right now there’s not a lot of traveling from client to client. All of that travel time is being saved. I mean, we love seeing our clients. We love being with people. We are people people. You’re right. It’s just we’re not allowed to do that right now. Therefore we can actually have more meetings in a day than we could before. Whereas you might be able to do maybe two sales calls in a morning and two in the afternoon and sometimes that might only be one. You could actually have three in the morning and three in the afternoon.

But one thing I do observe sales people doing right now is the back-to-back meeting and they shouldn’t be doing that because it’s making them late for the next meeting. One thing I’d caution sales people is to not jam your calendar too full. You want to at least give yourself a half an hour to grab a coffee, go to the bathroom, just make some notes from the last call, do a couple of things from the last call. Still don’t jam it too much, but you don’t have to allow an hour for commuting in between calls. I find personally that I’m way more productive.

David Wojcik: The other thing that I find valuable for this is when we would go on a sales call, you always confirm before you go. You never leave your office without confirming that the person’s going to be there, the right person’s going to be there, but things happen along the way. Life happens and you get there and something’s happened and the person can’t make the meeting so you’ve wasted that time. I find with Zoom you don’t have that because even if they’re late for the meeting, you can do something else. What are some of the downsides to COVID that we need to course correct as we come out of the pandemic and get back to normal? One of them is we’re going to have to put on big boy pants for meetings now. That’s something people enjoyed, being in their shorts, business on top and party down below. But what do you see as some of the things that we do need to correct?

Linda Kern, The Kern Group Inc.

Linda Kern: Yeah, and you’re referring to coming out of the pandemic, like as they start going back on the road?

David Wojcik: Exactly.

Linda Kern: Yeah. I would go to the calendar perhaps as a first thing and make sure that you’re not booking stuff as closely as you did when you were making all your calls via Zoom or Teams. I’d say the other thing is don’t forget, because I saw this on Zoom and Teams, to go back to and do it on Teams as well as Zoom. But to do that little bit of relationship building at the beginning of the meeting, just that little bit of chit chat. Sometimes I even forget to teach it to teams when I’m working with a new team, which I am right now. I forget to even teach it to them. I just get right down to business.

Linda Kern: Okay. Here’s how you’re going to start the call. The CEO of the company was with us and he said, “And also what you want to do so and so, is you want to connect the fact that we have a relationship with so and so at their company and so that’ll break the ice.” I was like, oh yeah, right. Don’t forget to bond and build rapport. Because we have been literally boom, boom, boom, going to all these different meetings and we’ve got to go back to that. We are people after all. We do like to have relationships and know each other.

David Wojcik: I think two important points there is first of all, you’re not going to be able to build a great relationship with everybody. You don’t click with everybody. Some people it’s just going to be business and you’re not going to build that bond. The other important thing that I’ve found is building those relationships. It takes time. You’re not going to do it on the first meeting or the second meeting. It might be three, four, five times. It could be six months or a year of working with your client before you know what their spouse’s name is, how many kids do they have and what do they do in their spare time, all kinds of things. Linda, we’ve only got 30 seconds left. What’s your best piece of advice as we come out of the pandemic and get back into the swing of things?.

Linda Kern: Yeah. Definitely prepare for sales calls. I’m a really big proponent of going into every sales call with a plan. Make some notes. Keep your notes with you. It’s perfectly fine to have your notes over to the side whether you’re on a Zoom call or face-to-face, but be organized. What is your sales call objective? How do you want the call to end? What next step are you going to ask for? What questions will you ask in the middle part of the meeting? Be prepared, be organized, don’t wing it even if you’ve been doing it for 25 years.

David Wojcik: Excellent advice. Have an agenda and know what the end game is out of the sales call. We’ve been in conversation with Linda Kern. Linda’s the President of the Kern Group and a sales guru with us today. Linda, thanks for being with us.

Linda Kern: You’re welcome, David. It was fun as always.


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