Selling in This Digital Economy - Cuppa Press

In talks with Mike Cook

August 20.2020  7 minutes


“Now’s the time to play the role of a consultant rather than that of a salesman"


Meet Mike Cook, the man behind this statement. 


The Director of Research at DT Consulting, Mike is a fantastic speaker and an excellent thinker with expertise in the services market. 


Change is but an understatement to describe 2020. But being a lover of change, Mike decided to meet us (virtually) and share his insights on how to sell in today’s world that has been forced to move away from its age-old methods. 


Check out this episode of Cuppa Press titled ‘Selling in This Digital Economy’ to find out more. 









Key Takeaways


Online’s Big Bang Moment

We're essentially trying to help businesses look five to ten years ahead of the future. And, of course, in the light of this global pandemic, that change is more profound than ever before. So we're working extremely closely with our clients right now and we’re essentially hand-holding with them.


But it also comes down to the fact that us, as an organisation, are growing and taking on these the same growing pains at the same time as our clients. So we've looked at this from a number of different angles. 


I think one of the biggest takeaways we're going to see as we look back on this time in society is that this has been online's Big Bang moment - this has been the push that many companies needed to really take on new digital strategies, and that is multifaceted.


Changes and Coping Mechanisms

So the most obvious is, of course, the new work at home revolution. In the professional services world and across the industry, we've seen a massive push towards home working right now. But then again, you need to have the platforms that enable that. 


So we've seen huge investments in online collaboration tools in which we're using right now Microsoft teams, which I use within my role and numerous others. And we've actually seen these types of platforms which are much more collaborative and easy to use, replace some of the old legacy platforms that we had in the past. So that's the one move to digital that is forced. 


Agility in the Retail Sector 

On the other hand, we've seen other industries, such as specifically retail, even small steps, small scale retail, having to rapidly adjust to an online environment and having to change the whole way they do business. We've even seen petrol stations offer delivery type services for their grocery stores. So there's a sudden push towards an online digital environment.


And I think the agility of so many industries has been amazing to see.


Gyms, for example, have gone to online classes and that almost immediately and we've seen these types of things happen throughout industry. So that is fascinating. 


Selling in Today’s World

The way sales has evolved is interesting. I've been a salesman for many years of my life and I always like to see somebody, talk to them, understand the issues, and then see how we could adapt our services or our products to help overcome those.


That's no longer the case and I think that's okay.


Actually, I think we're going to change the way that we think about business profoundly off the back of this. So we've seen business travel really starting to lose its cool factor. Of course, that's just not an option right now. 


But I think we're going to be sitting back and saying, well, are all these in-person meetings really necessary? Because right now people have become much more comfortable interacting on digital platforms.


Sales is going to be much more collaborative and much more easy to essentially scale through in this online environment. Moving forward, sales people will be able to interact with a much greater number of their clients more personally than ever before. 


Symbiotic Relationship with Clients

In this time of unbridled disruption, a very collaborative hand-holding type approach is really, really beneficial. We've seen this with our clients.


Now they're desperate for solutions and we're desperate to provide those solutions. And I think that type of symbiotic relationship is now proving more useful than ever. And I think that's probably one of the best examples right now. 


We also need to change the way we think about delivering services to our clients in maybe very lower touch environments.


This is going to mean a bigger push for that more passive sales channel to really, really move into a digital customer to lifestyle interactions. We're thinking a move towards augmented reality interactions on e-commerce sites, virtual mall tours through VR headsets, those types of things that are really taking people's digital e-commerce game to the next level.


I think that is really going to be the way that sales is going to adapt and change in this new model post covid world.


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Reallocation of Budgets

Digital adoption is no longer an option or nice to have. It is absolutely essential. And I think we've also seen a redistribution of budgets. So, yes, there is a cost to making the adoption happen and that can be a huge hindrance for especially smaller companies. But there's also going to be a reallocation of budgets.


So previous spend into any type of marketing activity, any type of in-person marketing activity, of course, has been scrapped. Now there is a potential to reallocate budgets, even in slightly smaller companies, to help move them towards that digital e-commerce environment. 


And we know it is a challenge, but there are a number of e-commerce companies out there that implement these strategies for smaller organizations like this.


Personalization and Data Privacy

Personalization is very important today and if you're doing this over the digital realm, we need to make sure that we are never perceived as creepy.

The use of cookies has been questioned for many, many years and one of the big issues off the back of this pandemic is the breakdown of privacy. We've seen a huge move now by governments to implement track and trace technology.


So therefore, I think people are going to be more sensitive than ever about privacy and about data collection and data hacking.


Keeping that in mind, we need to be very careful that whilst personalization is of course hugely important as we come out to our clients. If you’re using big data sources to create that personalization, tread it very carefully would be my advice because people are already quite sensitive about the security and the privacy question.

Changes in Content Consumption

I was looking at some data recently that said web usage is up by 19% at the moment. We're all stuck at home. We're all consuming huge amounts of online material right now. So as an organization, I think we need to think about how we're pushing out content. 


And we need to think about that content really carefully. We need to make sure that it's not only a focus around covid, but it is related to customer issues and essential products. 


So create content that is 

  • Sensitive
  • Relatable
  • Socially Responsible
  • Relevant
  • Entertaining
  • Engaging


Keep your content as pre-COVID compliant as possible, but make sure there's a regular cadence of this and think about maybe using social media channels if it's applicable for your industry. 


Macroeconomic Changes


1. Digital Collaboration

So I would say at your bottom level, I think we, as a society, have now become more digitally sociable, which I think is a great thing that can impact numerous fields for organizations out there. As they look to push product sales and so on. So anything that encourages digital collaboration between family, friends, but also business colleagues would be extremely popular.


2. Business Travel and Meetings

The next is going to be the impact on the way that we view business travel and face to face interactions. I think now we're going to look at this and say, well, is all traveling in doing firstly sociable, socially responsible?


We've seen just how the impact is, to the environment off the back of this pandemic, You know, all of these changes have been incredible. I think air pollution has dropped by 19 or 20% in many of the world's major capitals, which is fantastic. 


We don't consume quite as much as well. So I think our attitudes towards global warming and about unnecessary travel are definitely going to change drastically.


3. Economic Spending

One of the scariest things is the economic prices that we're going to see because of this impact. I'm trained as an economist and I am very, very concerned. People in the travel and hospitality industry right now, are already suffering.


And we need to keep that in mind, certain industries such as essential retail and pharmaceutical are booming as well. But the impacts on huge sections of our society are going to be felt for a number of years. 


So what I'm worried about is the reduced spending in the economies, which will impact numerous parts of the industry. So I think that's what needs to be a top tier consideration for many, many organizations.


I think cost-cutting is going to be a hot topic moving forward. Maybe reductions in physical retail space or office space as well. Then just essentially rebuilding everything. 


Rethinking Sales Strategies

We need to rethink our Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP strategies. Selling in an online environment, as opposed to a face to face environment is going to be very different. So sales folks have to be more aware than ever of their tone towards clients. Understand their unique concerns because of course, if you remove the business facade from any professional, we all go through a very, very strange time.


There are huge amounts of anxiety and added stress that we didn't have before. So I think being aware of that and then adapting your persona and your NLP strategy accordingly is one particularly effective method. 


If you are hard salesmen, I think maybe drop that tactic right now because we need to, we need to be much more collaborative in the way we work with our clients more so than ever before. Of course, it's always hugely important, but right now it's crucial. So be collaborative and look to problem-solve more than you ever have before. 


There is a contrasting declining demand rate for products and services whilst others are in exactly the opposite buckets. So I think having a level of understanding for the industry that you're selling to. So make sure you're doing your reading, make sure you're keeping up to date with local legislation, local laws that are changing due to the lockdown, and the types of best practices. 


Parting Words



" You essentially need to be a consultant more than the salesman with your clients right now"


So don't be naive or don't be ignorant of any of the changes that are happening around you, because your clients are going to need all that type of insight as they look to adapt their businesses to this new changing world that we're dealing with.


Previously on Cuppa Press



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