Since the beginning of the health crisis and its constraints, the increased use of digital tools has been imposed within families, private circles and companies.
After a quick look at the evolution of the general public's behaviour in relation to digital tools, we will see what attitudes and good practices should be adopted in the face of the commercial upheavals that companies have experienced and which call into question the usual prospecting techniques.
The new situation that was looming for companies in 2020 and which has become inevitable in 2021, justifies taking an interest in the new prospecting tools and innovative reflexes adapted to the commercial reality of the moment.
The Covid crisis and its impacts
At the beginning of 2020, the health crisis linked to the COVID-19 epidemic led to the transformation of everyone's habits and forced the acceleration of the activation of digital tools.
Schoolchildren 2.0, employees trying their hand at teleworking, field workers looking for solutions to compensate for the lack of presence, are all involved in the creation of a new social model. This model has been created by the Covid waves, confinements, curfews, closures of non-essential establishments, cancellations of physical events, trade fairs or the putting on hold of cultural life.
Forced adoption of digital tools
Before Covid, the company had already turned to digital services.
They have become part of the daily life of Europeans. Europeans are increasingly ordering online. Amazon, Deliveroo, Airbnb and Uber are their references.
It is obvious that the crisis and distancing has accelerated the daily use of digital tools.
The adaptation of the official French AntiCovid application is a good example of observing the evolution of behaviour.
Downloading the official government-powered application was never mandatory. Its launch was a failure due to the low number of downloads and the retention rate of the application.
The non-optimal user experience and the collaborative effect did not work in its favour.
On the other hand, it was the generalisation of the compulsory health pass that forced its adoption and affected a population that was not yet accustomed to the use of digital technology, smartphones, applications and QR codes. The health crisis has therefore encouraged the acceleration of digital practices in all social categories and fields of activity.
Acceleration also in the business world
The generalisation of telework has necessitated the forced adoption by professionals of digital tools, digital assistants in all areas of business activity.
The crisis has acted as a real accelerator in the adoption of a professional digital offer.
Companies have turned massively to remote payment applications and paperless business management solutions during successive confinements.
We are unlikely to revert to old habits and the need to counteract old reflexes infuses all sectors of professional activity.
Business owners have realised the benefits of digitalised management solutions.
They have developed a taste for immediacy, for example. They like to receive a quick, clear and personalised answer to their questions.
This reassures them in a rapidly changing economic context. The market is therefore ready for something new.
2022: the right reflexes in commercial prospecting
Change commercial habits, review prospecting methods.
The market is ready to experience the new. At the same time, what choice does it have when face-to-face meetings are becoming rare and participation in trade shows is impossible?
Salespeople are losing the advantage of the field and physical contact!
But putting physical contact with prospects on hold does not mean the end of human contact.
If it becomes more frequently virtual, then it must become more efficient and personalised.
It is therefore important that those involved in commercial prospecting, for which human contact remains a determining factor, redefine their actions in order to maintain links with their clients and prospects, or even strengthen them. This involves the use of bypass or definitive replacement solutions.
From the detection of business opportunities, through the exploration phase, prospect contact and negotiation, to the signing of the deal, the entire process must be reviewed.
Innovative online tools for better acquisition
The majority of business relationships are built on the ground... now digital.
Whether it is an email, an exchange on social networks, an online advertisement or a Google search, the web is now the medium for 80% of B2B acquisition processes.
The use of digital tools compensates for the lack of human contact with a personalised, remote relationship.
In other words, less all-out prospecting, more quality in customer relations and more productivity.
Without putting an end to the traditional sales rounds for which human contact remains essential in the conclusion of sales contracts and in the effective management of customer relations, the use of professional online tools should effectively compensate for the loss of physical contact by offering hyper-personalised experiences.
Pursuing your efforts on professional social networks such as Linked-In, taking the time to optimise the customer journey on your websites, and analysing your marketing campaigns in depth will allow you to mobilise your sales staff and their time on the accounts identified as the most strategic.
Above all, the existence of a high-performance CRM will give you a decisive competitive advantage.
The importance of CRM and data sourcing
In this context of accelerated digitalisation of companies, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) has also undergone a transformation over the last few years and is taking on an increasingly strategic role in an IT world where the platform, an extended service solution, is replacing the old ecosystems made up of scattered software bricks that are difficult to interconnect.
CRM must be placed at the heart of the company and be shared by all the company's players. Not only sales people, but also marketing teams and technical developers, thus enabling the generation and proper use of quality data.
It is by including all of the company's profiles that CRM will be able to respond to the decisive challenges of transformation and increasing sales contacts thanks to the increasingly advanced personalisation of the customer journey.
The CRM, a living and evolving organ
The CRM becomes a centralised system capable of meeting a multitude of needs.
This is thanks to its ability to aggregate modules developed by partners and meeting specific needs not managed or developed natively by CRMs.
They offer libraries of applications and Api connections to various webservices for marketing automation, automatic event planning, online management of appointments, shared diaries, customer support. The list is long and evolves every day.
How to facilitate contact?
In this list, the action of making contacts at all levels of the conversion tunnel, from acquisition and prospecting, to retention and loyalty, becomes even more important. Once a qualified contact has been detected, making an appointment is an essential moment, but thinking about the best way to make and validate it is often neglected in the sales process.
The decisive appointment in your prospect relationship
Online appointment booking allows you to start or develop your customer relationship management, by building or enriching your customer database: contact details, booking history, orders or services...
The tangible face-to-face meeting stage, as we have seen, is mostly replaced by video meetings. Its use has been massive and solutions such as Zoom have taken advantage of this wave to overtake the traditional incumbent players such as Skype.
Although Zoom, Teams and other solutions have become effective as they have been updated, upstream planning of appointments or diary management is not their strentgh.
However, from the point of view of saving salespeople time and optimising their prospecting, it remains very important.
What are the advantages of an online appointment booking solution?
If your business requires regular appointments from or with your clients, if you spend a lot of time on the phone, managing bookings and updating your diary, then you may want to look at alternative online solutions.
Calendar management can quickly become a real hustle.
Using the telephone is time-consuming, as is managing reservations and updating diaries. Online solutions are therefore interesting. It is a simple and efficient way to save time, customers and money.
The advantages are obvious
- Avoid the use of the telephone and its disadvantages: the caller is not available and does not listen to the messages
- Stop the endless exchange of emails
- Give immediate visibility on availability. You let your customers manage their appointments in the slots you have set up. You provoke the acquisition of new customers. Availability, just like customer reviews, is a decisive argument. You put all your chances on your side to acquire new customers.
- Let the customer choose the best time to book: online appointment booking platforms are available 24 hours a day.
- Better distribute the arrival of customers by optimising the reception
- Cancelling or rescheduling an appointment has never been easier
- Clients or prospects receive notificationsby SMS or email, and appointment confirmations that drastically reduce the risk of forgetting
There is a lot of software that facilitates online appointment booking. Democratized by Doodle, these solutions bring a real progress. They allow customers to see availability and make appointments online in a few clicks, on a website. Players such as Calendly, Simply Book Me or Lodago play their card and each have their specificities.
Some offer subscriptions to get your own professional booking website or if you already have a site to integrate a widget. Others offer subscription-free pricing. You pay per appointment made.
Finally, free solutions exist within the limit of a certain number of appointments taken per month.
The Lodago solution is distinguished by the fact that it eliminates the need to consult a website. Indeed, thanks to the AMP email technology, the whole process of appointment and calendar management takes place within your favourite email. No more redirection to a website, the appointment is managed within a single prospect email.
Tomorrow, artificial intelligence
The years 2020-2021 have seen digital practices take over the habits of the world before.
It is unlikely that the return to normality will also correspond to a return to the old methods. Through experimentation, the players in the professional world have realised the undeniable advantages of using digital tools: saving time, better knowledge of contacts, greater efficiency in prospecting.
And this is just the beginning; the acceleration will be exponential. Artificial intelligence is likely to mature in 2022 and revolutionise the online prospecting market even further.