As a Manager of Sales Development at LinkedIn, Matt Flamman has amassed a tremendous amount of experience helping companies manage the rapid new realities of selling remotely. We asked him to answer a few questions about how sales leaders across industries are surviving — and even thriving — in an age of remote selling.
The Realities of Remote Selling
As we have seen in the past few months, various organizations have different comfort levels with remote work. For Matt, the value in equipping more traditional organizations with tools like LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator connects with a fundamental need in the sales playbook: getting a full picture of your target customer’s needs, motivations and pain points.
“Your buyers are more online,” Matt says, speaking to the rapid shift that all companies have recently made. “So you should be online, educating yourself on what your buyers are posting, what they are concerned about and how you can answer those questions.”
For sellers more accustomed to seeing their accounts in person and developing a rapport that way, online relationship building can seem daunting. In Matt’s view, this task doesn’t need to be intimidating or onerous, even for more traditional sellers. It simply requires a shift in mindset.
Optimizing LinkedIn for Sales Relationships
Matt counsels sellers to use LinkedIn for both intelligence-gathering about customers and also to build a profile of themselves as trusted and authentic resources that can be turned to for advice that connects to a customer’s core needs.
Acknowledging a sometime painful reality of life in the COVID era, Matt says that “customers can be choosier about who they buy from. It’s worth it to spend more time on demonstrating your expertise, being authentic and being a part of the conversation online.”
In regards to using LinkedIn as a general sales development tool, Matt advises:
- Don’t worry about needing a lot of likes or having to be an “influencer”
- Do post thoughtfully chosen articles that are tailored to your target customer
- Do post frequently (daily if possible)
Understanding the Role of COVID on the Business Environment
Another area where Matt sees major change in the sales profession is how important it has become to be able to navigate the changes wrought by the pandemic on individual companies and whole industries. Some industries, like e-commerce, are in a tailwind, while others, like hospitality, are in a headwind. It’s therefore vital that you gather as much information as possible about how the pandemic is affecting your target customer and how you can provide solutions.
Key Attributes of Sales Leaders in the Post Pandemic World
Matt often hires for various sales positions, and he shared that the skills that help sales leaders stand out in pre-pandemic times have only become more important today.
He shared that he likes to see candidates who can:
- Demonstrate their organizational acumen, including by having a thought-through framework or process for sales scenarios that are thrown at them during an interview.
- Use the product or tech stack they are selling to advance their goals and demonstrate another layer of authenticity to the customer.
- Possess a lot of energy and hustle, not only because sales demands that but also because post pandemic life will be full of changes.
The Role of Coaching
Matt also highlighted the role of coaching and sales education for those he works with, reinforcing the idea that being successful in a position is about a number of intangibles such as mission alignment and values.
“We want to make sure the folks we work with have dedicated coaching sessions toward learning development,” he said. “It’s important to know how they envision their futures so they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”