Digital sales is the new normal

Digital sales is the new normal

The year 2020 changed the way we work. Sales did not escape change either, and face-to-face customer meetings were replaced by digital and remote sales. It is very likely that some of the changes will remain permanent. This in turn means that salespeople need to develop their own skills as required by the new normal in sales.

One likely development is the proliferation of hybrid sales models. Sales meetings that focus purely on informing the customer will continue to be based on online meetings. At the same time, customers expect even more value added and expertise from salespeople to develop the customer’s business. Salespeople need to be able to act as coaches, to facilitate workshops and to build customer value together with the customer. The importance of new interaction skills as part of a salesperson’s job description rises to a new level.

Competitive advantage from understanding the customer and the market

The new normal in sales requires even better preparation for appointments. One good way to support this is to introduce tools for accumulating and refining customer and market understanding. One such tool is the Insight Architecture model, which enables the salesperson to systematize the processing of information about customers, markets and competitors, for instance to build distinctive sales messages. The model also helps to better understand the customer’s business and provides a good foundation for building meaningful appointments. This skill is expected even more from the salespeople in the future – regardless of whether the meeting is arranged online or face-to-face.

The importance of internet is emphasized

The year 2020 significantly accelerated the digital transition in sales. In sales the digital shift can be seen in two different ways. First, companies and organizations must now, at the latest, invest in their own digital channels. Customers are searching for more and more information independently online, and this automates some of the steps in the sales process. Businesses need to be able to produce relevant and engaging content for the customers. This supports the customer’s buying process and accelerates sales.

Second, the digital shift affects the salespeople’s work such that they must be able to influence customers’ purchasing decisions and choices also on digital channels. Social selling capabilities, for instance in terms of influencing their own network, are emphasized. In addition, salespeople need to be able to better master digital facilitation and consultative sales skills. Naturally, the salesperson’s own digital profile must also be in order and support company-level sales and marketing messages.

The basics in sales are the same as before

Despite the change in sales and the growing role of the internet, the basics of sales are still the same as before. The salesperson’s key professional skills include building trust with the customer. This is best done by preparing well for sales appointments, listening and understanding the customer, being proactive, and showing your own personality to win the customer’s trust.

Check out this brief nano-training, and you will get more practical tips for your sales work.

 

Co-creating the joint vision for Finnish music education

Co-creating the joint vision for Finnish music education

Case Study

Co-creating the joint vision
for Finnish music education

Vision 2030 for Finnish Music Education

Finnish music education is an internationally recognised success story. It fosters musical diversity and individual learning paths at different stages of life. Education not only ensures a lifelong hobby, but it also provides the opportunity to develop into a top musical professional.

 Challenge

How might we ensure that goal-oriented and high-quality music study and hobby is possible everywhere in Finland also in the future?

Over the last decades, the music education system has experienced various structural changes and budget cuts. As a result of this, the decision-making and resource allocation in the field have lacked solid centralised coordination. At the same time, people have an increasingly better understanding of the role of music in the wellbeing of individuals and communities, and new expectations and opportunities have emerged for music education to make an even greater impact in the society.

 Solution

Co-creating a shared vision for the field together with the key stakeholders

In order for the Finnnish music education system to maintain its unique qualities also in the future, the goal was to establish a joint vision and an overall understanding of shared goals. The aim was to implement the vision process as an extensive network collaboration that brings together all levels of education and actors in the field.

Together with the steering group, Intolead designed a series of seminars and workshops and facilitated the co-creation process. The vision work involved nearly 1,500 people, who represented professionals and students as well as the most important stakeholder groups in music education. The process included three seminars, three webinars and an online survey. Based on the co-creation workshops, survey and research material, the steering group of the project compiled a shared vision for the field towards 2030. The vision work was facilitated and sparred throughout the 18-month journey by Intolead.

 Results

Vision, goals and actions that everyone can stand behind

The vision takes a stand on the shared value base and accessibility of music education as well as its practices in teaching and leadership. It also outlines the framework for the cooperation, structural development, and more efficient use of resources in the field. The changes that need to be made have been summed up in 25 action proposals. Learn more about the vision here.

As a result of the process the Finnish music education now has for the first time a common direction for its future. The field has now a shared set goals that everyone can stand behind and contribute to. This makes the vision and the whole process ground-breaking not only in Finland but also internationally.

Petri Home from Intolead brought significant added value to the planning and implementation of the vision work. Petri’s knowledge of co-creation and foresight methods, facilitation expertise and experience in strategy development brought structure, rhythm and discipline to the entire process, and greatly helped the steering group with the successful execution of the whole process.

Jouni Auramo,
Chair of the Vision 2030 Steering Group, Principal of the Pirkanmaa Music Institute and Chair of the Association of Finnish Music Schools

Engage your employees with online training

Engage your employees with online training

Previously acquired expertise has an expiry date, and for many of us it is already behind us. The life cycle of competence is shortening in the transition of work, and investing in employee training is becoming increasingly essential for the success of companies. By taking your training online, you can free up resources, increase job satisfaction, and engage your employees.

It is in the self-interest of companies to ensure that the competence and tasks of employees match each other in terms of both knowledge and skills. Therefore, more attention must also be paid to competence management. It will help companies to remain competitive also in the future. Investing in competence development is a strategic choice for an organization, so building a culture of continuous learning begins with the leadership. Is your company committed to it?

 

Free up resources for better use

Organizing face-to-face training requires time, money, premises, and equipment. Online training is not only cost-effective, but also environmentally friendly, due to reduced travel associated with training events. From the business perspective, the best thing about online training, in addition to learning new skills, is that the time saved can be used for productive work.

The scale of investment required for e-learning varies. You can get started, for example, by acquiring a single course or learning module from an external partner, providing information on a given topic. At the other end of the scale it can mean investing in your own learning environment that actively supports employee competence development. Of course, there are also cost-effective, cloud-based solutions for this.

 

You can only win by training your company’s employees

According to research*, companies with a committed workforce are up to 20% more profitable than others. In keynote speeches, almost every manager agrees that staff engagement is critical to the business. Yet, in practice actions are often limited. Commitment to the organization can be facilitated by having challenging work tasks, internal and external training, coaching and mentoring, as well as the benefits derived from them.

With training, it is possible to promote job satisfaction and flexibility in work tasks. As learning develops work and benefits the work community, it pays off to value the employees and provide them with time to study during working hours.

 

A committed employee is your company’s most important asset because he or she will
  • follow the company’s strategy
  • trust the management
  • want to develop the company’s operations
  • improve the company’s turnover
  • increase customer satisfaction
  • find their own work meaningful
  • feel motivated and want to achieve the goals set
  • provide better quality work and be more productive
  • give positive impression of the organization, and strengthen the employer image

We at Intolead are experts in digital learning and can help you in building effective training solutions that support your company’s competence development needs. Our engaging and user-centric contents are always pedagogically high-quality and visually inspiring. If you have something to ask about e-learning, please contact us. Together, we can create a training solution that best serves your needs. Check out also our digital learning services.

*Source: Forbes (2018): Four Lessons From Companies That Get Employee Engagement Right

Developing sales skills to match future needs

Developing sales skills to match future needs

Case Study

Developing sales skills to match future needs

Innofactor Case Study

Innofactor is the leading promoter of modern digital organization in the Nordic countries. Innofactor helps its customers digitize their business, promotes a social way of working, and develops business processes through secure cloud services.

 Challenge

How to assess and develop team-level future skills needs in a sales team?

Innofactor seeks to develop sales competence levels proactively to meet the changing needs of the future. Innofactor has renewed its sales strategy and started to develop its own sales culture to be more market and customer oriented. As part of the sales reformation project, Innofactor wanted to create a clear common vision of the necessary sales skills, which will then be developed. The aim was to find a model that could also be easily updated in the future if necessary.

 Solution

Future Skills service for participatory and systematic competence development

As part of other sales development projects, Innofactor implemented the Future Skills service, conceptualized by Intolead. The implementation began by identifying key competencies for the future through a discussion within the team. Next, the team evaluates the target status and the current level of competencies for the identified competencies. In this way, the concrete themes for competence development were made visible and it was possible to make both team-level and individual-level development plans for competence development. The five-point service was implemented as a workshop facilitated by Intolead.

 Results

Actions are guided by identification of competencies and making development areas visible

With the help of the implemented service, an operating model was created for Innofactor, through which it will be possible also in the future to assess the changing sales competence needs. The competence development model involves the members of the sales team in actively thinking about new competence needs arising from the customer base and the market. In this way, competence development becomes proactive. At the same time, the culture of continuous learning that is needed to build a successful sales team in the future is also strengthened.

“Intolead’s well-conceptualized service provided a good foundation for building a systematic and flexible process and model for competence development. The process will help us build within the team operations that are customer-oriented and the highest available quality on the market also in the future.”

Jarkko Lindroos,
Vice President,
Innofactor

Focusing on values that embrace humanity and sustainability

Focusing on values that embrace humanity and sustainability

Rethinking work

To take care of the well-being of their employees, businesses need to rethink how they structure assigned work. This will depend on the internal workings and culture of the company. Employing technology, AI and automation can allow employees to have shorter workdays, work remotely and thus optimize their efficiency. Technology is changing the way we work, and the traditional approach to work is no longer sufficient to meet everyone involved in the business’ needs. We need new, efficient ways to conduct processes.

 

Authenticity

Gen Z are digital natives, and they are entering the world of work and simultaneously becoming the biggest consumer market. What makes Gen Z different is that they are extremely focused on authenticity, diversity, inclusivity, equality, sustainability, and ethical consumption. To cater to this population, businesses need to make sure that they are producing products that have small to non-existent carbon footprints. Authentic brands and companies embody their values and culture as well as conduct all their actions wholly based on this. They live and stand by their values and make decisions accordingly. Brands and businesses need to be inclusive of, or cater to, people of all ability levels. They have to embrace equality and diversity.

 

Sustainability

Sustainability is a massive trend and can be seen in all industries, from fashion to food to tourism and architecture. Consumers are highly eco-conscious, and they want to know where their products come from. This can be done by using technology in labeling or on the packaging that allows the consumer to see from where their product or produce originated, which path it followed to get to where it was bought, and what was involved in getting it there. The packaging of products should be minimalistic and 100% recyclable or reusable. Consumers are aware of their impact on the environment, and this makes them very focused on the ingredients producers use in their products. Producers need to be conscious and aware of their consumers’ needs and wants. The demand for natural and cruelty-free products is ever-increasing, and some cosmetic companies have even focused on the amount of water used in their manufacturing.

 

Ethics

Never before in human history have consumers had information at their fingertips via the accessibility of the internet as they have now. Scandalous acts that companies try to hide their misconducts can quickly become widely known. Consumers use readily available information, which has made them ultra-aware. Aware of what it takes to make the products they consume and what the impact of their consumption is. Investments have been made in companies that create artificial meat to curb cruelty to animals in the food and beverage industry. Luxury brands are now becoming vegan, ethically catering to the needs of their consumers. Consumers ultimately want companies that not only share their values but live them too.

 

Embracing nature

Companies are becoming aware of nature’s healing and calming qualities. Also, working environments aim to bring nature indoors. You may see treehouse meeting rooms and walkway waterfalls. And not only does this apply in corporate work areas but also retail. A new type of environment advances creativity and innovative thinking. Healthy employees have higher levels of productivity and thus making sure your employees have surroundings to aid in their well-being improves the efficiency of a business.

 

Companies that can embrace the changing standards associated with ways of working and production will be successful in the near future. When the well-being of all is taken seriously, and businesses align themselves with this purpose, they are well on their way to success. Sustainability should be a core value of all companies that hope to be top achievers in their field. Doing good makes a profitable business.

 

Power of stories in business

Power of stories in business

Stories have been told ever since humanity developed a language. As long as there have been campfires, humans have gathered around them and conveyed their view of the world using stories. Stories are memorable and powerfully connect us to our listeners. The use of stories properly conveyed, is actually how we prefer to receive communications.

Telling stories is one of the most powerful means that leaders and organizations have, to influence, teach, and inspire. Stories can be used to sprinkle some magic on businesses, corporate cultures, services, and products. It is advisable to write and tell stories to stand out in the market, engage people, and make an impression. In the business world stories help solidify relationships in a way that factual statements encapsulated in bullet points or numbers don’t.

Storytelling also helps with learning because stories are more engaging than a dry recitation of data points or a discussion of abstract ideas. The subject is easier to adopt if it is linked to one’s work with an identifiable case-example. Good stories can contain multiple meanings so they’re surprisingly economical in conveying complex ideas in graspable ways so that they are easier to understand, remember, and apply. Stories are unforgettable, and things learned through stories are easier to bring back to the active memory from the recesses of your mind. Another storytelling aspect that makes it so effective is that it works for all types of learners.

Every business tells a story. It’s important to make sure your company is telling the right one. A strategy tells a story of why the company exists and what its purpose is. The entire strategy process can be storified, if the business so desires. The visions of the business are based on well-told stories about the company’s development prospects in the next five or ten years. In turn, the mission tells a story of why the company exists. A beautifully written and narrated story is both entertaining and interesting. Strategy stories create a sense of belonging for employees and help to form a common outlook.

What about the brand of the business? It is pure storytelling! Storytelling is a critical component in the building of the brand, as a good story encapsulates and addresses consumers. Each of us remembers a good brand story, right?

The story of the Halloween pumpkin

Have you ever heard the story of the Halloween pumpkin?

A hollowed, grinning pumpkin with a candle shining inside is a symbol of Halloween that is increasingly seen also at the doorways of Finnish homes during All Saint’s Day. Around the world, the pumpkin is called Jack O’ Lantern. The story of the pumpkin lantern is quite a grim one and tells about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack”. Jack tricked the Devil and made a pact with him with the promise that his soul would not end up in hell after his death. As you might guess, Jack’s soul never made it to heaven either. The devil kept his word not to claim his soul, but instead he sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack had taken a turnip as a snack in the afterlife. He put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. To frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits, people began to make their versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors. Over the time the turnip turned into a pumpkin, which symbolizes Jack still trying to find his place and peace for his soul.