It goes without saying that COVID-19 has changed the way our world operates. Rather than commuting to offices through public transit or navigating rush hour traffic, a majority of people now take a handful of steps to their home office. The transition to remote work and heavier focus on digital communication has presented a handful of unique challenges to prospecting and making connections. The lack of in-office presence, events, and other face-to-face meetings has forced sales reps to find new, creative ways to connect with prospects. As the calendar turns, now is the perfect time to evaluate how prospecting has evolved and how it will continue to change throughout 2021.
When remote work initially began, prospecting was thrown for a loop. Schedules became hectic and ever-changing, office phone transfers disappeared, and company budgets shifted. In a profession that relies on talking to and connecting with others, working solely through digital communication forced sales reps to quickly adapt to the new environment. A greater emphasis was put on emails rather than cold calling, and consistently maintaining a flexible schedule became the new routine. While adjusting to new routines, a different prospecting approach began to show positive results.
LinkedIn became an effective approach for reaching out to prospects. The ability to make both personal and professional connections through the social media platform turned prospecting during a pandemic into a more manageable job. Exchanging messages across a social media platform provides a more personal feel than sending a faceless email. While LinkedIn doesn’t perfectly replace a face-to-face meeting, it somewhat maintains the personal aspect that seemed to be lost during the pandemic. Even as some normalcy begins to return, LinkedIn appears to be a permanent tool for prospecting moving forward.
In comparison, LinkedIn connections have been a vital tool for recruiters for years. An individual’s LinkedIn page provides all the information necessary for recruiters to find ideal candidates for open positions. From educational background to previous work experience, a LinkedIn page has become an easily accessible resume. Sales reps can use this information in similar ways, as a LinkedIn profile can confirm someone’s employment, job title, and job description, which are all key to making sure you are contacting the correct individual.
In the past however, that was often where the use of LinkedIn stopped. Recruiters have used both a persons' LinkedIn page and the messaging function to make quick, effective connections to gauge interest for job openings. This process is now being mirrored by sales reps to connect with their prospects. Instead of looking to fill a position, sales reps look to make connections, learn about a company and find the best person to speak with regarding their organization’s needs. While LinkedIn may not necessarily be used to make and close deals, it is a great building block for the sales process to regain the personal touch that’s been lost in the remote world.
Looking forward, remote work will continue for many early on, but it’s anyone’s guess when, or if, work environments will look similar to what we once came to expect. The profession of prospecting has evolved drastically over the past nine months and will continue to do so moving forward. The digital communication tools and perseverance that sales reps have gained this year will lead to better performance in the future, and allow their minds to constantly look for new, creative ways to make connections with prospects. I encourage all of you who are looking for new ways to prospect to utilize LinkedIn. And while you’re there, make sure to connect with Life Happens and myself!