By David Freedman, Director of Sales, Huthwaite International
You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times. The digital age has transformed the sales arena. And, whilst many are looking to technology and new sales approaches to adapt their business, a continued focus on quality customer service and added value is at risk of being overlooked.
The digital age has arrived in tandem with globalisation. This has in turn seen companies focus on cost reductions, such as outsourcing services and manufacturing oversees. However, there is a perception that this has led to a loss in quality and value for customers.
This is a key consideration for small businesses. Whilst many feel the digital age must be accommodated by adopting a digital sales approach – there is also a growing need for a more focused and human approach to selling.
The rise in demand for organic produce, ethical business practices and locally sourced product is no coincidence. Society is breaking away from traditional capitalist behaviour and instead looking to feel more human again. Enter the ‘hipster’ movement – people looking to re-connect in an overly digital world.
So, what does all of this mean for sales? Well, as you may have already concluded, a rise in digital products and services, shouldn’t mean the fall of quality customer service – and that includes sales. The savvy consumer now requires more than just a cost-effective product or service, they want a cost-effective solution.
Buyers – whether consumer or corporate – want to feel important and like they matter. As if they are an individual. The rise in globalisation and digital connectivity has resulted in the consumer needing to feel as if they count. They want the bespoke approach.
We see this time and time again in contemporary marketing. Consider the success of the personalised Coca-Cola bottle, or the multi-million-pound budget channelled into bespoke digital marketing. If it isn’t bespoke, it isn’t of interest.
By now I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘great – I’ll just change my entire offering then, that’s not going to work’. Thankfully the answer is a little less revolutionary than that. Whilst your product or service may not be bespoke, your approach to selling it can be.
The real priority for small businesses is to position their products or services as being able to offer a solution. Where historically you may have quickly jumped to tell your prospective buyer the benefits of what you have to offer. It is more important now than ever, that you adopt a more considered approach.
Before jumping into your sales pitch, get to know your customer’s needs. What are the issues they are facing, what is it they want from your product or services? This information is vital – whether you’re making a multi-billion-pound deal or selling a chocolate bar. If you don’t understand the needs of your customer, simply put, you don’t know what you’re selling.
Let’s take the chocolate bar as an example. Is your customer buying it as a treat? Are they buying it for a quick fix of energy? Are they buying it out of habit and feel guilty about the purchase? Ascertain the answer and you can adapt your sales approach accordingly. It’s the same chocolate bar you’ve sold a million times over, but you’re selling it to an individual – change your sales approach to accommodate their needs.
In a world that’s constantly changing and adapting to accommodate new technology, customers are becoming tiresome with feeling like a number. Provide your clients with added value and a bespoke sales approach and your service will stand out from the crowd. It’s time to focus on the benefits of your product and make it relevant to your buyer.
If you want to hear more about how Huthwaite International can help your sales team increase business revenue, contact [email protected]
China’s factory activity growth likely moderated during February holiday lull – Reuters poll
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s factory activity likely grew at a slightly slower rate in February as factories closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, a Reuters poll showed, although growth is expected to remain firm, buoyed by an early resumption of production.
The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) is expected to dip marginally to 51.1 in February from 51.3 in January, according to the median forecast of 20 economists polled by Reuters. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in activity on a monthly basis.
Chinese factories typically scale back operations or close for lengthy periods around the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in the middle of February this year.
However, the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the winter had prompted local governments and companies to dissuade workers from travelling back to their hometowns, giving a boost to the earlier-than-usual resumption of production at many factories, analysts say.
“Although government COVID-19 prevention measures may constrain some manufacturing activities in the near-term, the fact that a majority of migrant workers stayed in their workplace cities for the holiday should facilitate an earlier resumption of business activity following the holiday this year,” said analysts at Nomura in a note to client on Thursday.
Wang Zhishen, a migrant worker from Gansu, told Reuters that his factory, a manufacturer of logistics boxes in the manufacturing hub of Dongguan, only closed for three days during the holiday, thanks to overwhelming businesses. Lured by the 1,500-yuan cash subsidy his factory offered, he chose to work through the holiday.
The Chinese economy has largely shaken off the gloom from the COVID-19 health crisis, with consumers opening up their wallets after months of hesitation. Growth is now set to rebound sharply this quarter, also helped by the low base effect of a year ago.
The country has successfully curbed the domestic transmission of the COVID-19 virus in northern China, with the national health authority reporting zero new local cases for the 11th straight day. Cities that were on lockdown have since vowed to push for a work resumption at full speed.
The official PMI, which largely focuses on big and state-owned firms, and its sister survey on the services sector, will both be released on Sunday.
The private Caixin manufacturing PMI will be published on Monday. Analysts expect the headline reading will dip slightly to 51.4 from 51.5 in January.
(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Sam Holmes)
Shell in Germany seeks to speed up drive to go green
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell in Germany aims to produce aviation fuel and naphtha made from crops and to increase to commercial scale an electrolysis plant that makes fossil-free hydrogen, as it seek to move away from crude oil.
The energy major told an online conference on Friday it had applied for subsidies to carry out the work from the European Union and from German funds earmarked for decarbonisation. It did not give detail on the expected cost.
The global Shell group has set itself a goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
At Wesseling, part of the Rheinland refinery complex, it plans to use green electricity to produce synthetic, carbon-free, power-to-liquids (ptl) to replace its conventional jet fuel and naphtha output, building a ptl plant from 2023 and starting production in 2025.
The ptl plant can also use wood as biomass input.
Hydrogen is also considered a green fuel when electricity from renewable energy is used in its production.
Shell said last September it will set up offshore wind farms to provide power and on Friday it said it could also start building a 100 MW electrolysis plant, to be called Refhyne II, from 2022, scaling up from a 10 megawatt plant.
“The product portfolio of the location clearly must change,” said Fabian Ziegler, head of Shell Deutschland.
To further the shift to clean transport in Germany, Shell also plans to equip petrol filling stations with electric car charging points.
Shell is already the owner of German solar battery maker sonnen. On Thursday, it said it has agreed to buy Cologne-based virtual power plant (VPP) operator Next Kraftwerke, Germany’s biggest VPP.
Next aggregates wind and biogas power production and markets it in balancing markets, which can help offset the unpredictable flows associated with renewable output.
(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Barbara Lewis)
Why digital must be at the top of a retailer’s strategy
By Chris Burnside, Account Manager, Specialty Retail, UK & Nordics Global Sales & Verticals, Worldline
COVID-19 is constantly shifting consumer shopping habits from on-site to online, meaning that eCommerce is becoming the main driver of physical retailers’ strategies. Changes in demographics, innovations in payments, and evolving customer needs, as well as the current social isolation that the nation is dealing with are all shaping the retail sector of today.
Online shopping, price-comparison search engines, online coupons and cashback deals have created a new breed of consumers. These shoppers are smart, tech-savvy, hungry for deals and conduct their own research before making purchases. However, these connected customers tend to be bigger shoppers and might potentially become lifelong advocates (including via social media) to bring in more following for a specific brand.
Therefore, retailers must be well prepared to survive in these lucrative, yet challenging times as online purchases surge and consumers demand a way of paying for goods online.
Changing customer expectations
Today’s customers are becoming increasingly more omnichannel in the way they shop and expect to be dazzled by interactivity and connected services, while retaining the simplicity and seamlessness of payments. These shoppers also expect on-site shopping to allow them to mix online and in-store purchases, pick-up of purchased goods, and transparent refund and return policies.
Some retailers might ask what the benefits are of bringing in such demanding customers. However, these types of shoppers can increase a retailer’s profits substantially as they have been proven to deliver a higher value purchase track record compared to regular or smaller ticket item shoppers.
If any physical retailers are in doubt, they should simply consider the benefits that go along with becoming connected and offering their goods online. Firstly, online shopping offers a greater variety of ways to target individuals’ needs, from targeted ads and special occasions coupons to personalised gifts for shoppers that drives sales and generates new and returning customers.
The surging power of online
The other massive benefit is the ability to offer more online. Online is increasingly what more and more customers today are looking for. As more purchases are made online, brands must be mindful that physical retail space is getting increasingly more expensive, especially in top locations. Therefore, with an eCommerce model, businesses can choose a central warehouse located outside the city.
Another vital perk of going digital is the potential to establish direct engagement with your audience via social media. According to research by Facebook, more than 80% of people use Instagram to research their potential purchases and discover new trends and products.
When entering the world of eCommerce there are several challenges that retailers must plan for. These include, online fraud, a lack of local payment methods, no direct support for clients in case of issues or questions, lower authorisation rates and potential IT issues. However, a reliable partner can help mitigate these risks and help retailers to effectively design the registration flow and the checkout experience to retain paying customers and limit fraudsters’ activities.
Such providers have in-store solutions that provide a unified and safe payment flow that immerses and connects the buyer and the seller in this financial journey. It constitutes a set of comprehensive hardware and software-based solutions to open up retailers to more customers and boost their sales and conversion levels. Bridging the gap between online and physical stores by introducing digital kiosks, touch screens and VR experiences to POS transform the shops of today into the shops of the future.
The value of strong acquiring capabilities
Alongside omnichannel, it cannot be underestimated the importance of also offering effective, fast, and reliable acquiring services that are tailored to retailers needs based on regions and their risk appetite. It means the capacity to implement smart routing and switching to effectively optimise authorisation levels.
When offering their products globally, retailers must also consider the importance of having a well-thought out set of local payment methods. This is because one of the major differences between physical retail and online shopping is that once in the shop, customers are likely to pay for the products they really want whether by card or cash. Online sales, especially on local markets can be more complex. This is because they will typically choose a specific local payment method that they are accustomed to, such as BLIK in Poland, Sofort in Germany or iDEAL in the Netherlands. By not offering these, it can be a deal-breaker causing people to drop sales and search for stores that have these options at checkout.
The right acquiring capabilities, by having a global presence and massive knowledge base, can offer pre-implementation support to retail owners and guide them through the implementation process itself. Therefore, with a massive infrastructure and immense experience in the payments industry behind them, the right providers have the capacity to serve customers around the world and provide a seamless payment experience of the future, right here and right now.
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