The pandemic continues to shake up the Financial Technology sector. It has certainly forced thousands of businesses to restructure their sales strategies and budget. Plenty of fintech vendors face a myriad of uncertainties and, while some have managed to stay ahead of the curve, others are finding ways to stay afloat.
There’s also the matter of implementing newer and more flexible home arrangements, utilising effective communication tools, and finding new and innovative ways for sales professionals to engage with their target audience. Does it work? What are the challenges and how do high-performing sales teams solve them?
To explore how fintech companies in the APAC have managed the situation, we have rounded up experts in the field to share their tips and insights on how they have navigated the turbulent waters of the global pandemic.
Below are their key takeaways:
Managing Director ASEAN, ANZ and South Asia
Tip 1: Rethink the way you engage with your clients
In a pre-COVID world, salespeople would take a flight for every occasion to meet with their clients. Engagement needs to continue, but now it is now vital to utilize digital tools and creative thinking to do so effectively. Finastra implemented a state-of-the-art new methodology to run effective client workshops, which has helped us win new business and strengthened existing customer relationships, whilst our marketing teams pivoted quickly from physical events to webinars, attracting thousands of viewers and generating valuable data.
Tip 2: Play to your strengths
The Pareto principle, which states that 80% of outcomes are the result of 20% of efforts, has never been more appropriate. Companies often have a wide portfolio of products and expend effort to sell them all, but in challenging times it might make more sense to identify where you are strongest and focus your efforts where you will find the most success.
Tip 3: Make sure people are part of your core values
Companies become second families, so take clear steps to make sure your teams feel safe, valued and motivated. Let them know that you are there for them and ready to support them, even though you are not physically together, and make sure they have the flexibility to do things like spending time with children.
Managing Director, Financial Service
Tip 1: Take Advantage of the Alternative
The crisis has forced us all from our regular routines, and naturally we’re eager for things to get back to the way they were. But there’s value in this alternative – in fact I’ve encouraged our teams to not rush back to what was normal as the experience is driving innovative thinking and has generated insight into new projects that are furthering the business.
Tip 2: Agility is a Strength
Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company was quoted as saying “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”. Rather, he pushed to change the status quo, making cars affordable and that greatly impacted American life. Agility in our business allows us to go beyond the faster horse mindset. It has enabled us to think about how we can better serve our clients, help us change and differentiate.
Tip 3: ABC – Always Be Connecting
The motivational sales acronym for “Always Be Closing” also characterizes the need for communication. “Always Be Connecting” is what we need to do in this ‘new normal’, more collaborating and conversations to a regular cadence is vital in a remote working environment. Fortunately, tools like MSTeams, WebEx, and Zoom provide a seamless digital communication experience.
Head of Sales APAC
Tip 1: Nurture and grow your network
During the pandemic, people have mostly worked from home, away from the hustle and bustle of the office, and have become happier about hearing from vendors, partners, and long-lost professional relationships. Getting in touch with old and new acquaintances has multiple benefits: it shows you care even without having anything to sell, it also allows you to approach people who are usually very busy at normal times, and last it allows you to build the revenue of tomorrow, by hearing first-hand on which projects will be prioritized after the lockdown is over.
Tip 2: Clean up your laptop and dig into the past
What better time than this to go through past discussions? Carefully read through your past minutes of unsuccessful meetings, and identify those which could turn into business now. Catch up with people for whom you said: “to do: keep in touch”. Go through the hundreds of accumulated files in your computer, and delete whatever has no longer any value. This will force you to “remember” some old opportunities which you never followed up on, or that skipped your CRM or your own radar.
Tip 3: Project your clients into the future
People are fed up with the bad news about COVID. Everybody also says “we’re heading for a new world”. Do your homework and identify what issues the clients have, or will have post-COVID, and how you can help. Then engage them with positivity. Tell them this is the time to rethink the way they do business (WFH, office virtualization, low/no-touch money workflows, disaster recovery, you name it), and what solutions you provide for that. Position your product early, before it’s back to “business as usual” at the banks. In short, the pandemic is the perfect time for clients and vendors alike to think strategically, and see what systemic changes will impact them, and to include your company in their brainstorming.
Regional Director, Sales – South East Asia & India
Tip 1 – Everyone is in the same storm
Remember that travel restrictions and difficulty in meeting face to face apply to everyone – including your competition. A video call is not the same as an informal chat over coffee, but then the competition is not having coffee meetings either. Stay positive and remind yourself that limitations affect everyone.
Tip 2 – Buyers are under pressure to become more efficient
The economic uncertainty due to COVID may cause a level of hesitation to move forward with discretionary spend. However, remember that there is pressure on the buyer to keep the wheels running and find ways to make the wheels run better, faster, cheaper. Find a way to position your offering (product/service) in a way that aligns with immediate objectives of the buyer.
Tip 3 – Leverage the upside of telecommuting
Because of reduced travel, it is easier to find time on prospects’ calendar. The WFH situation offers opportunities to build rapport that a “normal” situation does not. Turn on the video in calls, offer a peek into your home, share stories of family. Remember that person on the other end of call enjoys human connection as well.
GM & Managing Director APAC/Oceania
Tip 1: People are your key asset
Look after them. From a tooling perspective ensure that under WFH or even WFA conditions, your team has the right equipment. These are the new “office”. A reliable VC provider plus backup sound equipment, WIFI conference speaker and decent microphones. Anyone who has tried to wear a headset all day or to listen to a person speaking through a default laptop mic will appreciate the added comfort these small things bring. Presenting a professional image to your remote clients and customers makes a difference – utilise backdrops with company logos downloaded, it establishes as much as possible that business environment to assist with conversations. Check in daily on how the teams are doing, what’s the mood, ensure an opportunity for everyone to come together virtually daily.
Tip 2: Focus
Remember that prospects have nearly all had another task heaped upon them – COVID management. While accessibility to people has on the whole increased as the extra time people under WFH conditions. Stay focused. Now is not a time to roll through your full product offering, find the pain, solve the problem and leave. Clients will remember this more than anything else you could do right now.
Tip 3: Positivity
Despite all the talk of the new norm, in general and with time, I suspect things will return far closer to normal than currently being touted. New scares people, it infers further disruption. All this negativity and uncertainty infects and affects everyone. Resist the temptation to run through the latest infection rates or unknowns on calls. Ensure you are planning your meetings with positive notes. Reinforce this with transparent communication of internal news, be repetitive concerning the stability of the company.
VP Sales Asia
Tip 1: Digitize to Deal with Disruption
While OpenText was recently able to quickly and effectively shift to a hybrid work model that enables integrated remote working for our employees, not all businesses have experienced the same seamless transition. In fact, more than a third (35%) of office-based workers across the globe feel they are not equipped with the digital tools needed to effectively shift their work to a remote environment. Employees want to be part of companies that are future proof; supported by the right digital technology to withstand disruption, whilst also allowing them to continue growing their own careers and skills. Despite the crisis, every forward-thinking company has an opportunity to re-think their approach to innovation to make themselves more attractive as a prospective employer.
Tip 2: Make collaboration easy
The crisis is also shining a light on the need for companies to re-look at how they access and collaborate on information. OpenText helps organizations support their customers, partners, employees and communities with information management solutions that ensure distributed work groups have easy access to accurate, timely and secure information. We have seen an increased demand for cloud-based solutions like OpenText Core Share which allow employees to securely share and collaborate on projects while working remotely with fellow employees, partners and customers, both behind and beyond the corporate firewall.
Tip 3: Turning information overload into an Information Advantage
Finally, the current crisis has exacerbated the challenge of employees being overwhelmed with information – they are often relying on more sources, using more applications and spending more time looking for a specific file or piece of information. Organisations need to turn today’s information overload into an Information Advantage – leveraging content and data smartly and quickly to succeed in the ‘new equilibrium’. These capabilities – or ‘Information Advantage’ – will be vital to ensuring enterprises have the resiliency to recover and grow during this period of volatility and disruption.
The financial technology industry is familiar with change and adapting fast is part of it’s DNA. As companies evolve through these challenging times new and innovative methods of growth and innovation will arise.
Alan Anwar is the Managing Director at Datasearch Consulting, a leading executive recruitment firm specialising in the Financial Technology & Data sectors.
You can download their FREE comprehensive guide on “The Complete Guide to Hiring Fintech & Data Talent – 5 Proven Steps to Secure the Best Candidates Possible” here. Alternatively you can view the Datasearch Consulting website or contact them directly on email@example.com for a more detailed discussion.
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