“It’s not what you know, but who you know!” It’s one of those age-old sayings that gets thrown about in sales circles all the time – and it’s predominantly true.
But when the world goes into lockdown, and your primary target audience is quite literally closing its doors, it doesn’t really matter who you know…
I am the commercial director at Qudini, a retail technology firm that provides appointment booking and virtual queuing software to enterprise retailers and banks. At the start of last year, we were primarily helping organisations like NatWest, Specsavers, O2 and Samsung with in-store appointments or virtual queues for service.
So when stores closed at the end of March, 2020, needless to say, we were a little concerned!
But then something brilliant happened. Our small team of 20 people pulled together. We shared ideas. We collaborated. And we took Qudini to an entirely new level.
Here’s some of the many sales lessons I’ve learnt over the last year:
1) Turbulent times inspire innovation
Before the pandemic, Qudini’s technology was being used primarily inside of stores, so when the first lockdown took place, we were at a loss for how our technology could be used to help our clients in the interim.
But instead of waiting until the lockdown ended, we pooled our knowledge together to figure out how our queuing and booking technology could work for retailers while their stores were closed, and we came up with some excellent ideas.
Firstly, we had already noticed the growing demand for curbside click and collect in the US, and came to realise how it could create a safe, easy and efficient customer journey for customers to collect online orders – especially since online orders were taking weeks or months to arrive at that point.
Secondly, we realised the need for effective virtual appointment scheduling software to power video calls for services like personal shopping, tech support and video banking.
Lastly, we thought about how our technology could be used to enforce social distancing when stores reopened, and landed on virtual queues outside of stores and online appointments for in-store services.
But anyone can come up with good ideas – it’s taking those ideas from concept to completion that is the trickier part…
2) Work WITH your customers
At Qudini, we work with some brilliant retailers and some truly skilled omnichannel experts – during the lockdown, we worked with them to cater our solutions towards their specific challenges.
At the time, many retailers had experienced a huge surge in demand for online sales, and as a result, their warehouses had run out of stock. However, they still had loads of stock in their stores, making curbside click and collect that much more appealing.
We worked with Currys PC World and Pets at Home to create some of the first largescale curbside click and collect pilot programmes in the country, allowing customers to easily and safely collect their online orders.
And we launched a number of video calling integrations, including Zoom, 4X4 and Go In-store, to allow retailers to connect with their customers virtually. This was a huge success, with Burberry, Samsung and Brown Thomas all adopting the solution.
The lesson here – rather than trying to force a square peg through a round hole, work with your customers to find out where their problems lie and help them to find a solution.
3) Businesses can move quickly when they need to
In tough times, I’ve found that businesses go either one of two ways – they clamp down, try their best to save every penny they can and cross their fingers that one day things will get better, or they throw their processes out the window and go full steam ahead.
During the pandemic, we saw the usual 18 month B2B sales cycle shrink down to a matter of weeks. Dozens of high profile retailers were contacting us to find out how our solutions could work in their stores and were fast-tracking paperwork to start trials in their stores or across their online channels as soon as possible.
4) Be agile
Agility is a buzzword that gets thrown around all the time these days, but during the pandemic, this seemingly small characteristic is precisely what makes or breaks us.
That’s why our team is focussed less on simply selling – we’re all about working with enterprise retailers to ensure our solutions are relevant, useful and easy to use. We don’t apply a one-size-fits-all model to our appointment scheduling software or our queuing system. Instead, we’re always innovating, adapting and challenging our solutions, and that’s why our customers stick with us.
5) Show empathy to others
We live in challenging times – huge, well-known retail brands are going under, people are out of work and a great number of us are struggling.
While we’ve been lucky enough to continue operating during the pandemic, not every business has been. That’s why when we’re dealing with clients and prospects, we make pains to have and show empathy – our technology is great, but we’re a human-to-human business more than anything else.
We’re looking to grow our team and have a number of exciting sales and account management roles available. You can view them on Workable or view our careers page to find out more about working at Qudini.