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A Q&A from our webinar on 'how to make remote selling in fashion a success'

MAR 9, 2021 - LUNA LAYSIEPEN, GROWTH MARKETING

It's been a while, but we are back with a new webinar! This time around we invited a panel of experts to talk us through their experiences, challenges, and learnings when running remote sales. We were joined by Fred Gregarek and Nicola Baldinelli from Havaianas, Inès Chabin from Tommy Hilfiger, Yuki Dowding from Calvin Klein. Last but not least, we asked communication expert Margreet Jacobs from StageHeroes to join us for an extra spin to make remote (sales) meetings fun and engaging. So buckle up, and get ready for some expert tips for remote sales.  

Want more? Watch the full webinar here

1. How important is storytelling for digital selling?


Inès: It's key! It's the center of everything. It's important when you sell remotely, but it's also important when you sell face-to-face. It's all about bringing emotion to your appointments. At PVH (Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein) we make use of great assets and videos that we can show which helps with storytelling. That is the best way to create emotion, by getting people excited at the beginning of the appointment.

Fred: Storytelling is key for us as well. And I think we are able to do that digitally quite well also. What I try to do is to be really interactive in working together with the customers. So, not to conduct a monologue, but instead to have a dialogue. This way I can be interactive with my customer. For example, let's talk about our story, which also makes up the concept of storytelling.

2. Margreet, do you have more 'golden nugget' tips for us on how to improve remote presenting / engagement?


Margreet: One of the things that really works for me for engagement is standing. Because when you're standing you're literally sending a signal to your brain that says "it's time for action, it's time for business". And when you're sitting down, the signal your brain gets is "it's resting time". 
So I always recommend sitting down for price negotiations for example, because you don't want to get too excited there. But when you're presenting a collection, when you want to bring enthusiasm: stand up and keep yourself more engaged, and in a space where you can move freely. 
By the way, when you stand up you also tend to use your hands more. And when we use our hands more, we bring more variation to our voice, as our hand and arm muscles are actually connected to our vocal cords. So when you use your hands more, you bring more variation in your voice, which in turn allows your audience to stay engaged more. Because we all know when someone speaks very flat, we tend to check out really fast.
Another thing which can work really well is, when you have an appointment with multiple people, saying the person's name that you're asking a question to. If you just throw out a question, everybody will be waiting for another to start speaking (we tend to not want to speak out of turn). By addressing a specific person by name, they are more inclined to stay engaged and to truly interact with you. And to keep creating something together.

3. Nicola, the Italian market is quite diverse with lots of accounts. Do you see different reactions to digital and remote sales as well?


Nicola: Yes actually! We have our key accounts, which are already quite digitally oriented. But we also have hundreds of local customers who are immensely important for our market. And the interesting thing is, that the reactions of the local accounts were absolutely great.
To be honest, at the start, using the HATCH digital showroom felt a bit like playing a video game for the first time. We didn't yet fully understand the steps we needed to take. But not long after that, you actually start playing with your collection, with the new tool. And you start to integrate the relationships that you are building with your customers into the digital showroom. All of this results in delivering really good experiences for all customers. 
So yes, we have many different customers, but the reaction across the board has been very positive. I think the most important learning I've had in dealing with a wide range of customer types, is that we are all facing a digital revolution. And that actually, we are all going through it. When you think about it, we all have a laptop, a smartphone, with all these different apps. So it's about integrating these digital elements into your sales appointments and seeing that as an opportunity to bring energy to the sales meeting and your customers. 
In the end, I've actually had positive feedback from all my customers, and they're all excited to start seeing new developments coming through. 

4. What's the trickiest category to sell remotely for each of you?


Yuki: Shirts and Denim!

Inès: Definitely shirts and denim. 

5. What is your post-Covid Brand Strategy, connecting virtual selling vs physical (showroom) selling? It seems that virtual is here to stay (for example for pre-collections). Will main collections still be sold in physical showrooms?


Nicola: Our strategy will be focused on integrating digital assets in the face-to-face experience. Even during our appointments in the physical showrooms, we will interact with digital tools to provide the best brand and buying experience to our customers.

Yuki: We will be using our physical showroom to sell in-person as well as remotely. Although the digital showroom can be tailored to each customer, most buyers are dying to come back to the showrooms! And even though we don’t have many samples and use the digital showroom for appointments, there is still something special about meeting face-to-face. And perhaps the novelty might wear off after, so it’s great to have options and to know the selling journey will remain the same regardless of which option you go for.

HATCH: We expect the shift to selling digitally will continue, and for the seller to have a lot more options for selling both remotely and on location. That’s why we gear the HATCH digital showroom to provide a seamless and flexible web-based experience across many devices.

6. How do you see digital tools we have invested in during Covid further develop post-Covid?


HATCH: We believe that you don't just invest in digital tools, but actually invest in people, processes, and a digital mindset. This investment will pay off in the sense that it allows for more flexibility in the way we work as well as a more sustainable value chain (i.e. fewer samples), efficiency gains in your sales seasons, and a potential sales uplift. 

7. What is the biggest obstacle in selling digitally for you [the panel]?


Inès: Sometimes, we struggle with the accuracy of the digital assets we use in the digital showroom. If there is a discrepancy between the physical sample and its digital counterpart, the experience for the customer at times is nog optimal. Our customers need to trust this new way of working and the best way of achieving this is to provide them with accurate visuals and 3D designs. 

Nicola: It will be important to “play” with all the lines of the collection, in order to build and collaborate on the assortment opportunities: the client usually wants to lead their buying experience, so it is central for us to involve them in the digital appointment as much as possible.

8. It would be interesting to know how you guys are creating your presentations as engaging as possible by using Hatch? What are your secrets? What is working best? Any tips and tricks?


HATCH: We'd like to take this opportunity and take this question even a step further. One way of doing this is to create a behind-the-scenes video, where we can show you best practices like this within the HATCH digital showroom. Stay tuned for more on this topic!

9. I work for a tech company. We have accelerated our digital and social selling initiatives. One of the challenges has been training experienced in-person sellers in media training. What have been the biggest challenges that you have overcome?


HATCH: One of the biggest challenges we have seen while introducing our customers to this new way of working (digital!), is to overcome fear and a natural reluctance to change. Starting something new might feel daunting, especially when you are experienced and feel completely in your comfort zone. Imagine; you’re doing what you’re good at, and BAM, you’re asked to change what works so well for you. For most people, it's not the best feeling in the world… 
But we have also found that taking people through a change, or digital transformation, can be made a more pleasant experience when keeping a few things in mind. E.g.:

  • Bringing people along in the journey from the start and continuously involving them in the conversations regarding the change. Really building together (make them a part of the change you’re introducing) through involvement in discovery, validating developments with them, and showing them in what ways you have taken their feedback on board.
  • Ensure you have advocates (your 'champions') within teams going through the change. In the case of the digital showroom, we often use the term “superuser” to define the sales users that are the peer drivers of digital transformation. Usually, they can be quite critical, but at the same time see the value of digitization and are generally passionate about the change.
  • Make sure you listen to the potential concerns and hesitations from the people going through the change. In the end, it is important to keep the focus on the long-term benefits instead of short-term concerns. Keep in mind, a change in mindset can take a bit of time, but is well worth the effort as the right mindset is pivotal in making a transformation truly successful. 
  • Last, but definitely not least: take time to celebrate the successes together!