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"It is all about digitizing the experience, and those companies that can't do that well will not win." – Bonnie Hensler, VP/General Manager for Consumer Payments at Change Healthcare
The Harbert College is dedicated to partnering with companies and alumni to engage industry and improve business practice.
Explore new ways to creatively reach customers. Dig deep and grind through challenging times. More importantly, evolve.
Those were tips two industry professionals, Bonnie Hensler, VP/General Manager for Consumer Payments at Change Healthcare, and Kyle Marchuk, Account Executive at Salesforce shared during a special webinar, “Marketing, Sales, and the Future,” presented Wednesday, October 21, by the Harbert College of Business.
How does a firm create more business and bring more attention to its product in the midst of a global pandemic?
“The playing field is a little bit different now and it’s created these new avenues for people to get really creative and interact with customers in a very different way,” said Marchuk, a 2015 Harbert College Marketing graduate. “At Salesforce, we go out and visit people probably once a month or so, but now we’ve gone completely virtual and to sell software virtual, you’ve got to really convey your message over phone or video. The buying and selling experiences have totally changed.”
He said buyers prefer a remote experience, but that depends on the product and service. “If you have a concrete, tangible product, we need to find new ways to get creative to sell to those people,” he added. “Is it sending a sample, then doing some kind of video interactive session with them?”
Hensler, a 1992 Harbert College Marketing graduate, noted the challenge of communicating with customers remotely.
“Most of our customers want hands-on interaction, they want face-to-face,” said Hensler. “Part of sales is trust. You have to believe in that person. It’s not just the company. That can be a challenge – but folks are embracing it (remote communication) more.”
One popular form of networking and marketing is trade shows. But how does this work in a virtual world?
“It is all about digitizing the experience, and those companies that can't do that well will not win,” Hensler said.
“Going forward, our world looks different. If you do not have really good digital tools and digital ways to show that product, to make it tangible for the customer to feel it and really understand what they're buying and what they're getting and what the benefits to that customer is, whether it's internal efficacy or efficiency or customer satisfaction, you're going to have to prove it with ROI. Leveraging those digital tools, the analytics, and really trying to thread that through is going to be pivotal.”
What is the future of sales and marketing? “We’re seeing that investors are looking long-term and what’s going to happen on the other side of COVID-19,” said Hensler. “Technology companies … their market value is really not being affected because they have been able to shift. The folks that are really getting hit right now are the brick and mortar, or the smaller mom and pops, unfortunately.
“So how do you market? How do you reach your customers? How do you change your business model? All of this is critical. Technology companies like Amazon get it. But look at Walmart. Walmart is changing its model to fight Amazon.
"What’s going to happen is their online experience is blended with the retail experience. How you evolve is going to make or break you.”
Marchuk added: “I think the tactics have changed, but the grit hasn't. You've got to find new ways. You've got to still have that determination, and I think you've just got to keep nurturing it and finding customers. When the time is not the right time to decide, nurture them, and then come back to them when the time is right.”
The “Reshaping Business in 2020” series continues on Wednesday, October 28, at 11 a.m., as “Sourcing, Forecasting, and RFID Technology” will be presented by the Harbert College Department of Supply Chain Management. This webinar will discuss future disruptions, technology, and more, featuring: Dr. Shashank Rao, Professor in Supply Chain Management at the Harbert College, Justin Patton, Auburn RFID Lab Director, Natalie Walker, Harbert Vendor Relationship Analyst, and 2013 Harbert College alum Conor Gattis, Group Purchasing Manager at Georgia-Pacific. To participate, register here.