October 22, 2021 PEO Sales in Today's Business Environment Featured Article MARKETING & SALES: THE NEW SALES LANDSCAPE BY ANDREW SOWELL The pandemic has forced businesses to be more open-minded about how they structure and run their organizations. Small business owners who have “always done it this way” are now seeking new methods to remain competitive and grow in the current economy after being heavily impacted by the pandemic. Business owners are becoming more aware of the importance of human resources functions, talent strategies, and concepts like HR outsourcing. Many small business owners and company leaders have become more interested in learning about how PEOs can benefit their businesses through solutions to compliance, recruiting, and retention challenges brought to the forefront during the pandemic. The future of work is now, and it is vital for PEO sales teams to continue to create transparent relationships that help businesses recover, grow, and thrive. FULL CIRCLE: IN-PERSON IS BACK In today’s economic landscape, the world of sales is coming full circle. Prior to COVID, email, door-to-door sales, and personalized calls were the differentiators. During the intense periods of isolation throughout the pandemic, salespeople nationwide were forced to find creative ways to make connections virtually. Many prospects were bombarded with emails, webinar invites, and automated messages. Now, as society transitions back to pre-pandemic norms, in-person interaction is once again the differentiator. For the PEO industry specifically, Chamber of Commerce events, trade shows, and in-person sales outreach introductions are back and provide opportunities for sales teams to build vital relationships. Improved responses and reciprocity to in-person sales efforts and initiatives shows that many people both inside and outside of sales value the human interaction that was missed during the periods of isolation during the pandemic. TECHNOLOGY STILL HAS A PLACE With technology underpinning remote work and social distancing throughout the pandemic, we need to recognize that some prospects may now prefer virtual communications. Salespeople have adapted and grown accustomed to leveraging technology to be as efficient as possible. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve found increased success with optimizing features on LinkedIn such as liking company posts and connecting with prospects by sending personalized, helpful, and relevant messages. We’ve also started featuring company posts in the “Featured” section of our personal profiles to create interest and drive traffic to our website. Many people on our team discovered increased engagement when using innovative video apps to create and send personalized recorded messages. Prospects will often respond with interest and ask questions about the video’s content. The content should be your original, creative spin on selling PEO services and should be informative. We also use this service to follow up on previous meetings by including a recap of what was discussed as well as action items for next steps. We’ve found this specific sales tactic has been extremely impactful throughout the pandemic and in the emerging post-pandemic world. I always like to make the video feel as genuine, helpful, and fun as possible. I usually opt for an unscripted, one-take method of recording. I believe this method makes the message more personal and relatable rather than generic or robotic sounding when I use a script. CUSTOMIZED COMMUNICATION Ultimately, identifying the prospect’s communication preferences is the best bet in today’s era of remote and hybrid work environments. If the relationship is too fresh to identify or ask if the prospect prefers communicating in-person and/or via technology, it doesn’t hurt to give both methods a try and gauge the response to each one. My team has found a triple-touch tactic to be effective when reaching out to prospects. We first try a phone call, then video email, and finally, a LinkedIn message with an invitation to connect. We are then able to determine the prospect’s preferred communication method—which could be a combination of both in-person and virtual methods—to use based on how the outreach methods are received. GREAT VALUE OF PEO COVID has resulted in the creation of many new state and federal employment law compliance implications for businesses for vaccinations, safety practices, paid sick leave, unemployment tax accounts, wage rates, work-from-home policies, and more. This provides an opportunity for sales teams to market that their PEO offers compliance guidance for solutions to the latest employment laws, a concern for many business owners who may not know where to begin. A specific advantage that should be pitched is that PEOs help companies who are hiring out-of-state candidates for new remote work job opportunities comply with requirements of state hiring, drug testing, and payroll tax regulations. I believe the world of PEO sales can also benefit from explaining how a professional employer organization can offer a pick-and-choose selection of services catered to the prospect’s business goals. When showcasing how PEOs offer a variety of integrated HR services such as payroll, benefits, tax administration, on-call human resources, and regulatory compliance assistance, it is valuable to clarify that a combination of customized services may be selected. This helps to gauge the prospect’s areas of need and level of interest. We’ve also found that mentioning PEO technology (your human resources information system (HRIS)) and how it can manage everything from applicant tracking and onboarding to performance management and time tracking may strike a chord. Particularly if the prospect is looking to improve its people management and hiring functions. Regardless, you can’t go wrong with positioning your PEO company as one that leverages the latest technology that serves to improve processes and drive efficiency. As a second-generation, family-owned company in business for more than 50 years, LandrumHR is proud to be a dedicated HR partner to support local business needs. Our breadth of services allows us to create innovative HR strategies that makes the business of people easier. Our integrated HR solutions are provided by our people, our one-on-one relationships, and technology. Our mission is to work together to enrich lives by building personal relationships that are centered around trust. ANDREW SOWELL Director of Business Development LandrumHR Pensacola, Florida Read in NAPEO's PEO Insider October 2021 issue on page 27.