Sales Advice: What to Change about Selling during COVID-19
CEO Insights team, 0
COVID-19 impact: Are sales teams willing to hunker down for the long haul in the hope that things will eventually and slowly come back to ‘normal’ in the way they knew it before COVID-19? Or will they re-invent themselves and change their organisation’s product-mix immediately for a ‘new normal’ aggressively and proactively?
Sales teams will need to understand that their organisation cannot be in business paying salaries and rent if they don’t deliver on top-line revenues. Which also means that organisations that don’t have strong cash reserves will find it hard to even support or afford a long-term attitude on sales. So, hunkering down for the long haul despite whatever cost-cutting the organisation may be forced to deal with, will definitely not solve the cash flow problem.
This means, the only option is to evaluate what can be done in the short-term to keep generating cash flow. In these times of lockdowns and work-from-home, both for the sales teams and their potential/existing clients, is this style of working remotely using Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts and telephone conversations going to be the ‘new normal’? If yes, then what exactly is expected of sales teams in the ‘new normal’? Shared here are my seven golden rules for ‘selling in the new normal’.
First and foremost – Small is beautiful, be ready to strike gold. Keep making the effort to understand what your existing or new clients need by way of product/services – however small and however remote on the horizon, try your best to deliver VALUE. Don’t look at the profits or the size but look at building relationships. For if there is no action to fulfil that need, there is an absolute guarantee that there will be no reward (of any business from the client). In all that effort, you are sure to strike gold when you find an ideal customer that requires time and patience, and will possibly have a bigger deal size.
Second – Hone the hunter’s instinct of being quick as a flash. Make sure that leads are responded to almost immediately. Whether it’s an organic lead or a paid one, make sure they are first ‘qualified’ for interest and relevant purpose by the marketing team, and then follow it up with a deeper conversation with the sales team.
The only option is to evaluate what can be done in the short-term to keep generating cash flow
Third – Keep in touch. For all the prospects or leads, for all the clients past and present, it’s critical that you pick up the phone and speak with them – at least once a fortnight if not more. Sometimes, it may not even have a business agenda – it could be to enquire about their health, or to inform them of something that you feel would be of interest or value to them (news bite, industry stats, pandemic update in their geography). You need to build a calendar of ‘calls without a business purpose’ and ‘calls with a business purpose’ and make sure you adhere to it, even if you are the only person who knows about your calendar. This is the secret to building empathy - by active listening.
Fourth – On track? Keep track! Irrespective of whether you are an individual contributor or a team leader in the sales team, every lead/every conversation must be tracked assiduously. Set up team reviews on the calendar once a week to discuss progress on each lead/ conversation. Be absolutely open with the team to allow them to reach out to you for advice, problem-solving, guidance, or simply approvals. Remember, it’s about them calling you when their need to speak is more and your job is to listen and act to help them solve or resolve their problems/ needs/ or simply enable them.
Fifth - Keep digging, keep sowing and build a pipeline for the future. Now that we find ourselves confined to our homes, we’re spending a lot of time in front of our laptops. Use this time to make prospect lists, organise your target accounts and add those prospects to a pipeline to start reaching out to in the immediate future.
Sixth – Strap up for a new gig economy. With the cash flow in most organisations at near zero, be prepared as an employee to strap up for being self-employed, i.e. gear up both psychologically and materially to become a gig-based workforce (paid for work delivered) rather than a ‘fixed salary’ employee. If you keep working with that mindset, you will just not rest!
Last but not the least – Be visible, be yourself. Use blogs, social media, webinars and emails to openly communicate with your teams and colleagues. Grow your thought leadership by sharing your set of values, your opinions and goals for life’s bigger purpose. What you share may not necessarily have anything to do with business but what you are as a person is infinitely more important – not just to people who are depending on you, but for the most basic social value – trust!