As we’re all rapidly discovering, there’s nothing like a global pandemic to shift the way the world does business. The spread of the coronavirus has forced companies at all levels to implement changes they may not have wanted, and few were prepared to take on – at least on this kind of scale. Many organizations are scrambling to cope.
But amid the concerns and trepidations, new opportunities are arising. While some organizations are panicking and scaling back on budgets and staff, others are finding their services to be in greater demand, and their pipelines more robust than ever. The difference, in large part, comes down to sales leadership.
In a recent report on preparing for coronavirus-related disruptions, Gartner, Inc. suggested, “How CSOs lead now will set the tone and pace for a powerful and career-making experience for everyone in the sales function.”
As a leader responsible for the prosperity of your sales team, what can you do to ensure your organization’s success in this time of crisis?
1. Don’t Panic – This is always first and foremost, no matter what the circumstances are. The crisis won’t last forever. History is full of major economic turmoil and each time, the crisis has eventually passed. In its wake are stronger people and organizations, who emerge with a new perspective, more experience, and better tools to deal with the next eventual crisis.
The more ominous the headlines get, the more important it is to keep calm and remember that your best option is to focus on the things you can control, and let go of the things you can’t.
2. Stay Client-Focused – The heart of sales is helping clients succeed. In uncertain times like these, it’s important to remember that although we may change the way we do business, we shouldn’t forget the why we do it. As you look for opportunities to continue to grow your organization, don’t let your own concerns about your metrics, commissions, and goals cloud your judgment when it comes to how you serve your clients. Clients can sniff this out from miles away, and they’ll be quick to turn their back on it.
Take a moment to assess your clients’ concerns and their planned responses to the pandemic. Most clients are focused on employee and customer safety, and they may be experiencing immediate challenges like operational interruptions and cash flow declines. Reengineer your selling points to frame your solutions around your clients’ most urgent concerns.
3. Go Virtual – As entire countries are locked down under strict quarantine orders, virtual operations are a critical part of keeping business moving forward. While many companies were already starting to favor digital communications over in-person meetings, the current pandemic has pressed the fast-forward button on those plans.
If you haven’t already, move your face-to-face meetings to videoconferencing tools like Skype or Zoom, or stick with basic voice calls if that’s what your clients prefer. Expand the range of instant messengers your team uses, and use them to give your clients and prospects greater accessibility to your reps. Replace live events with creative digital solutions, like webinars, virtual office tours, and live demos using remote access tools or videos showing your product in action.
4. Reflect and Act – Change is always a good catalyst for reflection on what’s working, what’s not and what’s needed going forward. As sales leaders, we know that the key to improving our win rate – regardless of the current economic climate – is maximizing the effectiveness of our sales force. Once the immediate needs of the moment are addressed, the next step is to look at what that means for our specific organization.
A basic SWOT analysis can be a good place to start, to gain a better understanding of your overall business and how it now fits in the changing environment. From there, a more thorough sales team evaluation can provide a detailed look at your sales force and help you identify the weaknesses and skill gaps that are limiting your sales results. Those insights will allow you to develop an effective action plan for resolving them and ensuring your team’s ongoing success.
This kind of assessment is particularly important now, when the labor pool is about to expand as other companies cut budgets and workforce. Talented sales reps will become available, and savvy sales leaders are preparing themselves to make smart hires that will shore up skill gaps and create a well-rounded sales team.
5. Build Your Go-Forward Plan – When the dust eventually settles and we’re all allowed back out in public, we know that not everything will go back to the way it was before the pandemic hit. Activities like digital meetings and virtual sales training will continue to be used in greater scale after the crisis.
Companies may have been forced to switch to virtual options as a short-term solution, but reports have shown that virtual sales training can double sales reps’ confidence and increase pipeline creation by 23.2%, compared to reps who participated in live classroom training.
Developing top sales talent is an ongoing need, regardless of the current sales climate. Using comprehensive, science-based sales performance assessments, HireDNA’s experts can help you identify both immediate and long-term opportunities for growth, and uncover skill gaps that may be holding your team back. We partner closely with you to create a high-performance sales culture, with a clear picture of what it will take to improve your people, processes, and systems.
HireDNA was also recently recognized as an emerging leader in corporate training and coaching. Our experts can assist with any questions about building first-in-class, on-demand sales training tailored specifically for remote sales forces.
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