The challenge that all sales teams will now face is how to adjust and continue to achieve sales targets in the current environment. This blog provides practical ideas on how to cope with the new sales reality, all of which link back to our around our habit’s triangle which itself is based on our 150 years of working with sales teams – a period that has included working successfully through multiple significant crises!
Our belief is that a salesperson needs to be proficient in 3 areas of their job in order to be effective. They need to:
1. The right level of sales motivation – constructive self-talk being the most crucial.
2. Utilisation systems – have solid self-management, use your CRM system effectively, etc.
3. Execution of effective sales skills – communication skills, closing skills, etc.
All these 3 areas need to be in balance with behaviours habitualised. Here are some of the biggest challenges and areas to focus on:
1. Sales Motivation:
a. Emotional Resilience
Panic and fear are influencing buying appetite and will continue to do so during this period of uncertainty, with an agreement that the mental and psychological pressure of selling will become even more demanding.
Sales leaders should provide strong examples, keeping all conversations positive and communicating success throughout the organisation, with salespeople being aware and working on having constructive self-talk.
We will face more rejection, uncertainty and objections. Emotional resilience will become a key component in the new selling mix. It’s very easy to slip into being angry, apathetic, blameful, feeling sorry for ourselves and giving up. Proactive mental hygiene is crucial.
b. The CIA Circle of Influence
It is important we focus on things you can control: our activity and attitude.
The world around us can be divided into 3 different spheres: C – What we can Control, I – What we can Influence, A – what we need to Accept (for now).
The things we need to accept for now are things like Brexit, COVID-19, the weather… They are real and they are important. They might be painful, but we must accept them (for now) and save our emotional energy for things we can control.
c. Accountability Buddies
Sales plans need to be revisited or created, keeping the focus on sales objectives and targets.
Do you have accountability buddies or accountability teams? “Calling parties” can help support the camaraderie feel.
Salespeople are generally proud to be very independent and do not like to show weakness. Inside we are probably a little more fragile and will find it useful selling in a virtual team. Effort and activity will become more important than ever. There is nothing worse for a sales professional than sitting idle and engage in the ‘mental mushroom’ about their future (this is defined by a train of thought that leads to catastrophic personal scenarios that are highly improbable).
a. The Right Technology
Have you role-played an online sales presentation among yourselves instead of freestyling it for the first time in front of your customers / prospects?
You need know how to use your video conferencing tool to share content because the amount of time that you will spend using it will probably increase dramatically. All major vendors are being very helpful at running webinars on the effective use of their technology.
b. Client Segmentation
It is worth revisiting the client segmentation, reviewing how much you’ve been affected.
You will probably be able to tell which segments are the ones that will keep on buying, which ones will be putting projects ‘on hold’ for a while and which ones will have to be cancelling everything.
Top of the funnel activity is controllable and therefore gives us the feeling of being in control. You need to get the right balance between careful activity tracking and intrusive surveillance. The outcomes of COVID-19 for companies are only influenceable. Set up a KPI system that will help your sales teams feel more in control of their future and link their self-esteem to their levels of effort and activity rather than results.
a. Formulation of Compelling Value
The best salespeople will be able to understand the customer’s needs and present a solution that represents true value for the customer. You will quickly see a ROI.
Almost daily we used to hear our customers say, “Sales is not our biggest challenge currently – we have issues delivering. We find it challenging to open new opportunities from the delivery point of view.” Some salespeople became ‘fat on success’ – without much effort they could bring in huge numbers thanks to the economic situation. This will likely change. Formulating a compelling value proposition will become the differentiator between companies whose sales are going to be affected heavily and companies that will glide through a minor speed bump.
b. Online Sales Conversation.
How are you going to present your physical evidence, your third person validation, your case studies?
Strong communication skills in face-to-face conversations and strong communication skills using video conferencing are completely different. Most sales conversations have moved or will move, online. This is simple for some but a total game changer for most. Having the odd conversation over a video conference is easy but having impactful sales conversations is a totally different story.
We hope you find this advice useful and we wish you strong self-talk in the upcoming months. To further support you we have some webinars available in the on-demand section of the resources.