The challenges currently faced by sales teams, and business leaders, cannot be underestimated.
With the global economy largely on hold and many sectors adjusting to remote and socially distanced working, we are all having to adapt to “the new norm.”
In this blog we discuss how leaders can support their teams, to ensure you emerge from the current crisis in a position to add value to clients and maximise sales. We explain how your customers now expect a new breed of salesperson – which we term as the “New You”- and how you can ensure your team is best placed to serve your clients’ needs.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has decimated the global economy there are undoubtedly sectors, and geographic regions, that have been more heavily impacted than others. As a result, your organisation will be facing different challenges depending on the industry and geography it serves.
We have identified three phases to the lockdown-to-recovery process – from lockdown and restrictions, to recovery planning, to a new sales norm.
Where your organisation and industry falls in the lockdown and recovery process will heavily influence the approach you take to managing your teams.
In a recent webinar survey, 28% of sales leaders told us that they were still very much working under lockdown or restricted conditions, while 66% had moved into a recovery planning and fixing phase, with 16% already operating under the new sales norm.
There is no getting away from the fact that collectively, and individually, we have experienced a huge trauma. However, the severity of this trauma, the impact it has had and eagerness to return to work, will vary widely among your sales team.
Your first step is to assess exactly what your individual team members’ experience of lockdown has been, how they have coped and any mental health support they may need from you. At the very least you should be implementing regular one-to-one calls and virtual team meet-ups (both professionally and socially) to keep staff motivated and engaged.
David Batup, Associate Director, for SBR says: “If you look after the team first then they will look after your customers. This is the time where openness and honesty will pay dividends. Addressing the issues individuals have or will be facing in terms of wellness and mental health is essential.”
To combat the abrupt economic stagnation we have experienced, there may be a temptation to focus on closing sales and generating cashflow. However, there is a danger that this activity could come at the cost of long-term relationships and the sales pipeline.
Therefore, your sales teams need to carry out segmentation activity to determine where your sector, and individual organisations, fall in the recovery process. There will be some deals and projects that are still active, some that have dropped off altogether and some that are in a state of flux.
And your sales people will have no idea what the “new norm” is for accounts until they establish contact. So, they will need to approach these calls with utmost sensitivity. This is where your team adopts almost a consultancy role, the “New You” sales approach.
With a macro view of the state of your industry, and an in depth understanding of your clients’ individual businesses, your team are uniquely placed to offer advice and support to your clients, strengthening the longer term relationship.
David Batup says: “Assisting customers in a way that shows you have thought things through, and applied those ideas to their business, will not only add value but position you as a business consultant first and the sales professional second.”
Where we are seeing this consultative approach having the greatest impact is among your existing client base. With a level of trust already built up existing clients will be more open to an offer of guidance and support.
Alan Morton, Managing Director of SBR says: “We recently worked with a professional services firm on how to be more effective at reaching out proactively and engaging with their dormant contact base.
“As a result of the workshop, and the skills we reviewed, our client set up 25 meetings within an hour, bringing in a single project, worth an excess of £60,000 pounds – all by proactively reaching out to clients.”
With the ongoing economic and social disruption resulting from the Covid-19 outbreak, adapting to the “New Norm” will be a continuous process. Therefore it’s essential that you keep up to date with the latest sales and coaching advice and research.
At SBR we’re dedicated to providing whatever support our clients require to guide them through the ongoing crisis. You can sign up to receive regular updates and join over 4,000 others who enjoy access to our unique research insights, expert guidance and advice.
If you’d like to know more about leading for sales performance, you can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +44 (0) 207 653 3740