No matter how big or small your organization is, it’s a good bet that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted you in some way.
It has meant that many of us have had to reassess our working practices and adapt to a rapid shift in consumer behavior.
In this piece, we’re going to cover how you can manage your sales team in these most unusual of times, with guidance and methods to help you navigate the difficulties posed by COVID-19 and any similar problems in the future.
What to do When a Crises Changes Working Methods
If nothing else, the COVID-19 outbreak has served to show us just how quickly life can be turned on its head. One of the biggest things that will have changed during this period is how we work and the levels of support required by employees, customers, and peers.
We’ve seen organizations move to a remote working structure in double-quick time to ensure that those that can work from home are doing so safely. Many businesses will have been successful in doing this, while others will still be experiencing some teething pains.
So, how can we shift our mindset and routines without a massive disruption to the sales process as we move forward?
Firstly, it’s a good idea to have the tools and adaptability for remote working within your organization, no matter if you plan to use them day-to-day or not. Creating these technological processes and placing them is crucial, particularly as we have no idea where we will be in a month, six months, or a year from now.
From a sales perspective, if you’ve not had the chance to do so already, it’s crucial to implement technology that allows for useful internal and customer-facing communication.
You must also review your processes. What policies have you put in place to allow team members the flexibility to do their very best?
For example, during the lockdown, schools have been forced to closed, and parents haven’t had access to their usual childcare support. In this case, it’s a good idea to create a policy moving forward that allows parents the opportunity to strike a balance between working efficiently and looking after their children.
In response to this, many organizations have adopted flexible working patterns. So long as team members are available for a few hours each day for meaningful communication, it is no longer so important when the work gets done. This kind of policy may become invaluable to your team members; the longer this crisis continues.
Conducting regular audits of your policies and processes, and allowing your team to join in with their thoughts and ideas, will mean you can improve the performances of your team and the business as a whole.
After all, this pandemic will have impacted everyone differently, so it’s essential to take a dynamic approach to allow your team to perform in an environment that suits them.
How to Keep Everyone Safe, Positive, and Motivated
For a salesperson used to feeding off the energy of the office atmosphere, a sudden changed to remote working can be a challenge. Not only do they need to adapt to a new routine, but they may also need to get to grips with unique collaboration and communication technologies.
This newly enforced method of working applies to management, too, so your processes and training schedules must also adjust.
Making these changes may seem daunting, but as a leader, you have a responsibility to foster a trusting relationship, keep the team safe, and communicate with them as transparently as possible.
Ensure that your team is fully aware of your company and government guidelines as they change to ensure you’re doing your part to keep them out of harm’s way.
The crucial thing to remember here is that your sales pipeline volume will become very unpredictable. Your team must be aware of this, so you can work together to make changes for the better as the ongoing situation demands.
How to Reassure your Customers and Realign your Marketing
Your customers may also be feeling the pinch at this time; as such, their priorities will change, and you may notice they do so unexpectedly.
As you help your team adapt to the new normal, no matter how long it may last, it’s crucial also to extend that hand to your customers. And remember, serve first, sell later.
Yes, it’s crucial to the integrity of your company to continue to close deals. But, there should also be a focus on helping your customers and prospects during what may be the most challenging period of their lives.
For instance, it’s a good idea to put the brakes on any cold email campaigns you might have going at the moment as standard marketing campaigns may appear insensitive. Instead, you need to use this time to modify and rethink the messages you’re putting across to align them with the most urgent needs of your customer base.
However, don’t forget to take the handbrake off eventually. As this situation progresses, it’s crucial to move with the times to create something that offers some helpful advice that your customers, prospects, and even your team can benefit from.
It’s so important to communicate these directive changes to the team too. Tell them that a new direction is needed and let them know how and why they should be including these new messages in their pitches. Once they’re involved in the process, there will be a greater sense of ownership, and a duty to serve prospects.
How to Modify and Manage your Sales Tactics
While your organization may feel it necessary to cut costs in some areas, you and your team must continue to drive further revenue-generating activities.
Below, we’ve pinpointed three important business-driven priorities that you and your team must work to achieve during this pandemic:
- Create and communicate compassionate messages to both your employees and your audience.
- Prevent the decay of the sales pipeline.
- Identify and investigate new business opportunities.
No matter the industry you’re operating in, it’s highly likely you’ll have experienced a dip in sales (although some industries such as home entertainment have bucked this trend.)
Being agile and moving quickly to rapid changes and temporary trends in the way consumers are behaving is the most effective way to turn the tide. Even in the best of times, buyers can suddenly shift priorities, so it’s good practice to ensure your organization can do the same.
If you want to serve your existing prospects, then take the time to listen to what they’re feeding back to you. How are they coping during this crisis, and how can you be of service beyond simply providing them with a product or service?
For instance, if you frequently share your content with customers and prospects, start pulling together on-trend and timely information about their industry to create something that may help them make changes to their businesses.
You may also find that what you’re offering could be of use during this time, so you might want to think about how your product or solution can be used most effectively to tackle some of the challenges that many are currently facing.
Written by Ben Harper: a sales specialist and founder of lead generation company meethugo.com