Salespeople Making A Big Impact Beyond COVID-19

Businesses know that the old rule book for sales is a thing of the past

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Businesses know that the old rule book for sales is a thing of the past


Salespeople Making A Big Impact Beyond COVID-19

Businesses know that the old rule book for sales is a thing of the past

Share this article

COVID-19, remote work, and huge shifts from everyday personal priorities to delicate global supply chains all mean that although businesses and citizens have adapted, a lot of fundamental assumptions, attitudes, and processes have changed for all parties.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the global economy - and yet also spurred innovation and improvement in many areas, whilst really challenging others to merely function.

The core of all thriving businesses in whatever industry or of whatever size is still their sales team. Sales leaders have and must continue to adjust how their organisation sells in the face of new customer habits and economic hardship.

Even with the end of the global pandemic coming into sight, we may have economically and socially turbulent times ahead of us all for several years to come.

So salespeople have a vital role to play in rebuilding the economy. We must encourage both business and individual consumers to regain confidence, and we must ensure that our businesses can meet those expectations by planning ahead, and by ensuring we know what our customers both want and need.

One of the clear consequences of COVID-19 has been the forced shift in demand throughout the global economy for sales channels. There has been a huge growth in E-commerce while demand for bricks-and-mortar demand has inevitably dwindled due to ongoing regional lockdowns.

In fact, ONS data found online sales in January 2021 accounted for more than a third of all retail sales in the UK.

This may well be a tipping point. It may be that some customers never go back to older ways of doing business, through convenience, or hygienic caution, or the ongoing social distancing and mask mandates that make in-person retail/transactions less enjoyable and simple than in the past.

So, in response to a changed and yet still very changeable landscape, leaders must apply new sales focuses to capture market share while keeping pace with constantly changing customer demand.

These include: connecting with the customer; redefining the sales journey; and re-enabling the sales team.

Connection is key

Successful salespeople are experts in their customers’ business needs and function as consultants, understanding the ultimate goals of all users and providing innovative ideas and solutions.

They are also strategists, offering guidance for their customers on how they navigate the current crisis, plan for recovery, and define the next normal.

The leaders of tomorrow know that meaningful customer connections and insights are critical to surviving and thriving today and for years to come.

If that doesn’t sound like the sales team you have, they must become empathetic to their customers’ needs and educate themselves on how these and their situations may have changed.

Selling is a collaborative process. Pushing a product on a person or business that is not ready doesn’t help the customer and won’t end up developing the right customer connection for a long-term relationship, recommendations to others, and optimal profitability.

The sales journey goes through new territory

Particularly in business-to-business sales, your customers may have changed, their business may have pivoted, and if you are lucky, perhaps businesses have pivoted into needing your products and services.

It’s vital to be up-to-date with how your customers’ industries have fared, what their prospects are like, and how their revenue and plans might be expected to grow over the weeks, months, and years ahead.

There will be a right and a wrong time to begin or continue that conversation, and it may well be with new contacts if their business has contracted. It may be that new contacts start with different priorities and understandings of the space, their role, your role, and the role of products and services to help them fulfil their organisation’s mission.

Take nothing for granted and over-prepare so that whatever place your customer is starting from and intends to go, you are empathetic, understanding, and ready to work with them. In fact, there may well be a need to work harder: To produce new collateral and host more detailed information in accessible formats so that business cases can be made watertight.

(Re-)enable the sales team

Times will almost certainly be tough, there may be a very strong requirement for growth. Sales professionals are well aware of this, they bring in the revenue. But they must also know that to do their job well their industry awareness, understanding, empathy, and openness to new ideas or to changing how they guide customers to the sale all must be en pointe.

There is a strong need for sales teams to be connected to their business, R&D, product development, to the wider world in a way that may challenge or break existing ways of working.

If a business says “that’s not the way we work… we’ve never done that before… let’s do what we’ve always done” - then they likely haven’t really thought about just how much the world has changed and may still change.

Even if an industry hasn’t had an obvious transformation, absolutely everything else around it, from how individuals and their daily lives might have been impacted, or how enterprise supply chains have been squeezed or altered, might play a part in an altered mental landscape.

Being aware and understanding will be key to building the long-term relationships that power revenue for both sides.

These are three of the top sales focuses needed for organisations to successfully survive the post-pandemic period, and beyond into whatever the future holds. Understanding and staying on top of that customer relationship will be key.

Managing all this information in the right CRM solution for changing times will likely be a crucial part of maintaining those relationships and ensuring all the parts of the process come together successfully.

Krishna Panicker is VP Product at Pipedrive.

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Salespeople Making A Big Impact Beyond COVID-19

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