One day you are sitting at your desk at work. A customer calls and you hurriedly reach across your desk to grab the copy of the last proposal you reviewed with them. You quickly read through your notes to jog your memory about that last conversation. The next day, you are told you will be working from home for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time. You don’t have your files; your CRM hasn’t been updated in you’re-not-sure-how-long; and your co-workers are far away inside their own homes. How do you continue working? How do you keep selling?
This may sound familiar. Your day is now consumed with an inundation of COVID-19 news, CDC tracking and daily video conference calls to discuss the state of the company and how to be “productive” from home – all while your kids are running wild because school is closed; you’re researching how to make your own hand sanitizer; and the only food left in the house is a can of Manhattan Clam Chowder, expiration date unknown.
Selling during good times is challenging enough. The odds are rarely in your favor making the alignment of need/sponsorship/funding a magical unicorn moment. During the tough times, though, is where top sales professionals can really shine.
Customer decision-making, funding, and sense of urgency can slow down during difficult times. This is when it is key to be adaptable and change your selling behavior. So, what do you do to meet the needs of your customers?
- Assess your sales strategies. Do your current strategies really address the new marketplace effectively? What needs to be changed? Don’t be tone deaf – what worked two months ago won’t work today. No matter how amazing your product or service is.
- Increase your touchpoints. Connect with your clients, prospects and community partners and show them you care, because you do. Ask where you can help and let them know you are a resource when they do have needs. That might be a project or service you can provide them, or it may be an introduction to someone in your network or even a recommendation should they lose their job. Schedule a 20- minute virtual coffee or quick end of day beverage – a quick check in gives a break from the stress of the day, but doesn’t add to the endless list of “to-dos.”
- Be consistent with your messaging and value proposition. Ensure everyone on your sales team is delivering the same message. During times of confusion, customers welcome confidence and stability.
- Keep your team motivated and focused on activity – activity leads to opportunities. While timing may be longer than your typical sales cycle, what you have within your control is the level of activity you generate. Ensure your sales team has an effective and scalable sales process that works and the right tools to support more virtual activities.
- Engage and “arm” others in your company to participate in sales. I often share with our company that “everyone is in Business Development” which couldn’t be more true today. The more people you have engaged in activity, the better chance of building a healthy pipeline.
- Support your sales team. Understand that the individuals on your team have different needs. For example, across our team, there are single-parents, individuals living alone and others with a house full of kids. Regardless, most salespeople are on the extroverted side and being trapped in their homes without much human contact impacts them greatly. We focus on physical and mental wellbeing as the first part of every meeting, then comes the work part.
- Create a functioning and frequent feedback loop to gather timely data. Check in with your sales team and those with client/customer touchpoints to gather insights, understand what they are hearing from their customers and prospects, and collaborate about messaging and mitigating risks.
- Update your offerings and solutions to meet the needs of your customers. This may not be a wholesale change to what your company provides. Spend time with your product or services team and understand which of your solutions can be best adapted to support your clients with what they need to emerge from this situation.
- Utilize your social media presence or scale up your social media presence. Your customers are also likely working from home. Share articles and insights where you personally found value and avoid COVID-19 spamming.
- Celebrate small victories. The world has been turned upside-down; what was once “good news” is now great news. Did your team get a video meeting with a prospect? Celebrate by having a virtual toast or recognize wins on your company social site.
This too shall pass. What matters is how we take care of each other now, and that includes best preparing for what our clients may need on the other side. Because we will get there.
Mirinda Sandoval is a consulting manager at RevGen. She is passionate about process improvement, digital transformation, customer experience and sales enablement. She has helped many of our clients implement cloud based CRM solutions, enhance their sales processes, and enable teams to work remotely.
Chrissy Winkler is the Vice President of Client Services and leads the business development team at RevGen. She is passionate about driving true business value for clients and selling services that matter.