5 Steps Sales Leaders should take during COVID-19.

In a recent survey of sales and marketing leaders done by Challenger Inc. the majority of respondents noted that they believe it may take the economy 4.5 months before business returns to normal. Leading Economists also indicate an extended lag impacting Q3 resulting from:

  1. Generally slower business cycles coming into the summer months,

  2. Decreased purchasing power due to stale revenue generation

  3. The socioeconomic impact of a population that has been under social quarantine for 40-60 days,

  4. That socioeconomic impact combined with government and health agencies looking to mitigate a second wave of COVID-19 outbreak.

Given the deferral of Q1 and Q2 revenue that may be deferred or not captured during the back half of the year companies should start considering the following 5 actions to ensure that they can weather the storm.

1) Engage High Performers

Never is the Pareto Principle – that 80% of the incremental output comes from 20% of the team – more acute than in times of crisis. Sales leaders must make their best sellers feel rewarded, appreciated, and amply prepared to continue doing their best, every day.

Communicate expectations: good treatment starts with resetting to realistic expectations.

Rethink Incentives: if your business is struggling, you will want to consider signaling adjustments to quota expectations and commission plans as soon as you can.

Forge meaningful digital connections: provide more regular coaching to show you are invested in the deals your team is working and the skills and strategies they will need to close them.

2) Rethink Your Account Plans

The crisis affecting businesses differently. Some industries are at a standstill while others are flourishing. Presenting the wrong message or the wrong solution in this emotionally charged environment could damage credibility and make repairing that relationship nearly impossible.

Identify viability of existing relationships: sellers must listen closely to what customers are saying and double-down on those relationships that currently require the most attention.

Confirm customer needs: acutely listening to customers needs now rather than pitching a vision of what they need.

Provide tactical support: guiding customers to understand where opportunities are possible and where they are not.

3) Review Coverage

After evaluating your account plans, you may find it necessary to pursue new markets and new customers to generate as much revenue as possible.

Identify hot spots: focus attention and limit distractions in the territories containing your key accounts.

Reallocate staff: focus your best hunters generating new business in the customer segments that offer the greatest promise in the current market environment. Position relevant product expertise appropriately in territories with the best cross sell / upsell potential.

4) Align Insights

Your ability to offer meaningful, actionable commercial insight to your customers will be central to your success.

Test new insights: prioritize the problems that are affecting the core of your customers business and tailor a message that is based in fact and delivered with empathy. Ensuring your path to business improvement is crystal clear.

5) Remove Friction

Nearly all B2B sales organizations now find themselves needing to manage complex deals exclusively in a virtual environment. The same is true of the buying process executed by your prospective customers. An ounce of understanding/flexibility/ patience goes a long way to creating momentum and maintaining positive relationships with prospects.

Rethink processes: as companies find new ways to conduct business, purchase behaviours are bound to shift. In this environment, it may be necessary to temporarily relax your expectations of how business “should” be done.

Unclog the bureaucracy: in times of stress, buying decisions always move up in seniority. In this environment, it becomes ever more important to identify the right mobilizer with the motive, and budget, to be able to rally behind a purchase.

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