Top 3 COVID-19 Initiatives for Sales Leaders
by Patricia Lundy
There is a great amount of uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and how the effects will last far beyond the peak of the virus outbreak. Supporting your sales teams in the midst of these changes is a top concern for sales leaders—who need to take action now.
Changes in customer expectations, business models, and reliance on sales enablement technologies is only the beginning. This blog post will outline the top 3 initiatives to focus on now and for the coming year.
Take Your Sales Teams Completely Digital
Your SDRs and other members of your teams may feel comfortable selling remotely, but building strong relationships with customers is traditionally based on face-to-face interactions. Even with video conferencing, this marks a drastic departure from what many sales professionals are used to: visiting customers in person.
Aragon predicts by the end of year 2021, 80% of sales organizations will change their culture of selling from largely face-to-face to primarily remote/digital by leveraging the enhanced use of communications and collaboration technologies.
New ways of engagement need to be fostered. While having a video conferencing platform is a good starting point, sales leaders must invest in a sales enablement platform (SEP). SEPs allow sales professionals to engage with customers in a multitude of ways (email, messaging, video, content-sharing) and get insights on the customer’s level of engagement. They’re also key for managers, who can see which sales reps may be struggling.
Realize That Your Customers Have Already Adapted to a New Normal
Customers have already changed their buying patterns due to the restrictions brought on by the pandemic. Online orders, such as via Amazon, have surged dramatically. People are growing more comfortable conducting meetings, webinars, and classes online. Food delivery has overtaken dining-in at restaurants.
Aragon predicts these changes in behavior will be part of the new normal. Industries such as banking, insurance, healthcare, retail, entertainment, and more will be affected. The demand for personalized and engaging experiences regardless of a customer’s physical or virtual context will significantly increase due to the pandemic, according to VP Research Betsy Burton.
Your sales team can no longer operate as ‘business as usual.’ What worked in a pre-COVID-19 world may no longer serve a strategic purpose any longer. Using a sales enablement platform can help your teams create personalized journeys with timely content for customers based on their unique preferences and behavior—which will make them more likely to engage with your business.
Increase Support for Sales Managers
The pressure on managers to manage remote staff effectively will increase, and teams will have to use even more tools than they already do to enable this work, says analyst Jim Lundy. This pressure will mean sales leaders should look to add new best practices for sales managers.
One of the most important action-items for sales leaders is giving managers additional training on how to manage teams virtually. New standards such as regularly scheduled 1:1s between managers and their team members are essential, especially for under-performers. Managers should also set aside extra time to run through role-plays with reps who are struggling.
Sales organizations must be prepared for the workplace changes that will continue to evolve alongside the state of COVID-19. As customers change their business strategies and business models, sales teams will need to adjust their own selling models accordingly. Sales leaders who have equipped their teams to engage with customers completely virtually will be the ones who succeed.