Top 3 COVID-19 Initiatives for Sales Leaders
last updated December 14th, 2020
by Patricia Lundy
Taking your customers to dinner is a thing of a bygone era—at least for the time being. With the COVID-19 vaccine distribution underway, that may start to change in mid 2021, but it’s safe to say that digital selling is the future. Supporting your sales teams in the right way 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 right now so that you’re prepared for 2021.
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 next year, 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.
Ask yourself: is your sales team comfortable using video? Do they hop on conferencing calls but neglect to turn their camera on? I’ve been on many video calls as a client myself where my account manager never showed their face—it’s a missed opportunity. As a sales leader, you should know the answers to these questions, otherwise you risk missing an opportunity for positive client engagement.
While having a video conferencing platform is a given in today’s digital workplace, you can’t forget about 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 have surged dramatically—just look at how much shipping times have been delayed this holiday season. People are growing more comfortable conducting meetings, webinars, and classes online. Food delivery has overtaken dining-in at restaurants—and in many locations, it’s currently the only option.
Aragon predicts these changes in behavior will be part of the new normal. Even with the vaccine distributed, it will be a while before restrictions ease to completely lax conditions and the majority of people feel comfortable going back to some semblance of their old routines. 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.
Check-in with your managers. How are they doing? How are their teams doing? Ask them what they need from you, whether it be more training, coaching, or a technology that’s missing from their arsenal.
Your sales organization must be prepared for the workplace changes that will continue to evolve alongside the state of COVID-19. Next year will be a year of waiting-and-seeing—the only thing we can depend on for certain is that going completely digital is dependable, and customers are getting more and more comfortable with it.
As your customers change their business strategies and business models, your sales teams will need to adjust their own selling models accordingly if they haven’t already. It starts with checking in with your teams and seeing how you can better support them.