A recently conducted online survey of senior sales leaders by Sales Xceleration, a consulting company, shows the impact recent events have had on sales organizations across the United States. A remarkable 93.4 percent of the respondents report that they have been affected by it. More than three out of four of them represent small to mid sized businesses earning less than $100 million in annual revenue. (Almost 40 percent made less than $5 million per year.) These are the types of organizations that are typically least able to survive economic slow downs or catastrophic events like forced business closures.
Despite the fact that recent changes have impacted sales organizations in a major way, according to the survey most have taken little or no action to address the issues they’re facing.
- More than half do not have a strategy — or plan to create one — for selling in the brave new world ahead.
- Just over a third have adjusted sales goals — and related compensation plans — for their salespeople.
The numbers show that many sales leaders are acting like ostriches in the face of a crisis. Many are burying their heads in the sand, not dealing with today’s realities and those they may face in the future.
This could leave them vulnerable. In 2010, after the recovery from the great recession was underway, Harvard Business Review conducted extensive research on the impact past recessions had on businesses. It analyzed what happened to 4,700 companies over the three recessions prior to 2008.
- 17 percent of the organizations studied did not make it through a recession
- Four out of five had not regained their pre-recession growth rate three years after the recession
- Two out of five had not returned to the same revenue and profit levels three years after the recession.
Only one out of ten outperformed competitors by at least ten percent in revenue and profit growth. These are typically companies that had taken steps to prepare for more challenging times.
So, what should sales leaders do in the face of challenges ahead? Here are some initial steps you can take toward building a sales organization that’s prepared to survive and thrive in the brave new world of selling.
Go online to learn what’s really going on with your buyers.
You may not be able to meet with prospects and clients in person, but you can find out what’s on their minds online.
At a time when people can’t connect much beyond Zoom meetings, many are sharing a lot about themselves in social media. Monitor your clients’ Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social profiles to get a sense of what they’re thinking and feeling. It’s a good way to gather insights that will help you adjust your marketing messages and sales approach so they’re more sensitive to your buyers.
Assume remote selling will continue long into the future.
Even as businesses begin to reopen, experts don’t expect selling to return to normal any time soon, if ever.
Traditional sales presentations don’t work when buyers are remote and they aren’t as focused on business as usual. Instead, arm your reps with interactive experiences that help them take a more collaborative approach to virtual sales. They’ll keep people engaged and help close more deals even if you’re selling long distance.
Not sure how to create effective interactive sales support experiences? Mobile Locker’s app makes it easy and intuitive to develop them quickly. Contact a friendly and helpful rep to find out more.
Encourage your team to collaborate.
No one gets through an emergency or crisis alone. It takes a team, leveraging all the best ideas and practices of each of its members.
Ask your sales reps to work closely together to identify the best ways to sell your products and services based on today’s new realities. Any new insights could turn into a fresh value proposition, new marketing messages, different ways to approach selling or simpler, paperless ways to onboard clients.
Mobile Locker’s app makes it easy for reps to share information with each other even when working off site, and even offline.
Don’t forget the numbers.
Of course, feelings are important during times like these. Acknowledging and addressing them is the only way to connect with buyers and make sales.
However, you can’t completely forget about metrics and goals if you want to be successful. Take time to review your organization’s current revenue realities. Gain an understanding of your cash flow, including any government support you’ve received during the last few months, and the limits you may face selling now and through the end of the year. Then readjust your budgets and goals so the people on your sales team clearly know what they need to achieve.
Recessions can be good opportunities to press the reset button. Don’t be afraid to make changes that will help your business survive and succeed.
Don’t give up on live, in-person events.
Many are predicting the end of live events. However, humans are hot-wired for person-to-person interactions.
It will take time for trade shows, events and conferences to happen again, but once people start to feel comfortable gathering together and interacting, they’ll be back. Virtual events may be an interim step prior to the discovery of a vaccination for coronavirus or some type of cure.
Keep an eye out for what event marketing will transition into in the future so you’re prepared for when they restart.
Embrace virtual training and coaching.
When things are changing, sales reps need information and training on how to update their tactics to respond to evolving customer mindsets. The issue: Training can’t happen in person when people aren’t allowed to gather in groups.
Virtual training helps firms succeed despite today’s social distancing challenges. It gets information to sales reps in real time so they can use it in real-world sales situations right away. Start by regularly communicating with your reps and giving them information they can use. If you can’t develop your own content, there’s plenty of information about current buyer mindsets, sales tactics and more available online that you can share right away. Find out how Mobile Locker’s app makes it easy to get information to your reps and ensure they take advantage of it.
Tip: It’s likely your reps are finding new ways to sell every day. Mobile Locker’s app allows them to share what’s working with everyone on your team so they can all benefit from the learnings. It’s a form of virtual coaching, where people with more experience and information pass it on to those who need it.
Bring in fresh talent.
During recessions some talented people who might not otherwise be available find themselves without work. Many young people, fresh out of college, are unable to find their first jobs.
If you have any flexibility in your sales budget, allocate some dollars for hiring new reps. Offering them limited pay-for-results contracts is a cost-effective way to test them out and see how they fit within your current team. People hired during times like these often become the most loyal employees.
Tip: Have an on boarding program ready for when you hire new people. It will help them be productive starting on day one. Mobile Locker’s app makes it easy to distribute sales training and monitor progress toward completion.
Don’t let today’s economic realities get you down. It’s critical that you take action now to make changes that will help you make it through the recession and come out of it better than ever. Contact a Mobile Locker rep to find out how you can get started.