Get Back to Better

A COVID-19 Response Guide For Sales Leaders

Most sales leaders want to “get back to normal”. Dare to believe that you can emerge better from the COVID-19 pandemic. There are steps sales and marketing leaders need to take to keep their team functional. What happens after that?

The normal that all of us want to get back to will no longer exist. No economy has ever emerged the same from a crisis. In times of immense change, businesses have to adapt or diminish. Those who adapt successfully will thrive in a new economy. There are three steps to a thriving response:

Whether you already work remotely or not, the work environment has changed for everyone. There are steps you have to take to keep your team functional.

Your customers are also facing rapid and unknown changes. They need your help. Go beyond your normal standards of customer service.

Change brings obstacles and opportunities. Businesses need new solutions for new problems. Make sure your team is primed to capture new logos.

1
Stay Functional

Most sales leaders have made the adjustments for their team to work from home. For Inside Sales leaders, the technology transition won’t be as difficult to manage however, there are still potential pitfalls for Inside Sales teams’ transition to working from home.

More than half of the salesforce are still Field Sales reps. For those individuals, the transition could be sudden and dramatic. Regardless of the makeup of your sales team, sales and marketing leaders have to do a few things to make sure their team remains functional.

Provide Absolute Task Clarity

  • Sellers are working in a new environment and so are buyers. Task clarity has never been more important. This is not the time to fixate on results. Rather, sales leaders have to provide absolute clarity on the activities that their sellers are expected to execute.
  • Similar to how a pilot has a checklist before a flight, it’s a good idea to provide your team with a check list of activities they should cross off each week or each day.

Help Your Team Replicate The Work Environment

  • The work environment has a profound impact on a worker’s morale and ability to their jobs. The intangible social bonds and office routines foster an environment for productivity that can be lost when the environment is changed.
  • Sales leaders should also partner up team members and have them check in on each other. These check-ins should be social in nature and can go a long way in creating a healthy work environment at home.
  • Make sure your team has the technology and tools they need to do their job. This is the first step towards replicating the work environment. Then, encourage your sellers to create a separate space for their work in their homes, if possible. When home and business life blends, home life wins so it’s important to try and physically separate those spaces.

Check-In More Often

  • Sales leaders have to increase communication with each member of their team. Leaders should be checking in with individuals on their team at least once a week.
  • It’s important that in these check-ins, you start at the personal level. Your team members are in a new environment so it’s your job to make sure they feel comfortable. After the personal check-in, keep your focus on coaching and providing task clarity.
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Coach and Influence Existing Deals

  • The work environment has a profound impact on a worker’s morale and ability to their jobs. The intangible social bonds and office routines foster an environment for productivity that can be lost when the environment is changed.
  • Sales leaders should also partner up team members and have them check in on each other. These check-ins should be social in nature and can go a long way in creating a healthy work environment at home.
  • Make sure your team has the technology and tools they need to do their job. This is the first step towards replicating the work environment. Then, encourage your sellers to create a separate space for their work in their homes, if possible. When home and business life blends, home life wins so it’s important to try and physically separate those spaces.

Calendar Your Activities

  • Sales leaders have to increase communication with each member of their team. Leaders should be checking in with individuals on their team at least once a week.
  • It’s important that in these check-ins, you start at the personal level. Your team members are in a new environment so it’s your job to make sure they feel comfortable. After the personal check-in, keep your focus on coaching and providing task clarity.
  • It’s important that in these check-ins, you start at the personal level. Your team members are in a new environment so it’s your job to make sure they feel comfortable. After the personal check-in, keep your focus on coaching and providing task clarity.

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2
Reassure Customers

Your customers are also facing a whirlwind of change and uncertainty. In times of change, you have to keep your customers reassured and happy. Changes also create new priorities for your clients so there is a window for your competition to swoop in.

That will not happen if you take measures to draw in your existing clients. Here are four measures you can implement as a sales leader:

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Offer Help However You Can

  • More than half of your customers want to know what you and your company is doing in response to COVID-19. Customers want to know how you can help them. Some companies are offering free use of certain functionalities. What can you offer your customers to help them at this time?
  • Even if there is nothing directly you can do for customers for free, they still want to know how you are helping and engaging in your community. This is a great time to build trust and good will with your clients.
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Get In Touch With Your Customers

  • People may be physically isolated, but we are more socially connected than ever before. Utilize all the channels at your disposal (Twitter, LinkedIn, Email, Phone, etc.) to drop a note and check in on your clients.
  • When you first reach out to clients, treat it as a call to schedule a call. Don’t assume you will talk about business. Relate to them on a personal level and empathize with their situation. Then determine whether it would be helpful to schedule a call to talk about business priorities.
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Align New Client Priorities With The Solution

  • Businesses buy solutions because they have specific objectives they are trying to achieve. Those goals are most likely different now. What priorities are top of mind for your clients?
  • Your sales team needs to uncover this information and do their best to adjust the solution to fit new priorities. The shift in goals leaves room for your customers to engage with your competitors. Get ahead of that by reaching out to customers and being the first one to counsel them during these turbulent times.
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Make Renewals Easier Than Before

  • Churn is a problem for most B2B companies. Given the decrease in new opportunities, it is even more important to retain existing customers. Many businesses are looking to cut costs; your clients are likely no exception.
  • Your company should already have an intuitive and easy infrastructure for renewal. If you do not, now is the time to reinforce your renewal process. Your customers should not face any level of friction when they are trying to renew their business with you.
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Your team should be proactive in discovering changes in the client’s business.

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3
Differentiate

The first two steps are mostly about staying afloat as a business. No business exists to barely survive. Every sales leader wants sales to flourish and their sales funnels to be packed with opportunities.

A massive change is causing the disruption in business but that same change is also presenting key opportunities. Businesses have to adapt and if you adapt with innovation and strategy, you have an opportunity to clearly differentiate within your market.

As a sales leader, the best thing you can do right now to differentiate against your competition is to enhance your sales team’s skills and processes. Here are four reasons why that’s the case:

Provides Task Clarity For Your Team

Task clarity is vital but often hard to provide. This is especially true when there is a slow down in sales. Sales leaders can’t just tell their team to do more. If you keep your team focused on training, that gives sellers something great to do every day. Training will provide them with tasks that are controllable. That will give sellers a sense of accomplishment.

Builds Team Camaraderie During Isolation

Sales leaders can implement frequent check-ins and encourage social hang outs over the web but a sense of collegiality will be lost when sellers work from home. Engaging in a common activity together is the best way for any group of people to build camaraderie. Training provides the whole team a common objective and set of tasks to rally around.

Your Competitors Won’t Invest

It’s easy to get reactive in a time of crisis so most sales leaders will do just that. They will take the first two steps to keep the team afloat and settle until we all “get back to normal.”

Be the sales leader who dares to envision a more successful future after climbing out of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are one of the few sales leaders who are able to galvanize their team and take steps to differentiate yourself during the downturn, you will beat out your competition and win new business.

Your Customers Require Sales Excellence

All sales teams strive to be counselors but it’s no longer a nice to have. Business and government leaders are dealing with enormous change and challenges. They need a true counselor more than ever before. Your team needs the skills to differentiate themselves as peers and advisors during every interaction they have with their prospects.

If you are deciding what sort of training to focus on, there’s a formula to help you figure it out.

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The Looming Question: When Should My Team Start Prospecting Again?

People around the world are making sacrifices to cope with COVID-19. Due to the magnitude and impact of this event, your team might have stopped prospecting for a little while.

Businesses have now gotten past the initial shock of this pandemic. There are still a lot of hardships and will be for a long time. This may discourage sellers from prospecting but the reality is that businesses will have to pick up again.

Approach prospects with empathy and do your homework but know if your team isn’t prospecting, the competition probably is. Put your team on a path to success.

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Don’t miss our extensive guide to prospecting best practices:

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