Most of Europe and the United States has been in a state of response to the novel Coronavirus pandemic for a while now, and most of us are settling into a new sense of “normal.”
For sales teams, the new “normal” probably includes a lot more working from home, a good deal less travel, and, in many cases, working harder and smarter for the same (or lesser) results, due to a global economy that is in shock mode.
There is very little that is certain about this situation, but one thing that is almost always true: For every decline, there is a bounce-back. And those who are best positioned to manage the bounce-back will be the ones who benefit most from it.
Here’s how to prepare your sales team now for the bounce-back after this crisis.
Hopefully, your sales team is spending a lot of time these days talking with customers about what’s going on for them. You should be gathering this as data (in a structured way) so that you can adjust your sales strategy around customer needs and behavior. Also, remember the importance of empathy in times like this!
A customer-focused strategy is always important to a sales organization, but in these times when everyone is examining their budgets and looking for ways to do more with less money, it’s especially critical to make sure that you are on-point.
Based on your customer-focused strategy, review the sales process your salespeople use and adjust it to accommodate your new understanding and best practices for the current environment. Make adjustments to your sales teams' workflows fast, including messaging about why the extra steps are needed, and instructions on how to do them well.
I’ve been preaching for a long time that process should be embedded in the salesperson’s workflow. This is even more important than ever, as situations change quickly.
Your sales team needs a shared language and a shared process, and they need to have it reinforced in their workflows.
You can’t rely on the individual memories of each team member to keep up with the latest developments in your best practices and skillsets. If you've had problems with sales process in the past, please read this blog post.
Sales tools are a major source of hidden overspending in sales organizations. Take the time to review your entire sales stack and eliminate tools that are not returning on your investment and/or don’t support your business processes.
Review your central tool, the CRM, and make sure that it meets these criteria:
This could be a good time to consider whether using an overly complex, cumbersome CRM just because it’s the “done thing” is still right for you. The CRM decision you made years back was probably the right one back then, but is it the right one today, and in the future?
In times like these, “consider the people on your team” has several levels. First and foremost, remember that your salespeople are humans with human emotions, and this may be a difficult time for them. Have your coaches and managers check in on the people in their line of report and connect with them on a human level. Try to provide as much support and reassurance as you can. Besides being the right thing to do, this approach will be beneficial to your bottom line. People who feel secure and supported will perform better and bounce back better.
Second, take the time to review whether you have the right people in the right seats. Times like these can force difficult personnel decisions. As much as possible, make those decisions from a place of clarity about the correct fit for each role, which roles are necessary for stability, growth, and expansion, and not from a place of emotion or fear.
Then make sure that the people on your team are supported by the training, coaching, and enablement you provide.
As tempting as it is to draw back on training and coaching during difficult times, that is the wrong approach if you want to come back strong. Your team needs new skills and encouragement in order to continue to perform in this new environment.
Training should be aligned with your new strategies and processes, and it should be reinforced in coaching and in the CRM. Coaching, in turn, should be aligned with training. Make sure you are providing your coaches with the data and tools to see where their coaching time can best be used and how best to approach each salesperson on their team.
Most of us are now working from home. Many of us have been for a long time, but others may be more accustomed to an office environment. Working from home presents many challenges. Among them is the difficulty of executing new strategies, processes, training, and coaching when your team is remote and/or widespread, and when you can’t just bring them into the office for training.
This is the time to take the budget you’re saving on all those technology tools you don’t actually need and invest it in getting yourself online, and partnering with trainers who can help you with this. Our product, Membrain, was designed and built to serve remote sales teams in exactly these ways, to get everyone rowing in the same direction, and I’d love to show you how. Our partners use our product to help their clients train, manage, and coach remote teams.
However you do it, it’s critical that you be prepared to manage every aspect of your team and their performance online for the foreseeable future.
Long, long gone are the days when you can develop a master plan and expect it to remain unchanged until the next year’s annual planning meeting.
You must be prepared to be flexible, agile, and able to execute new strategies and processes across widespread teams at a moment’s notice.
Your technology should be flexible, customizable, online, and capable of fully enabling your sales force with access to everything they need to perform their best.
I’d love to hear how you’re approaching each of these topics, and what you’re doing to prepare your sales team to bounce back. Let’s talk.
George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.
Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn