In the past few months, the world feels like it’s been turned upside down. And while it’s true there’s no real historic precedent for teams being suddenly told to work from home, this also isn’t the first down market we’ve ever seen.
As a longtime sales leader and consultant to B2B sales leaders and CEOs at companies of various sizes, across various industries, I know teams that stay positive and adapt quickly will survive in a tough economy and come out strong on the other end.
Stay Focused and Keep Sales Strong in a Crisis
Here are my top insights for staying focused and keeping sales strong during tough times.
#1: Communicate a positive message.
Negative attitudes rarely work well in sales. When markets constrict, people’s emotions generally follow. People become fearful and may want to put the brakes on purchases.
It’s important for sales leaders to set the right tone. You need to get your whole company focused on the positive. Make sure positive words flow freely throughout your team. I promise that flow will extend to your customers.
Where you put your attention right now is critical. When people do a good job, recognize them quickly and publicly in your group Zoom meetings. Now is also a good time to send personal notes to people, either by email or text. And, for the foreseeable future, every sale should be a cause for celebration.
Use positive language, imagery, and insights in all your communication with salespeople, colleagues, and customers. This is a small step, but it will pay dividends.
#2: Stay connected to customers and offer heartfelt value-adds.
As you talk to customers during coronavirus fears, check to ensure you’re providing the best customer service possible for their evolving needs. Do they need a refresher on useful features? Would they appreciate a free consultation about a pressing need that comes up? Would they like a referral to a partner for a solution they suddenly need due to current circumstances? The best way to build strong relationships is to stay connected to customers and add value.
As we all adjust to working from home, your digital customer experience is going to be paramount. Are you providing a quick response? Are you using video to communicate? Is your website enabled to be responsive to customers who want to get in touch with you? Are your online transactions secure and optimized? Now is the time to assess where you stand in relation to digital customer experience trends and make sure you’re on the cutting edge.
Your best source of business is expanding offerings to your existing customers. If they’re happy, they’ll continue to buy. If they’re really happy, they’ll be moved to tell everyone they know. Turn your customers into walking advertisements by giving them extraordinary customer service.
#3: Share constructive insights with your team and customers.
Selling is about solutions. Doom and gloom are all around us right now, which means it’s important for salespeople to share constructive insights.
All the media attention on what is going wrong affects the economy more than we realize. There is plenty of good news in your industry to share. Find it and share it with your customers.
Help them understand what is happening in your industry and dispel rumors. Balance bad or alarming news with positive or instructive news. Rather than taking in the constant stream of negative information, look to sources you know and trust (these could include thought leaders, authors, experts, or mentors) to find the good industry news so you can share it with customers and your team.
Be sure to share success stories on an individual level. Where are good things happening with customers and your team right now? What solutions have you uncovered worth sharing? It’s hard to keep worrying or complaining when you’re focused on telling success stories. (Salespeople can also ask for success stories to share when they connect with customers.)
Help everyone look to the future. Look several months ahead to a time when things will be better.
#4: Keeping salespeople focused on selling.
Many salespeople are used to working from home, but are they set up to work from home full time? Will it be easy for them to keep selling with kids at home (and possibly partners or other family members in the house)? As a leader, are you prepared to help salespeople effectively juggle competing priorities and stay focused on selling during social distancing?
Sales leader Michael Weening says that working from home is a leadership test. Among his recommendations: make sure salespeople have a proper headset, webcam, and office setup. Also, consider offering a broadband stipend to help them pay for internet access.
Don’t forget about sales coaching, which is a pillar of sales success. Your salespeople need your help more than ever now. If you don’t have a way to coach them virtually, you’ll need to make that priority. Sales managers need to spend 80% of their time coaching their salespeople to close business. Anything less, and you’ll miss out on revenue opportunities.
The first step is to assess the areas in which your salespeople might need coaching. If you’re not prepared to jump into virtual coaching right now, consider filling the gap with targeted virtual sales training.
Stay Calm and Keep Selling
It can be difficult to stay focused on sales when it seems like everything is uncertain, but it’s not impossible. Remember, your clients and prospects are depending on you. Don’t let them down.
Yes, these are tough times but don’t get stuck worrying or complaining. Find the silver linings. Look ahead to brighter times. Start adapting now if you haven’t already and you’ll increase your sales.
Let’s chat about assessments or questions about virtual coaching on sales process, prospecting, or sales strategy.
Alice is nationally known for her expertise in elevating sales to increase valuation for companies with a B2B complex sale that have exceptional growth potential. She’s originally, from the widely known Miller Heiman Group. Spending her time strategizing with CEOs and their leadership teams to build the strategies that find new business and grow existing accounts is her passion. Her clients love her spirit and the way she energizes their sales organization.