(We are providing this article based on notes from a webinar we participated in from Next Level Strategies, LLC powered by Sales Xceleration on April 24,2020) We support their strategy for sales during this uncertain time and advise our clients to follow these steps.

Now is the time to build a bridge to your customers to move your mindset from “When Can I Sell Again” to “How Do I Sell Now”? Owners who accept the world is changed and adjust to the new way of doing business will be more successful. You need a new way of communicating with your customers to understand what is happening right now and how to pivot.

  • Understand Your Customer.
  • Determine as a team how you can help them (leaving your product/service outside the door)
  • Brainstorm on how your team can help
  •  Then, determine, what can your team do now? What’s reasonable? What’s quick?
  • What can you make money on?
  • What can people buy right now?

When salespeople are struggling to adapt to the new state of sales, as leaders we have to change our message, which will change their mindset. Instead of asking “How can we make a sale today?” or “How are you going to hit your numbers?”, we should be asking “How will our customers be different as a result of doing business with us?” or “What can we do today to help our clients?

Focus the conversation on how your product or service can benefit a prospect or client during this time. You want our sales team to focus on driving revenue that makes them proud when they make their sales calls.

Establish or learn how to better utilize a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM):

Business owners who don’t have visibility into their sales teams’ activities and pipeline are at a real disadvantage.

  • An online based CRM gives everyone access to the same information in real time.
  • It provides accountability of sales activity goals via connecting with Outlook or Gmail to easily track emails, calls, video demo’s, notes, etc.
  • It provides real time visibility of pipeline deals for future revenue, quotes being generated, deals closing, etc.
  • It organizes your sales team, so they never miss an opportunity or forgot to set a follow up for the next stage of the sales process.
  • It eliminates duplicate records and ensures territory and prospect lists are easily assigned.
  • It protects the business owner when salespeople turnover or workforce needs to be reduced.
  • You can quickly reassign a portfolio or lead list and easily see last activity date, conversation, etc. to pick right up where the last person left off.

Start or enforce weekly Sales Meetings:

A best practice is to have a sales meeting once a week, for one hour and have an Agenda so everyone comes prepared with their deliverables.

  • Agenda can include:
  • Quick Check In/Positive News – Focus on morale and have a positive start to the meeting
  • Headlines – Make it interactive by highlighting customer stories. What’s happening? What are customers saying? Keep the conversation focused on the customer’s world.
  • Training – How can we help our customer’s this week? Rotate salespeople each week to share a best practice.
  • Data Scorecard – Review the numbers including Pipeline/Deals Closed/Demo’s Scheduled/New Deals Quoted or Activity metrics (emails/calls),
  • Address the Issues – Identify, discuss and solve issues as a team
  • Reward and Recognition – Always end on a positive note.

How to prevent a revolving door of salespeople:

If turnover has been a problem in the past, you need to not only assess your hiring practices but also need to ensure you have a solid onboarding plan and the proper sales infrastructure to support the salesperson in achieving their goals. Without these sales process fundamentals in place, the sales team is likely to experience turnover. There is A player talent available on the market right now, so if you have a need for salespeople, now is a great time to look at upgrading your sales team talent.

Crisis Planning:

When a crisis hits, traditional sales strategies and methods must adapt. Can these businesses continue selling in a crisis? Yes, but probably not without new ways of operating in the new crisis environment. Leaders need to:

  • Identifying the type and scope of the crisis
  • Determining the likely duration of the crisis
  • Implementing changes to your Sales Plan as necessary (or create one if you don’t have one)
  • Communicate and motivate throughout the crisis
  • Refine your sales plan as necessary during the crisis period

Leadership Strategies to Implement Now:

  1. Overcommunicate – with employees / clients. Don’t be tone deaf and act like nothing’s happened but do it with empathy / compassion and show your team how you’ll move forward.
  2. Coach your Sales Reps – practice video calls, practice phone calls if they were previously used to face to face sales. Encourage using the phone, no one wants another email right now, but people want connection – leverage this opportunity.
  3. If you don’t have a way to forecast your sales, get one. Doesn’t need to be fancy but should give directional idea of what to expect. If you don’t have a CRM, get one.
  4. If you do have a CRM, it’s a good time to clean it up and make it work for you, instead of the other way around, optimize reports, get realistic about what deals will be delayed.
  5. Leverage the team to work on the company “Sales Plan” if you don’t have one. Look at sales goals and adjust accordingly to not lose motivation if quarterly and annual goals are slipping away.

Most companies have inefficiencies in their sales processes. You should position yourself now for the recovery by implementing the missing pieces of your Sales Plan now to ensure your stakeholders; employees, suppliers and customers continue viewing you as a leader in your field. So, I encourage you all to make the investment to put the right sales infrastructure in place to hire, train and grow your company sales.

In your Recovery Sales Plan, you should have clear goals/quotas, a compensation plan to incent the right behavior, a clearly defined and documented sales process, sales activity goals, a CRM to manage your customers and prospects, and of course your Pipeline and Key Performance Indicators. And a weekly Sales Meeting to keep your team informed, connected and motivated.

Leaders must take fear off the table! We have to lead our sales teams focus away from the internal dialogue of worry and fear and focus them outward on the customer. Don’t underestimate the power of having a “purpose” as this will keep your team focused on helping customers and drive revenue that makes them proud. The best way to increase value as leaders is to maintain positivity and have a solid sales strategy.