As many companies struggle to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis, it’s not surprising that sales are down in a range of industries. Even as states begin to reopen certain segments of their economies, much remains uncertain. Understandably, many sales professionals are unsure how to keep selling during and after this crisis.
A global pandemic, a recession, or any other widespread crisis is not the time for a business-as-usual sales approach. Instead, it’s a chance to take stock of your challenges and opportunities, and reset your sales strategy to address the situation at hand.
Time for a New Approach
In all likelihood, your customers and prospects are looking to cut costs and hunker down, at least to some degree, until the worst of the COVID-19 crisis is behind us. A recent PwC survey found that 81 percent of CFOs anticipate that their company revenues and profits will decline in 2020. Of those surveyed, 86 percent are planning to implement cost-containment measures, while 70percent are delaying or canceling planned investments.
This all means that your sales strategy from just a few months ago probably has very little bearing on the present moment. In fact, sticking to your pre-crisis approach could actually be detrimental. For example:
- Your customers may feel like you aren’t adjusting to their current needs.
- Referencing pre-crisis goals and KPIs might leave your sales team feeling discouraged.
- Targeting certain prospects might actually turn them off right now.
Considerations for Your Reset
Selling during a crisis is challenging, but it’s possible. Consider these changes to reset your sales strategy today and after the COVID-19 pandemic:
Hope for the best, plan for the worst
Although we all want this crisis to be over as soon as possible, it may take many months before the world is back to some semblance of normal. In fact, the same PwC survey found that nearly 50 percent of CFOs are planning for an extended recovery period that will last well into next year. So as you strategize, plan for the worst and remember that we may be in this situation for quite a while. Amid all this uncertainty, a realistic plan may reassure you and your team without creating false hope.
Shelve your 2020 plans and goals
Instead of trying to stick to your yearly (or even quarterly) plans, take stock of where you are right now. Assess what your customers need from you and try to project how their needs might evolve during this crisis. Then, start by making a weekly (or even daily) plan that you can adapt as things change.
Ask yourself and your team how you can be there for your customers. Think outside the box. After all, this is an unprecedented situation, and every business and individual has been impacted in some way. Consider how you might assist customers in new and creative ways; Look for new opportunities and be ready to adjust quickly.
We’re not saying to take advantage of the crisis and the accompanying fear and uncertainty. Instead, explore how you can offer value to your customers in new ways and build relationships that will outlast this crisis. Maybe you could establish a Customer Success team to help them maintain revenue. Or give customers a discount for prepaying for 12 months or more (which is a win-win right now). Tweak your service offering to align with their current needs. Or look for prospects that you never considered but might now benefit from your products or services. You never know what new opportunities might help you get through this time.
Be transparent with your team
During and after the crisis, consider being even more communicative with your team than usual. If a team member leaves the company or there are layoffs, be sure to address it and share as much information as you are able. Take some time to recap what happened during the crisis, how you responded, what worked, and what didn’t. This will give your sales team some much-needed closure and get them ready to move past this stressful time.
As your team returns to normal, you will want to once again reset your strategy, as well as your goals, KPIs, and plan. Be sure to thank your team for their efforts during the crisis. As they get back into their typical sales mode, make it a point to regularly celebrate wins and stay in close touch with each employee to ensure that they are able to adjust.
Consider outsourcing as an option
Another powerful option for resetting your sales strategy, both during and after a crisis, is to outsource select sales functions, such as lead qualification. A Sales as a ServiceⓇ provider can also provide support as you shift your strategy during COVID-19 and can help you ramp back up for when the crisis recedes.
Outsourcing sales is a proven way to help build and maintain sales momentum through the worst of times.