In times of crisis, you need to plan for the future at the same time you address the challenges of the present. These are certainly interesting times, when the global COVID-19 pandemic has created an economic crisis and turned everyone’s operations upside down.
For many, work has stopped, resulting in 21.5 million Americans filing for unemployment. Businesses across all sectors have been affected by the pandemic, and sales have stalled waiting for the crisis to abate. Now is the time to revisit your sales programs and lay the foundation for sales during and after a crisis.
Your sales have undoubtedly been affected by the current crisis. Your customers have suspended any future purchasing plans and sent employees home to work while waiting for the emergency to pass. You are also probably experiencing canceled contracts, delays in payments, and a lack of response from prospects and customers.
It’s to be expected. However, rather than cutting back and waiting out the crisis, remember that the situation is dynamic and that you need to be prepared for when business rebounds and evolves. You need to maintain sales momentum.
Business Disruption Means New Opportunities
The pandemic is affecting every business differently. Personnel are being asked to work from home, which can affect productivity. Supply chains have been disrupted. Reduced mobility is affecting customer service and support. The old way of doing business is being replaced by new strategies that encourage social distancing and limit personal risk.
To ensure sales after a crisis, you need to identify the opportunities in the moment:
- Digital transformation — Consider the boom in demand for virtual productivity. As companies add technology to support remote workers and customers, they are undergoing a digital transformation that will require new solutions and new approaches that will become part of corporate culture. Enabling these new business processes and customer support channels will create new sales opportunities.
- Customer focus — More than ever, companies are becoming laser-focused on customer support and satisfaction. New sales have stopped, so stepping up customer service is the best way to maintain revenue, stave off the competition, and reduce customer churn.
- Data-driven decision-making — Adapting business to thrive in the new normal requires more data collection and analysis. COVID-19 may be the first data-driven response to a pandemic because researchers worldwide are sharing data to track the spread of the virus and find solutions. Businesses can benefit from the same data gathering and analytics, developing new predictive models to guide strategic decisions.
Having the ability to assess market conditions and customer needs and react quickly allows you to maintain current business and prepare to drive sales after a crisis.
Develop a Revenue Growth Strategy
According to a study by BCG, 14 percent of companies were able to accelerate growth and increase profits during the last economic downturn, including increasing sales by 9 percent. However, turning the crisis into opportunity requires a well-crafted strategy:
- Engage and stabilize — Start by engaging with employees and customers to stabilize operations. Your immediate goal is to maintain your business, including preserving current customers and deals in the pipeline. This starts with ongoing communications with employees about work safety and steps the company is taking on their behalf, as well as well focused customer and partner communications and response.
Consider setting up a dashboard to track all potential issues affecting your sales organization. Monitor customer concerns, supplier issues, at-risk contracts, safety issues, HR problems, and other challenges on a daily basis. Work with customers to assuage their fears and help them through the crisis. Consider renegotiating the terms of their contracts or service-level agreements.
Also, be sure to communicate regularly by email, phone, and video conference. Now is the time to demonstrate how your Customer Success team can be a valuable asset to your customers.
- Create a continuity plan — When you have triaged any immediate concerns, take the time to think through new potential sales challenges before taking next steps. Consider your sales exposure and use data from the field and from the customer team to create predictive models using different scenarios. Then you can determine which tactics will help keep your sales team ahead of the crisis.
Create a plan of action that helps your sales team focus. Consider quick wins and be sure that your team is agile enough to adapt to changes in the sales process. Develop sales sprints that can run parallel to normal sales processes to maintain momentum and generate revenue.
- Reinvent sales — Prepare your team for the new reality. With any crisis comes uncertainty, and they should be prepared to answer customer questions about service levels, contracts, and what they can expect in the coming months.
This is also the time to revise your sales playbook. Reassess your digital sales strategy and identify new ways you can use virtual engagement to attract and support customers. With people working from home, you may need to beef up your digital campaigns.
- Pivot for the new normal — The market will rebound, but it won’t be the same, so be sure to plan for the new normal. Develop new, conservative short-term sales forecasts with lower expectations, as well as forecasts that reflect a recovery. Also adjust time frames for new customer acquisition and upselling.
New customer acquisition will be the priority as the economy recovers, so continue to use field data and refine your marketing and sales strategy to embrace more digital marketing and virtual communications. Remember that sales after a crisis is going to look different, and you need to be ready to pivot as needed.
Outsourcing some or all of your sales should be part of your moving forward sales strategy. Because adaptability is the name of the game, you need to remain agile, and working with the right outsourcing partner makes it easier to adapt to changing market conditions.
By outsourcing, you can increase your market reach and scale capacity without adding overhead. Using a Sales as a Service® provider allows you to ramp quickly to fill a gap in your sales organization. It also makes it easier to expand market reach or target new markets without distracting your sales team from core business.
A Sales as a Service partner can also help you refine your digital marketing and sales program and provide support for lead qualification as well as closing new business. Sales as a Service providers have the sales technology to gather the data needed for predictive analytics, so they can guide sales strategies to promote revenue growth.
No one can prepare in advance for a sudden crisis, but you can prepare for the aftermath of one, including by developing a winning strategy for sales after a crisis. And you don’t have to do it on your own. Working with sales experts like MarketStar can help you develop new successful sales strategies and even increase your revenue even in an economic slump.
To learn more, be sure to download our guide, 5 Outsourcing Strategies for Inside Sales.