selling

Selling during a crisis

by Mike Lockert

The drastic economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business is changing everything about how we do business, and it’s demanding those changes happen fast. In a recent survey conducted by Salesforce, the biggest areas of impact for partner businesses are cash flow, sales, and marketing. Over 55 percent of those organizations have had to adjust revenue targets and over 37 percent are adjusting individual sales quotas. 

But you don’t need to hear more stats—the reality of a pandemic-riddled economy is evident, and we’re all living in it. What’s next is trying to find ways to move forward despite the ongoing obstacles and remaining uncertainties. One big question is looming for many businesses: how do we sell in this global environment? With the routines and daily lives of so many businesses and customers disrupted, is there room for cold calls, demonstrations, or the hard sell? 

It depends on how you approach it. And that’s exactly why sensitivity and personalization have never been more crucial in your sales reps. 

So, to kickstart your sales ops and bring new life into your business, we’ve compiled six strategies your organization’s sales team should consider moving forward. Because, as our world slowly starts to reopen and rebuild, it’s also a great time to reinvent. 

 

Lead with understanding 

First and foremost, it is critical that your sales strategy is leading with empathy at this time. Situations and challenges vary widely, and you never know if the person you’re trying to close a deal with has something going on in the personal background deterring them from hearing your pitch. A good way to start any conversation with a prospect is to just ensure that it’s an okay time to talk and to talk empathetically. 

Additionally, make sure your sales messaging has pivoted to a crisis-relevant and customer-focused narrative. Just think: how do we want to be remembered as a company operating during this unprecedented time? Meet customers where they are, focus on listening, and build a relationship. Whether this turns into a business opportunity right now or not, the relationships and respect formed now will yield returns down the road. 

 

Align all initiatives

Another key to selling during this crisis is maintaining strong alignment across all company departments. At least 86 percent of employees cite poor communication and collaboration as the source of workplace failures. Don’t let the shuffle of poor alignment threaten your business processes at such a critical business juncture as this. A good tactic to avoid that kind of disastrous misalignment is to put every pandemic-related company initiative from every department—legal, sales, marketing, business development, pricing, finance, etc.—in one central location. Create a go-to library so that sales reps 1) are aware of relevant customer outreach in regards to COVID-19 and 2) can leverage these initiatives when appropriate for their leads. 

This alignment will make sure every detail is accounted for and every person is on the same page about how the company is handling business in this unique situation. Creating this aligned, central library also makes it easier for your own business to get back to work and find its organizational footing while recovering. 

 

Design dynamic content

The worldwide reaction to COVID-19 has ushered in another global phenomenon: a sudden, mandatory shift to everything online and digital. This creates a valuable opportunity to design and promote impactful, dynamic content as sales collateral. Virtual training sessions, webinars, workshops, classrooms, etc. are all unique ways to sell despite the sudden absence of in-person networking.

Throughout your efforts to create engaging content, it’s critical that your company doubles down on proving your business value. Make sure every piece of collateral leaves the audience with an understanding of what problem your company can solve. The more tangible you make this message with metrics, stats, and testimonials, the better. 

 

Identify tech needs

The technology we use in our day-to-day, personal lives just took on double duty for many of us. Working from home means using at-home technology, power, workspaces, and more and more or less converting your living space to also double as office space. Empowering both your sales team and your customers with the right technology to make that transition easier is another good way to sell better during times of crisis. 

You can become your customers’ go-to digital advisor on anything and everything related to your industry. Going back to dynamic content, utilize virtual meeting technology to connect with customers and learn more about their situation. How can your organization’s products or services ease the obstacles they’re facing or take one thing off their long list of worries? 

In the Salesforce ecosystem, many partners and apps have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by leveraging their expertise and talent into new product offerings. Simplus is proud to be among those innovating creative new service offerings to adapt to our customers’ unique needs at this time: 

– We’ve launched Salesforce Quick Wins to help companies maximize their Salesforce investments and get more bang for their buck by providing short-term engagements with our award-winning Managed Services—we’ve even waived the client onboarding fees to get started faster

– Our Adoption Health Checks are another quick and easy way we are providing value to our clients at this time. Within a week, our change management team can provide customers with an adoption report and analysis to pinpoint areas for improvement in the organization’s Salesforce user engagement. The end user experience is top of mind for our change management experts, and they’re certified in Salesforce and Prosci so they know exactly what to look for. 

– Finally, Simplus’ Remote Work Consulting services are another area of extra support Simplus is able to provide during this unique situation. We’ve been a remote workforce from the start, and we know how to digitally support the emerging workplace configurations many companies are adapting to. Whether you’re scaling, maturing, or just setting up your remote workforce, Simplus has the experience to help your company adjust. You can learn more about our remote work consulting here or start learning with our on-demand webinar series “Going Remote.” 

Take a cue from some of these unique innovations and consider what distinct IP, services, or support your company can provide during this time. 

 

Work top-down

Critical to everything we’ve discussed so far and to maintaining these new sales strategies long-term is executive sponsorship. It’s important that your sales team has someone at the highest levels advocating for the new tools, methods, and messaging your sales team needs at this time. Once you have executive agreement and support, the new best practices for selling during a crisis have the foundation they need to spread. 

Beginning with the head of sales and then running down the sales hierarchy, every sales leader needs to coach those under their leadership to adopt these new practices. However, the most effective way to teach this is not just a one-and-done meeting with some nice slides. It’s going to take hands-on experience and a “show them don’t tell them” approach. Let your sales reps see the proper way to listen, lead with empathy, and value-sell your organization’s solutions. And watch as over time your sales department thrives with new opportunities. 

 

Take the chance to reinvent

Finally, it’s important that salespeople recognize the hidden opportunity behind all the uncertainty and disruption the world is currently experiencing. Now is the time for businesses to reinvent themselves and connect with their customers on a deeper level by revolutionizing their organization’s focus on the customer. 

Your sales team can own every phase of the customer lifecycle by creating an omnichannel and personalized customer experience. Perhaps it’s time to evolve your company playbook and re-align on your infinite purpose: what do you provide of value to customers? How does that connect to customers on a personal, intrinsic level? What meaning does your organization create? Answering these questions and taking the steps to truly lean in and focus on the customer will create the option to reinvent as a company and deliver better customer experiences. 

 

Sales may seem near impossible in the current situation. But given the right strategies—like empathy, alignment, dynamic content, proper tech, executive support, and attention to new opportunities—sales can continue on. Stronger, faster, and more personal than it ever was before

 

Mike Lockert - SQMike is the Chief Revenue Officer of Simplus. A strong sales leader with a love for sales strategy, business development, goal achievement, and talent development, Mike is credited with building strong relationships with sales teams to drive strategy and deliver results. Mike has had consistent success as an individual contributor and sales leader in the Fortune 2000 market and with the “C” level executives that drive them. Mike is experienced in software solutions and professional services and focused on the success of our company and the goals of our clients

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