How to Successfully Lead Your Sales Team in the COVID-19 Pandemic
By now, there is no company whose sales haven’t been affected by COVID-19. Some businesses halted their operations while others were shut down – There is a rapid decline in sales in every company.
The sales promotions you painstakingly designed are not relevant to the customer’s new lives. Every sales pitch is now online, and the sales plan you created in January is now obsolete.
It’s now more important than ever to give salespeople hope. Adapting to the new system might not be easy for the sales team, but it is the need of the moment.
Just like every coin has two sides, troubled times also bring a fair share of opportunities. Organizations that will adapt to changes and tailor their processes based on feedback and insights will have a chance to win new customers and markets.
Follow these management tips to boost your team’s morale and help them deal with the sales process during a tough time.
1. Improve Your Sales Feedback System
Sales are all about numbers. If the numbers are low, it means that the strategy is not working. For a sales organization, it is essential to keep an eye on customer feedback.
What are the new concerns of customers, and how fast can you satisfy them? Ask yourself before taking any consequent steps. An organization that prioritizes and resolves these concerns will emerge as winners in the post-COVID economy.
This can only be done with a proper feedback loop. The marketing messages and the sales process must be fine-tuned as per the customer’s praises and criticisms.
Within the organization, leaders must provide constructive feedback to improve the performance of employees. Leaders should have regular touchpoints with their employees and make them feel more connected with their team as well as their organization.
They should also listen to their team members and identify ways to resolve issues. An employee may face unique challenges adapting to this new way of work. Leaders must identify these challenges and take steps to make their lives easier.
2. Be More Empathetic
In tough times, a few good words can uplift employee morale. These troubled times are difficult for everyone – including the members of your team. It is a leader’s job to motivate their team as they navigate through this change. Leaders should talk to their team members and understand if they are facing any personal challenges. They should treat their employees with respect and accommodate their unique needs to make them feel more valued.
These simple conversations and adjustments will create a safe environment for the employee to share their concerns positively. Being empathetic means acknowledging your people’s stress, giving them support, and eliminating their job security fears.
Show empathy by asking questions and clearing out the doubts that your employees have in their minds.
The same is true for customers. Customers are facing unique challenges in these troubled times. Businesses should try to understand these challenges and come up with ways to resolve them. For example, when the pandemic first started, Bank of America offered mortgage payment holidays for customers who were impacted by COVID-19. They also paused foreclosure sales, repossession of properties, and eviction. This allowed impacted customers to focus on their immediate needs instead of worrying about mortgage payments.
The pandemic has caused more psychological pain rather than physical discomfort. It is an opportunity for managers and stakeholders to show empathy to their employees and customers to win their loyalty.
3. Use Smart Tools to Manage Sales Organization
Whether you are a startup or a well-established B2B business, sales have declined drastically for most companies. The competition to win back customers is now more challenging than ever.
To increase and manage your sales, you must use tools to drive sales in a short time. We use the following tools a lot and suggest you do the same.
In trying times, CRM tools like CreamSoda can help you win the competition by improving sales efficiency. It helps you collect and analyze feedback from customers and formulate new strategies to improve your sales process. A good CRM tool also helps your team to work remotely and facilitates effective communication with team members and customers. This results in more sales, improved customer relationships, and greater customer satisfaction.
Microsoft Teams is another great tool that can be used by your remote team to take sales calls from the comfort of their home.
For organizations that require customer signatures, DocuSign is an electronic signature tool that can help business owners and sales representatives to get signature on critical documents from clients during these COVID-19 times.
4. Reconfigure Your Sales Process
According to Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, the COVID-19 changed the way businesses deal with customers, “We saw two years of digital transformation in two months.” Indeed, this placed companies in a hard spot.
The key is to reconfigure sales processes and align them with the new dynamics of the business. Sales organizations must halt in-person sales channels and switch to a more remote selling process. For instance, the following steps can be taken to adapt to the new change:
- For eCommerce businesses reducing the buying steps is necessary.
- Facilitate customers with video calls to establish a bond of trust.
- Revive the art of cold calling. Place the best salespersons on the phone.
- Increase the frequency of email offers for loyal customers.
- If in-person sales are the last resort, take the necessary COVID-19 precautions.
- Align your sales messages with the COVID-19 trends: hashtags.
- Add Corporate Social Responsibility as part of your sales strategy.
The dynamics of the sales system has changed. To survive, companies must adopt new methods fast. The old systems and a fixed mindset will not help anymore.
To succeed and scale fast, one must think long-term instead of short-term gain. Companies must adopt best practices to make remote selling efficient and easy for the customer. Organizing brainstorming sessions can help teams formulate efficient remote selling strategies that can then be shared throughout the organization.
Companies that use remote sales tools and advanced CRMs will scale faster than companies who rely on old methods. Just like everything else, new sales strategies will be needed to acquire new-age customers. This can only be done when companies agree on transforming their operations as per the post-COVID-19 procedures.
5. Redefine Excellence
Prior to the pandemic, people would look forward to meeting friends over the weekend for a nice dinner and a chat. But since the pandemic started, many people are opting to socialize over video calls and order in food using food delivery services. Food delivery at home is the new excellence model.
Similarly, instead of going to the grocery, many people are opting to order their groceries online as they look for ways to reduce their exposure to the virus. Now, apps like Uber Eats is delivering groceries at the customer’s doorstep.
Everything the sales team does must be aligned with the best practices of social distancing. What once was a luxury is now a necessity for a customer. This leaves customers to buy products online rather than physically visiting the store.
This change in customer behavior introduces new sales channels and markets that a business can take advantage of. COVID-19 has also brought in opportunities for businesses to enter new markets and explore ways to sell new products to their existing customers. To achieve this, leaders must evaluate their customer and employee feedback along with the business’s core competencies to come up with new opportunities in a changing market.
Your team also needs some meaning and connection. The impression that your salespeople are part of a purpose is enough to help them innovate and redefine excellence.
The new sales strategy is to inform the customer about how the product will help them. Meaning for them to buy your product is an excellent measure of excellence. Conduct training on the new business model, which is less about numbers and more about satisfying the customer.
In the new economy, trust, noble purpose, and selling with grace – a philosophy of winning hearts rather than increasing sales is the core of building relationships. Customers of today now look for making an emotional connection first before buying anything from a brand.
Due to the pandemic, there is fear, uncertainty within people. If, as a brand, you can create an environment of trust among your sales team to help them cope in these uncertain times, you will have a loyal team that would contribute to your success.
Moreover, customers’ buying habits have changed, which means every organization must first align their business values with the requirements of the new environment.
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