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6 steps for helping sales team stay productive during pandemic in 2021

If there’s one certainty emerging in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that businesses are moving into uncharted territory. While the facts are changing by the day, the clouds of economic uncertainty and possible recession loom over the horizon.

The OECD has downgraded the annual global GDP growth forecast for 2020 to 2.4%, down from 2.9% in 2019. It also said that growth could fall to as low as 1.5% if the outbreak is more intense and long-lasting. And most stock market indices don’t show any signs of recovering quickly from their worrying collapse.

As B2B businesses are being forced by social distancing into remote work, the job of sales teams just got that much harder. Even before the pandemic-induced crisis, sales teams have faced an uphill battle, trying to meet the rising expectations of customers in a digital world. Now, with face-to-face meetings and in-person events drying up, it's much more critical for organizations to step up and support their remote sales teams who are mostly now working from home in these uncertain times.

Here are six key steps for helping your sales teams stay productive:

1. Communicate your concern for their safety and be supportive.

The world hasn’t faced global disruption on such a large scale in recent times. Instill confidence in your employees by reassuring them that you are doing everything possible to make their lives and jobs safe and secure. Address the immediate challenges that individual sales team members may be facing due to the pandemic. Enable them to work remotely, allowing them enough flexibility to take care of their personal needs. These are times when internal communication is more critical than ever. Besides the regular updates on the changing situation within the organization and beyond, create opportunities for virtual meetings and regular online hangouts to compensate for the lack of in-office interactions, and encourage all team members to participate in them.

2. Rework projections and manage expectations:

It’s tempting to aim for “business as usual," but the fact is, everything from your sales teams’ workday to your customers’ buying cycle has undergone a radical shift. Old targets and quotas won’t hold, as customers have gone into crisis mode themselves. Internally, previous productivity targets may not hold as employees may be struggling with taking care of their families and adapting to new ways of connecting with customers and co-workers. Revise your targets in consultation with your sales teams. Prepare for declining demand, longer sales cycles, order cancellations, and supply chain disruptions. Work with multiple crisis scenarios in mind, including a best-case and a worst-case scenario, so you could switch strategy as the crisis evolves. Take your sales teams into confidence, so they know what is realistically expected of them during this period.

3. Prioritize the most likely deals:

As expected, buyers are postponing purchase decisions, staying with trusted partners, and backing out of early-stage deals with new vendors. For sales teams, this requires knowing which deals to prioritize and which to put on the backburner. This is where all of your enablement analytics come into play, giving a deep understanding of buyer behavior that lets you forecast the likelihood of each win. This is also the time to show your existing customers that you are there to support them, see how you can make it easier for them to interact with your teams, and empower your sales and support teams to be flexible in meeting their contractual terms with them.

4. Go virtual with training and coaching:

If your organization has relied on traditional face-to-face training and coaching, this is the opportune time to shift to virtual onboarding, training and coachinging. With an integrated, next-generation sales enablement solution, it’s easy to build modular, on-the-go training experiences. Most importantly, remember to leverage video, which not only encourages greater engagement and retention but also adds in the human touch that employees are going to be missing in these times. With online tests, recorded demos, and so on, it’s also easier for you to track seller performance and focus coaching resources accordingly. 

5. Re-examine your content strategy:

This is not the time to hard sell to your customers. While communicating with customers and prospects, you need to practice empathy, recognize the pain that they might be going through during this period, and offer your company’s support to address their problems in the best way possible. Inform them of any new policies that your business might be adopting at this time that they could benefit from. Spend some time re-thinking the key benefits of your products and services so that they stay relevant in the current environment. Is there a sales pitch, for instance, that you can make to your customers about how your solutions can help them face the COVID-19 challenge and get through the crisis? Is there any content that you can share, which may be vital to your clients in a time like this, even if it is not directly connected to your product or service? Make sure that your content strategy gets that balance right in terms of the messaging. Your value proposition should be clear, easy to grasp, and more simply communicated than usual.

6. Support remote selling:

From product walkthroughs and virtual demos to shared screens and virtual meetings, there are several remote sales solutions that enablement technologies can offer. Just as it’s important that you keep in touch with your sales teams, your sales teams need to stay in close contact with the buyers. Train your sales teams on how to effectively conduct business through virtual channels, and enable them to collaborate with customers. One of the more impactful effects of the pandemic has been the cancellation and postponement of large scale events. If your business relies a lot on tradeshows and in-person events to keep in touch with potential customers, this may perhaps be the time for you to consider hosting an event or a webinar online. 

While businesses are still learning how to deal with the crisis, how quickly a company adopts new ways of thinking to suit the changing environment will determine which ones will emerge victorious at the end of the tunnel.

To know how can help you enable your technical sales teams, schedule a call today.