Sales During COVID – Should you change your sales approach?

by Mike O'Neill

COVID has changed marketing and sales forever. If your company doesn’t adapt to the changing climate, your business could go under. 

In the past, sales calls and product demonstrations were made face-to-face. With social distancing and fear of catching COVID spreading, these types of interactions are no longer feasible.

In a recent webinar, we interviewed expert panelist Steve Hillis to find out how you can keep your business afloat by changing your sales approach.

Watch the webinar or keep reading to learn what wisdom Steve had to share to help struggling businesses overcome these new challenges.

Key Things to Evaluate & Develop

Part of the sales job is putting yourself in the buyer's shoes. COVID hasn’t changed that. But now, your buyer’s priorities have changed. You have to look at how they changed this last quarter, last month, or even last week. Keeping this in mind, you need to look at your sales culture, sales force effectiveness, and customer base quality. 

#1: Sales Culture

During this stage of COVID, companies should be using this time to evaluate the quality of their sales team. You can do this by doing employee assessments to better understand their skills and work ethic.

You also need to evaluate the sales team's attitude. Right now, a lot of people are living in fear of catching COVID. This fear may have caused a shift in their attitude towards work. 

While you can understand these fears, you also need to make sure you have the right team in place for your company. Don't be afraid to make changes with your team if necessary. 

#2: Sales Force Effectiveness

We encourage companies to increase their profitability, as well as productivity, during this time. More people than ever are working from home, and it is more challenging to call on or connect with customers, so it’s more important than ever for you to really understand how productive your salesforce is during this time.

COVID has given companies the opportunity to spend some time to develop metrics and systems that enable managers to understand and evaluate each salesperson's productivity and profitability.    

You will want to spend some time weekly on their sales history, each person's closing ratio, and PDA’s (Priority Daily Activities).  We encourage companies to monitor these metrics, and if it's done in a motivational way, it can be very effective.  

#3: Quality of the Customer Base

Companies need to evaluate the quality of their customer base now. You may need to refocus your strategy and diversify. For example, suppose you’re a business with a large portion of sales from seniors who are now unable to get out of their senior living facilities. In that case, you’ll need to create a strategy to develop a more robust customer mix to include more older people still living at home.

Also, keep in mind we are all having to adjust to this COVID situation together. It's a very important time to develop relationships. This is something that may change how some people sell. Salespeople need to show empathy to connect with their clients and build better relationships.

#4: How Solid is the Sales Bench?

The final key thing to examine is the sales bench. A company may need to develop some long-term planning. 

Companies need to consider what percentage of their sales is managed by upper management or the owner. So in the future, when you decide to sell the business, you won't have a majority of your sales dependent on the owner of the company.  

To achieve the best valuation, companies need to look at how to build a stronger sales team and spread out customer relationships among the sales team. 

COVID has presented businesses with an opportunity. This is the best time to really examine and evaluate your sales team's overall quality, your customers, and your strategy. 

How to Adapt Your Sales Tactics During the COVID Pandemic

COVID is changing the sales game, and companies are being forced to change with it. Are you ready?

Salespeople need to focus more on customer interactions using technology and become more strategic and disciplined about travel. This frees up time and actually allows them to do more. 

Top producers will be open to changing the way they will go about selling. The opportunity is there for the sales team to significantly increase their sales, even with the pandemic. Technology is used more today than it has ever been. Salespeople can use it to reach out to customers with virtual meetings.

#1: Leverage Video Chat For Product Demonstrations & Sales Calls

Due to COVID, customers are much more hesitant to have a lunch meeting or a sit down with a salesperson for a product demonstration. Virtual video meetings using Zoom are ideal for these customers, especially when launching a new product line. 

Virtual meetings cut down on commute time, enabling salespeople to connect with more customers than physically going to see each of them in person.  Instead of taking a plane or driving two hours to go over samples with a customer, technology is now in place to remotely have that meeting.

By utilizing this technology, salespeople should be able to up their game in terms of the number of sales calls that can be made in a day. 

#2: Socially Distance and Require Masks in Showrooms

When scheduling face-to-face meetings during COVID, a salesperson needs better planning. Salespersons need to focus on getting better quality appointments. Sales team members should be looking at ways to climb the business organization's management ladder and get to that client's decision-maker.

When a salesperson meets clients in person, either in their own showroom or at the client's business, they need to be sensitive to any local mask-wearing mandates as well as the client's concerns and preferences. They need to respectfully adhere to social- distancing guidelines. 

#3: Show Empathy & Build Stronger Relationships

To connect with a customer, a salesperson must show empathy. Reach out to customers and show them that you care and understand. Listen to them.

Some customers will still be comfortable with face-to-face meetings. With them, you can continue business as usual, following general COVID guidelines. A salesperson needs to make one of their main goals to build stronger relationships with their customers during these difficult times. 

Companies should provide advanced training to their salespeople to teach them how to reach out differently during COVID. This is especially helpful for your veteran salespeople who have many years of successful experience using a very different technique. 

Key Things to Develop for Best Valuation

Monitoring business value is something that should be done in any economic environment. A company should do a business valuation of its customer base as the business world changes the way it works due to COVID. 

#1: Strength of the Value Proposition

Companies should be looking for ways to grow their relationship with their existing customer base. Your salespeople need to take a closer look at the relationships they have already established to see how they can do more business with existing customers. How can they still expand their business within their current customer list?   

This is a valuable time for companies to evaluate what makes them different from their competition. Is this difference relevant to your customers today? A company may need to make some changes in what they do or the services they provide.

Companies need to make sure their salespeople understand the company's value proposition and that they are able to convey it effectively to your customers. 

#2: Salesforce Discipline and Accountability

A company will want to evaluate the metrics they’re currently using for sales performance and establish a more disciplined system for daily sales activity during COVID. 

To drive up sales in your business, you need to emphasize motivational accountability and discipline. Accountability and discipline are two words the average sales team member will often run from. But if done correctly with help from upper management, you can set metrics that help them improve their daily activity and their performance, and the sales team will respond to it. 

#3: Quality of Marketing & Sales Support

Evaluate the quality of the sales support team. These are the people placing the orders, dealing with claims, and following up with customers. Make sure your processes are good, that everyone is following them, and upgrade if needed. Take some time evaluating your marketing, sales tools, social media, and website and make any necessary adjustments. 

Meet with your marketing team. Find out what is working for them and what hasn’t been. What new ways to market your company’s product or service should you explore? With the changes in technology and how we do business, marketing should be changing as well. 

“The most important meeting you have every month should be a one-on-one personal conference with each person that reports to you [management team] for one hour. You do not talk about business. You focus on their professional development, and you zone in on their personal goals, and business goals.” - Steve Hillis

Spend some time researching your business reputation and evaluate your current customer testimonials. Check out social media rankings and comments. This is a real testimonial to your company. 

If your company doesn’t have testimonials or reviews from customers, it’s time to put a team together and get them. Customer testimonials go a long way for a business when it comes to customer retention and new leads. 

Address any situation that needs attention. If you see something negative, don’t be afraid to reach out to the customer to find out what went wrong and what you need to do to fix it. 

Talk to your customer satisfaction team and see how the business is dealing with claims. Look at the metrics. What claims are being made? Are there commonly made mistakes? Now's the time to establish a strategy to correct these problems.

If you take the time to work through all of these tips with your salesforce, customer, and sales support teams. You will streamline your business, enabling it to run smoothly and help your salesforce increase their sales volume during COVID.

Get Help Changing Your Sales Approach with a Free Coaching Call

Being a sales leader right now is difficult. You have to keep your sales up while everyone is trying to save for what is to come. It can make for quite a lot of anxiety. 

Getting someone to purchase your products or service with all the uncertainties happening around them may cause your company to suffer. But, you or your sales team don’t need to suffer through these difficult times. We’re here to help. 

Our experts have decades of experience helping business leaders, just like you, solve the most significant problems you're facing.

We help leaders like you gain clarity and confidence. We will help you build strategies, make tough decisions, and teach you how to stick to them to keep your company on the right track.

All of our services are now available remotely. We understand that your company has changed, and we’re here to give you the tools you need. Schedule a call today - let’s talk! 

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