The coronavirus pandemic has struck at the very heart of what makes sales organizations tick. Sales leaders are asking: What should we do now to keep our field-sales organization safe and productive? And what does this mean for the future of selling?
The answers vary across industries, as captured vividly by a recent Goldman Sachs headline: “Light at the End of the Tunnel or an Oncoming Train? Depends on Where You Are Standing.” Some industries, such as transportation, hospitality and real estate, have suffered immensely and are facing an existential crisis. Others, such as teleconferencing, online learning, and virtual private networks (VPNs), are experiencing a sharp upturn in demand. In between, most industries are experiencing a demand slump. The direct and knock-on effects are continuing to reverberate through companies and industries.
Faced with these challenges, sales organizations need to refocus, retool, retrench and, in most cases, to prepare for the eventual rebound.
A defining characteristic of the buyer’s mindset is deep uncertainty. At the very outset of the refocusing process, sellers acknowledge that uncertainty and adapt with flexibility. Once employers and salespeople have moved beyond the acute concern about personal safety, business continuity will come to the fore. Companies will have to reconsider what customers now value, and what the sales organization’s role in delivering that value can be.
Buyers in industries that are not seriously impaired or are seeing a spike in demand will still need help from salespeople. Buyers in immobilized industries will want salespeople to assist with revising past orders and delivery schedules, and with developing contingency plans. As business deteriorates and many customers face the specter of bankruptcy, previously booked business will no longer be secure.
Even when customers are buying, sellers may be unable to deliver on past promises. It will be easier for salespeople to deal with repeat customers who are familiar with the company and the value it offers, and already know how to work with the sales team. Outreach will also be easier with digitally savvy customers who prefer video and digital interaction to in-person meetings, and with informed customers who need limited assistance from salespeople.
If and while customers are preoccupied, especially in temporarily hard-hit industries, sales organizations can focus on activities that prepare for future success. These include activities such as generating leads and account prioritization and planning.
As the situation changes and new information emerges, a nimble mindset will be essential for adapting rapidly.
With the mandate for social distancing, even field salespeople now have to work remotely, using online video, social selling, email and more. (Within days of the pandemic declaration, the number of Zoom meetings at our consulting firm, ZS, shot up from 4,000 to 11,000 a day.) We estimate that, well before work-from-home directives, most field salespeople were communicating with customers digitally more than half of the time. This was enabled by the increasing quality and ubiquity of digital communication technologies, along with the growing majority of buyers and sellers who are digital natives. Digital connection works especially well with repeat customers, and buyers who are well-informed. Still, many field salespeople and buyers have shunned digital channels and aids, either because they could or because they missed the technology train.
Source - Read More at: info.zs.com