The impacts of COVID-19 on business have been unprecedented – unemployment rates are soaring, businesses are dramatically changing their business models in a shift towards online-focused customer interaction, and more and more operations are becoming automated.
With this significant shift in B2B behavior and working trends, sales management is an area of business that requires adjustment in ensuring success throughout COVID-19. With this being said, the required shift in work processes and approaches also indicates the opportunity for post-pandemic success.
Whether or not companies will maintain revenues and competitiveness in an effective manner will come down to whether or not sales teams have the ability to sustain momentum throughout COVID-19. Doing so will require the adoption of new workflows, reflecting and understanding the needs of employees, more effectively catering to new customer priorities, and being flexible and prepared in having a strong post-pandemic plan.
Adjusting to a Different Way of Working
The way teams are required to operate has changed immensely – requirements and views surrounding lockdown, social distancing, and sickness in the workplace mean that a significant portion of the workforce is working from home. This has caused teams to integrate digital communication in the form of chat, video meetings, and more on a regular basis, making communicating a very different, yet even more important task.
Not only are employees impacted in regard to their workplace and internal communications – customer interactions and external communication has also changed, with communication through social channels and over the phone seeing a significant increase.
In addition to direct communication with customers, businesses are implementing innovative ways of catering to customer needs online – a strong example is Westpac’s mortgage calculator (more info here), allowing customers to avoid long wait times and problems that can be associated with phone calls and online communication. Integrating tech like this in a B2B environment can be just as effective in supporting sales efforts and diverting pressure away from sales managers.
Maintaining Employee Productivity and Morale
In addition to implementing redefined workflows and technology, it is just as important to ensure productivity and morale are maintained throughout the impacts of COVID-19. Employees and team members will be experiencing new requirements for collaboration and adopting new routines – as a result, management techniques might need to change. This requires an empathetic approach, as well as helping employees to adjust to more isolated and unfamiliar work environments.
In particular, achieving a productive remote working environment with effective communication and collaboration is key in maintaining a safe workplace during this health crisis. This means providing guidance on productivity and communication from home, as well as providing flexibility and allowance for adjustments to be made.
Finally, in addition to these measures, it is important that when it comes to sales management, the relevant employees are in the loop when it comes to expectations on performance. Pipeline volume will likely be extremely volatile – communicating this to your team and letting them know that a plan is in place will ensure that they have peace of mind and confidence in their work.
Catering to Shifting Consumer Needs
With consumer behavior seeing a significant impact throughout COVID-19, demand has shifted dramatically, or in many cases dropped off completely. This is not only in regard to product demand – there has also been a shift in how B2B consumers prefer to communicate with other businesses, and how they want business interactions to play out.
In addition to utilizing technology in improving the efficiency of customer service for both employees and customers, customer experience needs have shifted. For example, sales teams should focus on customer care and concern regarding their situation – rather than focusing on a product, be supportive and sales are more likely to follow.
In addition to general demeanor during communication, this means an increased focus on content support, FAQ sessions, and demonstrations – all things that can effectively be implemented using tech.
Developing a Post-Pandemic Plan
Finally, developing and implementing a post-pandemic plan is crucial in ensuring that the ongoing efforts surrounding sales management not only carry the business through the pandemic but result in successful and competitive operation afterward.
This means developing sales forecasts that demonstrate possible increases in supply and demand, as well as predicting the requirements of production and development teams and processes. Ensuring that there are no bottlenecks and that sales opportunities can be met effectively in a post-pandemic market will allow teams to take advantage of the opportunity for increased growth and competitive advantage.