Business strategies change constantly, but they usually pivot slowly over time. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, things have shifted rapidly. The way you do business today and how your marketing works is remarkably different than it was just one year ago.
What kinds of changes do you need to implement to capture the market post-COVID-19? Many businesses are finding that they need to get revenue coming in immediately. However, they’re facing a different market and changed consumer behavior.
Here are some ways to pivot your sales strategy to maximize your post-COVID-19 success.
What is a Sales Strategy?
What do business leaders mean when they talk about a “sales strategy?” To put it simply, a sales strategy is a concrete process that allows your company to sell products and services consistently. You have to put a lot of thought into your goals and the tactics you’ll use to achieve them.
Sales strategy includes everything from how you train your sales team to how you qualify leads. You probably already have a strategy in place, but when was the last time you reviewed it? If it’s been a while — or your current strategy doesn’t take into account the realities of COVID-19 — it’s time to make adjustments.
Sales Strategy in Times of COVID-19
The way that your sales team interacts with leads has likely changed significantly due to COVID-19. Where in-person sales meetings may have been the norm, today more sales are happening virtually or over the phone.
How to Adapt to the New Environment
The first step to adapting to our new business environment is to maximize the outreach that happens remotely. If you haven’t already maximized your website and optimized your online store, this is the time to do it.
You should also focus on search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and email marketing. There are a variety of tools you can use to make these processes easier for your sales team.
As you focus on your digital marketing presence, you should also improve your digital security. If you’re a small business, make sure you encrypt your devices to safeguard your customers’ payment information and data. If your sales team uses mobile devices, make sure you have a plan for what to do if they are stolen, hacked, or otherwise compromised. This is especially necessary if you operate with a Bring Your Own Device policy.
Current B2B Scenario for Sales Leaders
If your business does business-to-business (B2B) sales, you’ll face some additional challenges. You can’t recover faster than your customers do. If the businesses you serve have been hard-hit, you may have to be especially flexible as you plan your recovery.
The good news is that not all companies are reducing spending. Some are maintaining or even increasing, which allows you to continue to grow. Digital interactions are increasingly important, as they are in consumer sales.
Finally, almost all sales have moved to a videoconferencing, phone, or web sales model. In other words, remote sales skills will be essential as you navigate this new normal.
Developing a Sales Strategy for a Small Business
If you’re a small business, you have some advantages as we resume normal activity. You can adjust and adapt more quickly than other larger companies.
Focus on Online Sales
Like all other businesses, you’ll find that many of your customers are still happy to buy from you but may not be willing to visit your store in person. Focus on offering your products and services online whenever possible.
The good news is that when you make this shift, you’ll be more resilient and more easily able to handle future disruptions.
Take Advantage of Agile Development and Management
Agile development and management focuses on breaking projects down into smaller parts that are accomplished in sprints. This is an excellent strategy for businesses facing changes due to COVID-19.
When you break projects down into smaller parts, you’re able to better predict the resources you need and prioritize them. Those priorities don’t need to last a long time, though. After the sprint, you can reevaluate your needs.
This is perfect for a business facing an uncertain future. Reaching smaller goals in short timeframes gives you ample time to understand the market and the needs of your customers, even if those things change significantly.
You’ll likely find that focusing on an agile framework is so successful that you’ll stick with it long after the pandemic has passed.
Review Your Business Concept
Many entrepreneurs found that they had to reimagine what their company looked like during the pandemic. For instance, airlines began focusing on cargo flights, and hotels offered day rates for work-from-home employees.
Don’t be afraid to review your business concept to see what you can do to better embrace the changes brought about by COVID-19. You may find that new ideas improve your business and bring you new opportunities to thrive.
Current Challenges with Sales Strategy
Many business owners are hoping they can more or less return to normal. However, “normal” has changed as a result of COVID-19.
Changes in the Market and Consumer Behavior
There will be a variety of changes to the business environment and consumer behavior because of the pandemic, and it’s hard to know exactly which ones will be long-lasting. A large part of the population will use the crisis and lockdown as opportunities to reexamine their lifestyles and may choose more ecologically conscious and socially beneficial purchases going forward, and harnessing these trends can help your company adapt.
However, these changes may not stick around long-term. People may lose interest in maintaining their changes as the months and years pass after 2020, so be sure you’re consistently evaluating your customers’ needs.
The economy has struggled due to closures, and the markets have been volatile because of uncertainty. However, the markets are showing a lot of resilience, so you may not have to manage significant long-term changes to the economic profile of the country.
Mistakes to Avoid
There are some mistakes you should avoid as businesses reopen and customers start spending again. The first is to pretend that nothing happened. If your store doesn’t promote social distancing, sanitize and clean more often, and protect both staff and customers, you could find yourself in trouble. Customers may not want to shop with you, or you may be the target of a lawsuit if someone gets ill.
Another mistake is to assume that digital shopping is short-term and not investing in it properly. Once longtime in-person shoppers get a taste of online convenience, they may not be eager to go back. Also, more and more customers have been tech-savvy their entire lives. You can’t miss out on those customers by failing to create a high-quality, secure online shopping experience.
Strategies to Improve Sales During and After COVID-19
As we move into our new normal, it’s essential to embrace new ways of selling to maximize your return to profitability. Here are some strategies to keep in mind.
Invest in Technology
Both your customers and your sales team will benefit if you focus on improving the experience each can have on mobile devices. Mobile apps account for an increasing percentage of sales, and your company can’t afford to be left behind. Sales reps are more effective if they can show products and update records on the go as well.
Additionally, your sales team doesn’t need to waste time updating inefficient customer profiles in outdated customer relationship management (CRM) software. By investing in better business software, your team will be able to spend more time selling and less time on data entry.
No leader has ever reached a point where they don’t need to grow. This pandemic has put a lot of stress on leaders, and it’s important to avoid allowing that to trickle down to your team. Working on conflict resolution skills is a great place to start, especially if tempers are running high in this challenging time. Understand why problems occur and how they can be fairly and quickly resolved.
You can also practice stepping back and giving your team more space to grow. Overmanaging is a problem at every level of business, and it’s especially tempting in uncertain times. Allowing your sales team to learn and grow through the difficulty may show you solutions you hadn’t thought of, and empowerment will help your team rise to the challenge.
Flexibility Pays Off as We Move Through COVID-19
Even though businesses across the country are reopening, many things are yet to be seen. We don’t know the pandemic’s long-term effect on consumers and the business environment.
By pivoting your sales strategy to meet the current challenges and staying flexible, you’ll be able to return to profitability and remain resilient no matter what the future holds.