March 23, 2020

How to Adjust and Improve Sales in Difficult Times

By Peter Gillett, CEO, Zuant and Marketpoint

The pandemic caused by COVID-19 has led to dramatic travel and meeting restrictions and had a sobering effect on selling. The hallmark of the sales profession is personal connection, and that has been turned on its head – for now, at least.

But now is not the time to disappear for a few months and expect good results when you re-emerge. Instead, salespeople should move forward boldly and rethink their approach to connecting with prospects.

How Will the Pandemic Affect Your Sales Approach?
For the next several months, more people than ever before will be working from home. Their priorities will be to reassess, reorganize, and re-evaluate systems and processes so they’re leaner and meaner when we come out on the other side of this pandemic.

So what does this mean for salespeople? Frankly, it’s keeping things simple and utilizing these four proven strategies.

  1. Direct sales using Web meetings – If you thought hand sanitizer sales were going through the roof, imagine what this is doing for Web conferencing companies!
  2. Inside sales – These folks feed the funnel by providing extra coverage and volume capacity to communicate with a much larger volume of prospects (and customers).
  3. Digital marketing – Be ready to receive a much higher volume of inbound traffic, as people have more time to do deeper research.
  4. Data cleaning and targeting – These steps ensure compliance and allow good, simple messaging to be developed and communicated to shorten sales cycles.

Key Action Steps to Improve Sales in Difficult Times

Upgrade and improve your Website for smoother, faster sales.
On your Website, have you got bots in place to provide instant inquiry handling, which smoothly escalates to the human touch as soon as required? How’s your Website structured? Does it provide a logical journey for each of the key job functions that could be interested in your products or services? Can you take it a step further to look at the individual personas within those job functions? Streamlining that initial touch pays dividends.

Streamline operations between inside and outside sellers.
And then there’s inside sales – particularly when it comes to B2B marketing. This is often an overlooked aspect where there is such a flurry of activity to close an initial deal. But, if the buying cycle timing isn’t absolutely correct, it may take a year or two to close. Therefore, having a CRM database that allows sales leads to flip-flop between the direct sales team and the inside sales team provides the ideal follow-up using the warmup artist and the big closer at just the right time!

Keep CRM updated and full of clean data.
Keeping accurate records in the CRM system is a challenge because many salespeople just don’t prioritize this administrative task. To combat this challenge, use a mobile app such as Zuant – or at least develop a simple Web-based lead feedback system so the sales team can easily enter sales information that syncs automatically with the central CRM system.

What better excuse to spring clean and connect data into a single view? Such a detox includes contact data both on internal systems as well as mobile – all those mobile devices used by sales executives to capture all their new contacts. This area is normally ignored, which can be disastrous not just from a compliance perspective, but also from the perspective of getting those contacts into the CRM system for targeting purposes.

Double down on quality marketing content that fills the funnel.
After years of building martech stacks to improve efficiency and reduce personnel, we have taken our eyes off marketing’s goals: to support sales and create a positive customer experience.

So now really is the time to get back to these basics so current lead opportunities are rue followed up with a vengeance. Digital marketing teams are creating quality content and special incentives, and inside sales is working overtime to book more Web presentations than ever to feed the funnel when the market starts picking up again.

Take care of body, mind, and spirit.
On a personal note, salespeople need to keep healthier and fit. Working from home can become claustrophobic, so it’s going to be more important than ever to restart that running program you promised yourself as one of your New Year resolutions. Remember to eat a healthy diet and practice self-care including proper exercise, communicating with loved ones and meditation/journaling if that helps you reduce stress. With less office interaction, the need to maintain a positive mental attitude will be more critical than ever to closing sales.

Successful salespeople have thick skins and are survivors by nature. Remember: This unforeseen pandemic is challenging for everyone, including your prospects. Apply these proven strategies with vigilance and you’ll emerge successfully from this trying situation and finish 2020 in first place.

Peter Gillett is founder and CEO of Zuant and Marketpoint.