Despite all the new technology these days, sales teams are not going the way of the dinosaur.
What does the future of sales hold? It’s hard to say for sure, but the key is to be prepared for evolving channels and a break in the traditional sales model. Here are five strategies to lead your small business sales team through COVID and beyond.
Maintain a sense of normalcy where possible
At the beginning of the pandemic everything was so reactionary; perhaps your small business had to shift its sales strategy overnight. Now the tone has shifted, and we’ve moved on from a stabilize mindset to a growth mindset. Much has changed over the past year, and it’s likely your team could use a hefty dose of normalcy right now. So by all means, continue to do things like hold kickoff events.
No need to overcomplicate them, but kickoffs are a great way to ensure your sales team is motivated and aligned. Be sure to solicit input ahead of time, which can be as easy as sending a quick survey to gather input and ask people what they’d like to see in a virtual kick-off. There’s nothing worse than one person talking over a PowerPoint for hours at a time; look for places to bring in elements of fun and include as many different voices as possible.
No matter what, leave your door open
Sales often boils down to a numbers game – and while it’s always been a great strategy to foster community and connections, the human element is more vital now than ever before. One important aspect of this is one-on-one meetings, especially with leadership teams.
Whether your company is working remote or not, you’ve surely achieved expert status at virtual meetings by now. With that skill comes the responsibility to make time for your team – and not just in group settings. After all, the individual contributors on your team are the ones who pass on your messages and create the culture of your company; it’s important to connect with them and give them an opportunity to be heard. Don’t hesitate to remind your team — multiple times even — that they can get time with you. One-on-one time also provides an opportunity to humanize your leaders and demonstrate solidarity and support.
Speed and efficiency are paramount
People today are much more educated about products and services before they engage, which adds additional complexity for salespeople. You no longer have a day to get back to someone with an answer, response, or demo. This means every interaction you have needs to be engaging and full of pointed information.
Salespeople have a potential customer’s attention for a limited amount of time. Sure, at the moment they experience a problem or a challenge, they need you – but that’s often a short window before they move on to their next challenge. As a salesperson, often your opportunity is to address at least some part of the issue right then and there.
Make sure your questions are relevant to current events and challenges that may be specific to your customers during this time.
The pandemic has forced us to think even harder about what customers really need; for many — especially during this time — every dollar of every spend must be justified. Be prepared to ask probing questions to get to the bottom of challenges quickly and prove your product or service adds value. These probing questions must be positioned differently than pre-pandemic times, though. Make sure your questions are relevant to current events and challenges that may be specific to your customers during this time. For example, if you’re trying to sell a customer on technology that enables more team collaboration, ask questions about how they’ve adjusted to a remote-first world.
Get ahead of digital transformation as much as you can
Speaking of a remote-first world, digital is here to stay. It is literally the future of work. Thanks to COVID, everyone’s now accustomed to buying online – groceries, clothing, streaming technology, and more. This certainly started before COVID, but the pandemic accelerated the adoption of new technology.
In the next five years we’ll see a huge rise in digital transactions, and your sales team has to be prepared for that response.
People are now used to getting things through their digital channels – even when life returns to “normal,” these same people will never fully rely on in-person shopping again. In the next five years we’ll see a huge rise in digital transactions, and your sales team has to be prepared for that response. Have you fully updated your processes and capabilities to act in a world that’s digital-first – or even digital-only? You have to plan for that now.
Always make time to improve every customer relationship
Whether you’re selling to current customers or new prospects, there are always plenty of opportunities to build and improve relationships. Creating an efficient sales process doesn’t mean you’re neglecting one customer while focusing on somebody else. It just means you’re thinking about what they need and providing answers faster. Your new efficient sales process also allows you to focus on building more satisfying relationships.
As the world becomes more digital, to succeed in sales, you’ve got to double down on building higher levels of trust and rapport.
When people trust you to get them crucial information quickly, you can build a solid foundation that will benefit you both. Think about it this way: your competitors likely have a product or service that’s pretty similar to yours. The relationships during the sales process, then, become the differentiator. Since remote work, social distancing, and lockdown of the pandemic, we’ve been hungry for human contact. As the world becomes more digital, to succeed in sales, you’ve got to double down on building higher levels of trust and rapport.
Learn how over 2300 small and medium businesses are navigating the pandemic.
Salesforce helps you find more customers, win their business, and keep them happy so you can succeed. Learn more about our small business CRM solutions by following us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.