…but there isn’t, and in every commercial “war room” around the globe, sales teams had to develop a crisis strategy to come out of the pandemic as winners. They had to do it fast, and we know it takes more than a pen and a sheet of paper to rewrite the Bible.
However, it seems there is an opportunity in adversity. According to a BCG study, 14% of companies were able to accelerate their growth and increase profitability during the past four recessions.
This COVID-19 vs sales situations should be no different, should it? We’ve taken a peek through the cracked door of sales’ team commercial war rooms in the UK and come out with a few key-practices, trends, and a critical view on the future of post-COVID sales.
B2B Sales teams’ reactions during the pandemic
Sales leaders had to take a few steps and measures to weather the turbulent times of the pandemic.
Image Source: https://on.bcg.com/2BIIuxh
In all this process, “dynamism” should have been the word written on any sales teams’ white flip chart board, alongside “digital sales playbook” describing all the best practices of working remotely, and setting new expectations with customers.
The three keywords: “spend”, “digital” and “remote”
While most companies had to tighten their belt, there was a considerable number of businesses that increased or at least, maintained their spending. These companies riding the fluffy cloud of optimism are mostly pharma or media businesses. At the other end of the spectrum, we find travel and global energy and materials. However, the spending patterns are also highly-dependable on geography, so it might be more complicated than that.
Suddenly, digital is that cool kid in school that everybody wants to be friends with. The importance of digital channels for both B2C and B2B environments has significantly grown in the past years, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a different kind of surge. Sales leaders rate digital channels approximately twice or thrice as important now as they were before. It is no wonder why, now more than ever, customers prefer digitally enabled sales interactions, and suppliers’ mobile apps and social media or online communities are showing their sharpest increase now since 2019.
90% of B2B sales are now happening via videoconferencing so remote has become an important necessity.
In the context of the major challenge that the COVID-19 pandemic still poses, sales organizations are going to transform, even more, to weather the storm and adapt to a new kind of normal. In the UK, during the pandemic, 43% of all field sales fully-transitioned to working via videoconference/phone, while another 36% of them were doing partial sales via videoconference /phone.
Looking to the future of sales
Sale leaders are continuously acting to adjust to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. From adjusting sales to remote working to establishing multi-disciplinary commercial nerve centers to manage sales operations during the pandemic, companies need to get used to swimming in the troubled waters of the COVID-19 situation.
The first sales teams that will learn how to build a boat and safely navigate this new environment will probably win big on the market.
Looking to the future of sales, we have identified 4 important tactics for post-COVID sales:
Maintaining personal customer management. Keeping a degree of ‘personal’ contact with clients is now solely an ‘online job’ that comes with its fair share of challenges.
Assessing customer behavior and risk. Based on daily data, sales should garner insights into customer behavior and risk. However cynical it would sound, classifying clients into different risk groups to see for sure which revenues are likely to be expected in the short term, is also a must-do.
Real-time sales performance. Continuous monitoring and forecasting of the daily sales performance is the basis for the sales response to the COVID-19.
Sales teams outsourcing. Outsourcing a more appropriate sales team to help the brand come up with solutions that fit both their needs and budget is not a bad idea either. Outsourced sales partners that are more prepared for the actual crisis can help both small and large businesses deploy and manage inside sales, outside sales, or direct sales.
Setting sales teams has become a real art now more than ever.
Speaking of sales teams, it is time for us to take a gentle cruise down on Research Street, and you can follow us by making a smooth right on our BDD research page dedicated to COVID-19 related business development.
That is where you will find all our recent research and discussions about the impact of the actual global pandemic on the global economy. If you want to further lean on the lamppost of chat and talk about challenges and solutions, our BDD LinkedIn page is always active.