The first two stages of change that you should already have taken in your business relate to the sales force and the structure of the sales department . Now you are ready to take action.
I want to mention that the ability of the sales leader and managers to ensure successful execution of the sales activities and the recovery plan is the most important factor in the recovery of your activities.
- Hold representatives accountable for prospecting activities
If you’ve had to downsize your sales team, you probably think you’ve kept the top players, and therefore it’s easy to assume the job will do its own thing.
Yet it is still the responsibility of sales leaders and their managers to hold representatives accountable for a certain level of prospecting and sales activity. Even if your business is unable to produce at this time given the circumstances, what your sales force is doing now is serving the sales that will be made in the coming months . There is no reason to stand idly by and wait for the crisis to pass. The average length of your sales cycle needs to be factored into what you can do today.
Unfortunately, reluctance to telephone prospecting is not new. We can see that it is greatly affected by a salesperson’s sales DNA . The figures below, obtained by Objective Management Group from around 2 million salespeople, show the effect of 4 components of sales DNA on prospecting:
62% of salespeople need approval
38% of salespeople have difficulty overcoming rejection
21% of sellers do not want to prospect
34% of salespeople are perfectionists and they won’t make calls until they feel they can do it perfectly
In total, 71% of salespeople have at least one of these factors limiting their prospecting activities
The reluctance to make calls is also influenced by the willingness to sell and the level of motivation of your representatives. Indeed, it seems normal to note that when the level of adversity rises, prospecting efforts decrease . Representatives who wish to avoid cold calls may take refuge in sending emails to prospect .
Let us remember that the current crisis has generated strong competition, and that a call can help you differentiate yourself from others .
Also, the actions to be prioritized should be:
those that help fill the pipeline with new opportunities
those that help to increase the visibility of the company.
Find more information on these activities in the structure section of our crisis exit action plan: setting up a content marketing strategy and increasing your points of contact with decision-makers using social networks are ways that make it easier to get new leads.
Moreover, at Prima Ressource, March 2020 was the best month in the company’s history for lead generation, even despite the crisis. We asked ourselves the following question: “How can our expertise help?”
Even if you don’t think you can achieve anything during this time, I think there is still something that can create value for you and for your target customers. Encourage your salespeople to find creative ways to present your expertise to your potential clients during prospecting activities.
- Offer the right coaching
Before the crisis, the role of sales managers should already be focused on coaching representatives. Now they have to coach their key players to overcome new obstacles like:
- Price resistance
- The stretching sales cycle
- Increasing the level of urgency
- Adapting the sales pitch to the context
Effective coaching involves asking open-ended questions of representatives so that they can find the answers to their problems on their own. The integration of role plays also serves as a powerful tool to help the representative overcome a specific weakness by practicing scenarios that he might encounter in his new reality.
In times of crisis, it is necessary to be creative and diversify the content of these coaching sessions in order to equip representatives as much as possible to face adversity.
- Motivate representatives
76% of sales rep motivation stems from intrinsic components like the desire for recognition and the need for accomplishment. It can therefore prove difficult to use extrinsic motivation levers, such as bonuses, to get the sales force to perform better.
However, for a short-term period, certain incentives can be effective in temporarily helping players who find the situation difficult on their morale.
It is important to offer incentives that match the needs of each individual . An incentive considered satisfactory for one person will not necessarily make another happy, hence the relevance of conducting an analysis of your sales force.
Even so, incentives aimed at motivating your key players cannot compensate for a poorly balanced compensation plan so be sure to provide compensation right before considering other means.
- Hold regular sales meetings
The pace of sales meetings must be maintained or even increased now that everyone is working from home. This can cause a loss of efficiency in the fluidity of internal communication, but it is essential that sales managers and representatives are on the same wavelength in order to continue working to achieve the objectives and allow the company to. restart in force at the end of the crisis.
During meetings, it is currently more relevant to observe the indicators that make it possible to assess the capacity to generate new opportunities such as:
- The number of new meetings
- The amount of new opportunities in the pipeline
- The quality of opportunities in the funnel
- The movement of opportunities
It is the upstream monitoring of these indicators that will make it possible to better predict the impact on income and on profitability at the end of the crisis.
Manage the sales force remotely
Sales managers may also need to adapt to telecommuting and managing their entire team remotely due to the pandemic. This ability to manage remotely is decisive for the success of a company considering its exit from the crisis.
We invite you to watch our free webinar specially designed to help you Manage a B2B sales team remotely if you are interested in learning more.
While a large number of SMEs have been battered by the effects of the health crisis, the opportunities to emerge stronger are present insofar as decisions regarding the sales department are made with the right data and revolve around a clear transformation plan to respond to the new environment.