Covid-19. What was still a reason to laugh up until early March amongst salesmen circles in Switzerland, has now become an unpleasant reality. Most visits have been canceled due to sanitary reasons and customers are facing unprecedented consequences. The majority of the shops are now closed for four weeks and businesses are or will be facing significant financial challenges. Just ask any restaurant owner. For the sales professionals which are still operating, here's a list of measures that will help sales managers and professionals to navigate the crisis.
The Chinese symbol for crisis is made of two characters: risk & opportunity
Put family and health first
The first measure to take as a sales manager is to let your team members take care of their families and health first. The daycare facilities are closed and parents are heavily impacted by the situation. Furthermore, as the number of infected people is rising, it is likely that some of your team members have someone around them who is suffering from the virus. Give your team the time to take care of this unique situation and time to breathe.
Forget planning, tomorrow will be different
Now is not a good time to start planning activations or identifying new prospects for after the crisis. The length of the lockdown is nothing but certain and there will be a new reality after this crisis. What is certain is that tomorrow will be significantly different from today. The businesses which will have adjusted to the lockdown will have to focus on managing their cashflow and re-defining their short-term and mid-term strategies. Businesses will respond in an unexpected manner, just as your business will have to adjust to survive. Instead of looking forward, now is a perfect opportunity to look back.
So what shall sales managers do?
#1 Identify waste in your current sales operations
Post-crisis your B2B sales operations will need to be very effective. Let's face it, there will be a rush for sales after the lock-down. Being fast will be a necessity for many businesses. The fastest to sell again will also be the most likely to survive. Addressing now all operational improvements that will help you to be faster is the key to your future success. Typically you should look into sales funnel bottlenecks, sales force efficiency measures, and sales multiplier opportunities.
#2 Clean your sales data
It's been now months and maybe years that you considered your ABC classification as out-dated or that your contacts list does not have all the required properties. Now it's finally the time to take care of your sales data. Train your team on the CRM, search for all the missing pieces that have prevented you from doing the analysis that will help your business be faster. Here are a few tips on CRM data management.
#3 Train, Train, Train
During one of my last assignments, we identified that product/service knowledge was a weakness of the current team. While the issues had been identified, there was never sufficient time or "bandwidth" to address the issues. "Now" is a great time to build the training modules that will enable your salesforce to overcome its shortcomings, i.e. a great time to review your sales training material. What about getting the marketing/ product development teams onboard and work on a revamped sales training?
#4 Read, Read, Read
In this post, you'll find my reading recommendations for sales managers and anyone who is in sales. As a sales manager or as a sales professional you may not have the time to read. Your focus is either on reviewing your last sales figures or forecasting your next quota. This crisis could be an opportunity to catch up and pick the brain of great thinkers/practitioners.