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    By Chris Strandin April 13, 2022

    The Post-COVID Pivot for Sales Teams

    Now that things are hopefully starting to feel like they are returning to normal, sales organizations are finding themselves in a position where they need to make a strategic pivot to better reach their customers. Some businesses will pick up, others will slow down, and others still will see changes in volatility. Which of the following are you expecting over the next 12 months?

    "Business should finally start picking back up"

    If you dwindled your sales and marketing efforts during the pandemic because the demand fell off a cliff, now is the time to start re-investing to capture business as it comes back. I talk to many companies in industries that stood still for the last two years, and they are putting their plans in place to get back on track towards growth. 

    Talk to your best customers. Ask:

    • What are they seeing in their organizations and the market?
    • When are they expecting a rebound?
    • Is there pent up demand that may hit all at once?  

    As it comes back, make sure that you have the right team in place with the right training to be able to capitalize on this market opportunity. If you reallocated sales staff during the pandemic, it's time to start thinking about getting them back in front of customers, or augmenting the team so you're ready to go when it picks up. 

    With the new partial work-from-home paradigm, how is that going to affect how your sales team sells? Do your classically outside sales reps need to focus more on phone calls than in-person visits? If you haven't invested in video conferencing software and the ability of your reps to give a presentation remotely, that's something else to consider right now. 

    If you're looking for best practices that will work for your company in a post-pandemic sales environment, Sales Result is here to share what we've learned and are seeing across many unique markets, and we'd love to learn your experience as well. 

    "Business has been hot, and may cool off"

    I worked closely with a global company over the last two years that sold, among other things, wax to candle makers. Candle sales skyrocketed over this time period because of the huge shift to working from home, and the biggest sales challenge has been securing enough product to satisfy customers and the market. As your prospects and customers go back to the office, they aren't going to be burning as many candles at home, and we can look ahead and see a decline coming. The question becomes, what do you do about it?

    • Launch an aggressive campaign to win market share against competitors?
    • Expand within existing accounts into other products, departments, or verticals?
    • Reallocate sales resources to other product lines?
    • Then there's marketing - do you ratchet it up, or slash the budget?

    All good questions, and it really depends on a lot of factors. Many of your customers may tell you what they WANT to happen, and it may give you a false sense of what's to come. After all, demands are changing rapidly in many markets, and historical data can be deceptive. My advice is to plan for the worst, and pray for the best. 

    In planning for a slowdown, set a clear strategy with supporting tactics, roles, and responsibilities. Communicate the plan, and make sure there is buy-in across the sales organization, talking through objections and concerns. Once your plan is in motion, monitor it closely with the right reports and dashboards to show what's working, and what's not; it's ok to tweak the plan, but give it time to succeed or fail before trying to roll out a new plan every two weeks. 

    Comment below what you're using to forecast when you're expecting a macro-level slowdown.  

    "Business has been sporadic and should get more predictable"

     If the last two years has been characterized by anything, it's been fear and constantly changing information. Masks, vaccines, tariffs, mandates, supply chains, employee mental health; it's been a doozy, and a lot of businesses have seen a feast-or-famine month-to-month due to the economic and social environment.  The worst part is that it's incredibly difficult to predict. 

    Going forward, it will hopefully stabilize, but that doesn't mean you're in the clear. Doing a thorough review of your KPIs, reports, and dashboards today will help give you a better understanding of leading and lagging indicators. Think creatively, there may be associations in the data you have that could have helped you forecast much better. Below are a few ideas, but I would encourage you to dive into your data, or have an objective review conducted, to make sure you're tracking the right metrics and have good visibility. 

    • Number of calls to a connect (cold vs warm)
    • Average length of conversation (may be an inverse relationship)
    • Rolling average sales cycle
    • Number of unique deals closed by month (may show sentiment fluctuations)
    • Inbound leads captured by month, (Unqualified vs. qualified, by vertical)

    This is just a starter list, but will hopefully help you come up with something brilliant that will a better sense of predictability. 

    Every Business

    There's a few post-mortem analyses that should be conducted regardless of how you fared since 2020. The phrase "hindsight is 20/20" may not fully apply here with accounts you weren't as close to, but it's easier to look backward than forward. Have you looked at the following? 

    • When customers went under, and where did their business go?
    • New entrants to the market, and how you found/will find them
    • If you had predictions periodically during the pandemic, were you right? Why? 
    • What was a priority before, that fell off the radar? Training, onboarding, enablement, executive sales oversight, hiring, account planning, sales process revamp?

    What else has your business looked at in your post-mortem analysis? Let us know in the comments. 

    As you look at pivoting your sales strategy to take advantage of whatever is going on in your market, if you're interested in a third party analysis or assistance in setting up your new foundation, Sales Result is here to help. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you, and let's tackle this next economic chapter together. 

    Topics: Sales Management, Sales Strategy, CEO

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