If sales were a boxing match, you could equate the second quarter of 2020 to a seasoned heavyweight champion who has been knocked to the canvas multiple times, and each time, continues to pull themselves up.
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With an internal soundtrack fueled by Willie Nelson’s hit tune, “On the Road Again,” or perhaps with the melody of the Doobie Brothers’ “Takin’ it to the Streets” in your head, it’s time to get back in the marketplace.
When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world with its full fury, it quickly became evident that empathy would rule the day.
If learning how to sell in the “next normal” isn’t difficult enough, there’s a new face at buying conversations these days that’s causing sellers to tear up the playbook and rewrite the conversation.
What does that have to do with sales? If fear, can, indeed, be detected by the human nose, we can also assume that the scent of uncertainty can be picked up by buyers, who seem to have an uncanny ability to know when they have our sales professionals backed into a corner.
For a workforce that is used to earning more immediate dividends on their work, most sales professionals have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, their sales progress is measured in spoonfuls, rather than wheelbarrows. The sales cycle has been extended, and the traditional sales playbook, for many, has been torn up.
Seemingly overnight, the business world, as we know it, has changed, albeit temporarily. However, it’s hard not to imagine that some of these changes might become permanent. People, undoubtedly, will find more ways to be productive in a more virtual workspace – and, as I write this, I and my team are still trying to figure out the rules of engagement.
As sales professionals, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what the selling landscape will look like, both in the near, and long term. But two things are certain: We need to find ways to maintain some level of productivity during these heady times of social distancing and economic turmoil; and, though it’s hard to picture now, eventually, the threat will pass, the clouds will part, and we will need to be ready to resume activities in the new normal.
Ask most sales professionals when they last took time for themselves, and you’ll likely be met with one of three reactions: A pregnant pause while they try to remember; a scoff about the preposterous nature of the question – or simply a blank stare.
Technology has made it a difficult time to be a human during online communication – advances like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and bots have mitigated the need for organic beings to be involved in many aspects of the selling paradigm.
Fortunately for those of us who walk upright, humanity is still critically important – particularly given the importance of consultative selling as a means of resonating with buyers.
So, you’ve embraced the concept of consultative sales training; you understand your responsibility as a trusted advisor to be attentive and to put your client first, and you’re ready to take your new mandate to the field.
But, before you go charging into the unknown, one last question: Are you truly an expert on your client’s business and industry? I mean, have you REALLY taken the time to understand the landscape?