Waiting for the new normal, next normal, or whatever the post-COVID markets may look like once they stabilize, is not an option for most of you in the sales business.
With most businesses still reeling from the economic impacts of the first half of 2020, and with a few months remaining this calendar year, it’s time to end the bemoaning, wound-licking, and belly-aching; to reset the tables; and to focus on real solutions to maximize your revenues right now.
In talking to sales leaders throughout the pandemic, and through our own experiences in coaching and training sales professionals, we have assembled four “must do’s” to rescue your 2020 sales goals. We hope these tips will help you to reset and focus the sales efforts of your team, in a bid to win 2020.
Target your best market segments: Not all segments are performing the same. It’s entirely possible that there are some products or offerings in your stable that are outperforming the rest, in terms of growth and sales potential. Now is the time to realign your resources to take advantage of the strong performers. Hopefully, you have a mature analytics program or good data, and can use it to focus in on what product segments and market segments are able to produce revenue, and hopefully growth, for your company.
Another thing to consider: If your sales professionals have aspired to target a key account, or to open up a new market segment, now would be a great time to consider backing them in that bid, if the opportunities are adjacent and easy to enter.
Dive deep into existing accounts: It can be difficult to build new relationships virtually, though we’ve seen that it can be done, with the right investment of time and strategy. Given that companies are looking to finish 2020 strong, it’s never been more essential to look inside existing accounts, since they traditionally make up about three quarters of the average company’s revenue portfolio.
There are two ways to approach this deeper dive – first, consider asking your client to participate in a “business review,” to better understand your buyers’ goals, pressures, and aspirations for quarters three and four. Second, encourage your sales pros to break through the chains of conventional thinking. They should be discussing your entire range of products, or at least those offerings that might be compelling to other divisions, or with new connections at your buyer’s company. And be ready to discuss how you are performing as a supplier. Don’t shy away from bad news – if you won’t discuss it, your competitors definitely will!
Focus on your “high-value” message: Often, in your markets, you typically can find more generic offerings that we’d call commodities. And, in our experience, it’s rare to get buyers excited about commodities during a presentation. So, how do you reshape the discussion so you can laser-focus on the things that they truly want? To quote a line from Aaron Burr in the musical “Hamilton,” you want to be in the room where it happens. By this, we mean positioning yourself as a strategic partner – someone with whom your buyer can brainstorm and develop unique and creative solutions to pervasive challenges. This is less about pushing a product, and more about conceiving alternatives that aren’t of the vanilla or garden variety.
Understand, before you price: It’s a challenging time, and companies are applying a fair amount of base-price pressure, given that there’s been a tendency by eager sales professionals to discount quickly. In the past, we have discussed the idea of price integrity, and how important it is to protect the value of your offering. That said, we’ve seen companies apply creative thought around adjusting the terms and conditions of deals – things like adjusting warranty time periods or the minimum order quantities, or waiving freight charges, for example.
This might also be the time to work collaboratively with others in your company who are known for keen negotiating skill. It doesn’t always have to be up to the sales representative to get to the final agreement. Bringing in a partner who is good at negotiating and at strategic thinking might just be the missing piece to protecting your margins.
What are you, as a sales leader, doing to help win 2020 within your sales organization? We’d love to hear from you.