I recently returned from maternity leave – which, along with my pregnancy, was a 12-month stretch that roughly tracked the COVID-19 pandemic.
As I emerged from my yearlong journey to motherhood – a huge change, to be sure – I noticed that I was having a similar range of emotions to what my non-child-bearing co-workers were experiencing. You see, they, too, have been through a rather life-changing journey – one which has, fortunately, resulted in a return to a sense of normalcy, buoyed by optimism, but with a healthy dose of trepidation.
It turns out that we are not alone in feeling cautiously optimistic about the times we are facing. A healthy proportion of sales leaders agree that we have turned the corner on the pandemic and are now dealing with a level of pent-up demand, the likes of which we haven’t seen since, well, the last global pandemic.
According to NPR, “pent-up demand” occurs when consumers, “after being deprived of being able to do something, when the constraints are lifted – ravenously consume what was previously out of reach.”
NPR cited data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which indicated that the national savings rate has jumped during the pandemic; and a Harris Poll which found that a majority of Americans are ready to splurge on vacations, clothes, cars, and sporting events.
Like that feeling of nervous optimism I experienced on my first day back to the office, many of us in the sales profession are trying to put all of this into context. How, we wonder, do we adapt to a marketplace that has changed so drastically, that barely resembles what we remember it to be? And how do we best tackle a sales landscape that is transforming from famine to feast?
Consider these tips – which, for me, served as a reminder that we, as sales pros, are ideally suited for being adaptive to swings in the marketplace:
- The playing field is level: The universality of the pandemic means that our customers are also experiencing a similar combo of bullishness and caution. We, as trusted advisors, are well positioned to be a voice of reason to them as they weigh their next moves.
- Get your game plan in order: Now is the time to make sure your sales plan is effectively calibrated for an upswing in activity. No longer are we in triage or transition mode – assume that by the third quarter, your buyers will be reaping the benefits of a bull market. They will expect you to be able to keep up. Use this time now to slowly climb back to your pre-pandemic pace.
- Take it day by day: Your sales pros may be tempted to try and conquer the world right now – take it from me, we’re all human, and there’s only so much we can do in a day. Create and stick to a schedule, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to overachieve.
- Be creative: Remember how you rose to the occasion at the start of the pandemic – shifting to Zoom and finding a way to sell from quarantine? Creativity, and the ability to adapt, will again help you rule the day. Be open to experimentation, and don’t get down on yourself it your methods are not working – simply adjust, create, and try again.
For me, the pandemic has almost been like a baby that has needed our full attention. Now, we’re getting to a point where we have graduated to toddler-hood – a time when we can regain a measure of independence. That said, don’t try to hang the moon – take it one step at a time, and embrace the return to normalcy.