As businesses clamor to reopen and businesses ponder what their role will be in their customers’ lives, we now realize that we’re not headed toward a “new normal” — rather, we’re headed toward the “next normal.”
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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.
Through wars, terrorism, and economic crises, the power of working together, and of a shared mindset, has seen us through. But as sales leaders, it can be tough to turn to those around us. Often, the people most familiar with what we face work for our competitors. Simply by our nature, the pressures of competition, and the need to protect proprietary information, sales leaders have chosen to live on islands – islands that, given the current state of affairs, can seem even more lonely and isolating.
In the scramble to adapt to the so-called “new normal,” outcomes such as social distancing, working remotely, stock market volatility, spending cuts, and uncertainty have rendered useless the 2020 go-to-market plans for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies alike.
As you are reading this blog, it is our hope that you are both safe and healthy, and also following the guidelines for helping to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. For the majority of workers, this likely means that we are now working from home – carving out a corner of our living space to continue to MAKE a living.
In our new normal of Zoom calls and Slack messages, sales managers are grappling with an essential truth: How do I keep my now-remote employees productive and engaged? And, in particular, how do I bridge the distance between us with the kind of curated connection that keeps us communicating with purpose?
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.
When last we met, we discussed the importance of embracing change as a means of improving your sales throughput – and further, that integrating new sales strategies is an exercise rooted in patience, and not in quick fixes.
My particular interest around this topic, understandably, is based on observations I’ve made after years of leading our IMPACT Sales training program here at The Brooks Group.
My goal, then as in now, is simple: Get the Sales Training lessons to stick – PERMANENTLY. We’ve trained tens of thousands of sales professionals, and we find that most go charging out of the training room, ready to take on the world. But without a committed, top-to-bottom plan where change is supported and committed to for the long haul, it’s inevitable that the lessons become undone.
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?
The world, today, doesn’t just seem different – it is different. With daily reminders of the power of the Coronavirus, and its companion COVID-19 infection, to bring markets, enterprises – and yes, even normal daily activities – to a sudden, shuddering halt, we are all looking for a way to navigate this new reality.