COVID-19 is hurtling us into a new, unknown, world at mind-numbing speed. For us sales people, it would be tempting to stubbornly hold on to our old world, the world we know. But the scary new world will bring opportunities, too, particularly for SaaS and Cloud solutions. Organisations are going to need our help. Digital transformations will see a huge acceleration the coming period – in some areas. The ability to pivot and respond to all this change is going to be key for sales professionals. Here are a few practical suggestions to get you into the right mindset.
1. Redo your territory plans and re-prioritise your accounts.
Industries likely to suffer this year are airlines, hospitality, automotive, apparel, durables and sports & gaming. That doesn’t mean they’ll stop spending, but they will stop all non-critical initiatives. Industries likely to shift more budget to the cloud will be online retail, food retail, government, telecoms, health, pharma, education, media, utilities, waste management, equipment & manufacturing, construction, defence, and professional services like finance, HR, and maintenance. Domestic logistics and some tech is going to go through the roof. The ABC model works really well to help re-align your focus on the right accounts.
2. Don’t try to sell
If you previously were struggling to find the elusive ‘compelling event’, COVID-19 is the biggest one you will ever experience. So call the prospects and customers who you believe you can help and offer just that. Don’t try to sell. Just listen, listen, listen. Understand their worries and pains, see how your offering can be part of the solution and get ready to move very quickly. Budgets will shift overnight and you want to be ready.
3. Be flexible
If there simply is no budget, but you still can help, consider running things for free for a while, or loosening other terms. The reward will come later. Access to the top (decision makers) is easier in times of hardship and this will lead to strong relations that will last a long time; they won’t forget you were there to help out.
4. Don’t oversell
You should never do this but in these times you’ll need to be extra careful. You’re not only complicating already challenging situations, you could put companies out of business if your solution doesn’t do what was envisioned and only brings more distraction. Reputation damage done now will last for a long time so if you have any cowboys in your team, reign them in.
5. Re-do your sales pitch
Your old pitch might be tone-deaf to the new pains. Redefine the benefits of your solution in light of this new world. For instance, online collaboration, security, automation, and scalability (up and down) will now be higher up the needs ladder.
6. Consider restructuring your sales teams
Working from home while going through the biggest change your organisation has ever seen is going to require more support and oversight. Create smaller teams or explore getting outside help to keep everyone focused and engaged.
7. Be grateful and help others.
If you still have a job, particularly if you are in SaaS sales or anything to do with cloud – be grateful. There are thousands of others out there who are in much more vulnerable industries and positions and who will pay a much bigger price than your dent in commissions. My previous article provides some practical tips on staying positive when facing challenges.