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5 Learnings from Sales Leaders for Selling During COVID-19

There has never been a time in history where global external factors stopped everything in its tracks and literally changed the way everyone lives and works. 

The late Jack Welch used to say if the rate of change on the outside is greater than the inside, then the end is near. While it was important that businesses paused and thought about what the market needed to hear and what actions companies needed to take, now is the time to plot a new heading for growth in the new abnormal world.

Navigating this new normal was a key point of discussion at the recent Stop the Sales Drop Virtual Summit, where 54-plus advisers, experts, CMOs and sales VPs came together to talk about the path forward. 

As we all continue to adjust business and sales strategies, the following key takeaways from discussions with sales leaders at the summit offer insight into where we should be focusing our energy. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what the experts are saying.

 

Radical transparency is more essential than ever.

During the summit, Todd Caponi (author of “Radical Transparency” and former sales and revenue executive for companies like Salesforce and PowerReviews) mentioned, “Consensus selling has always been hard. But, consensus buying when we’re all remote is even harder!”

In this social distancing era, there are no water cooler discussions. Everything is now a formal phone or Zoom meeting filled with other priorities that are continually shifting. 

Key insight: When you increase your transparency in your social, email and live conversations, and show your unique strengths and where your gaps are, then you reduce your prospect’s homework. 

They won’t have to try and find holes in your claims and you’ll build trust, which is more important now than ever. 

As organizational trust erodes, buyers seem to crave it even more. When Edelman surveyed buyers on the qualities they value in a salesperson, they ranked “trustworthy” (47 percent) at the top, followed by “responsive” (44 percent) and “expert in the field” (40 percent). The sales teams that are successful (even now when it seems like no one is buying) are those that are seen as “trusted advisers.”

 

Sales organizations need to renew their focus, clarify goals and align resources.

During a pre-summit interview, John Moore shared that the black swan event forced him to redefine Bigtincan’s sales enablement during this period when very few are buying. 

In the video below, he talked about shifting the focus toward better serving existing customers and capitalizing on where opportunities may lie within those accounts. He needed to work with sales, marketing, account management and leadership teams to adjust their targeted vertical markets and align goals with current economic conditions. He also shared where Bigtincan wants to be in the next 6 to 12 months. 

This is creating a collaborative environment that will stop the sales drop and position sales teams for growth when companies begin to invest in sales tech again.

 

Sales leaders need to prepare for a fight for capital.

During a “Changing the Sales Game” panel, Julie Thomas discussed how sales and account management teams will have two sales cycles: one with their champion, and one with the CEO, CFO and COO who are all looking to cut back their investments after being blindsided by COVID-19. 

That fight will require prospect and customer-facing teams to be much more versed in building a relevant value-based business case and it will need sales process changes. This is the only way sales teams will win with both the “champion” and the C-suite at a time when the future is uncertain. 

 

Training sales teams on how to build stronger relationships using LinkedIn is a must.

At the end of Scott Barker’s session, my partner asked him: “What is the one area that sales organizations should focus on?” His answer: “Learn how to leverage LinkedIn and the personal brands of each individual sales leader.”  

In fact, he believes that a personal brand on social media is even more important than the company brand, as trust lies within the individuals that make up the company.  

This is why Barker talks about going internal and positioning sales teams as thought leaders and subject-matter experts. Marketing should also be involved by helping sales figure out its relevant business story, the personas they will want in their social community, and the “why” behind the content they share. 

But, as many sales professionals know, personal branding is no easy task. That’s why we’re hosting a LinkedIn training, where we’ll share tips and tricks to help you build your brand.

 

The actions you take now will determine your ability to overcome sales plateaus, drops and troughs later.

All this goes to show that when reacting and planning for the future, remember the words of Jack Welch: 

“When the change on the outside is greater on the inside, the end is near.” 

If sales organizations continue to see drops of 50 percent to 80 percent, making necessary shifts now could mean the difference between success and failure.


Kristina Jaramillo, president of Personal ABM and Stop the Sales Drop, shifts the social, email and live conversations for sales and marketing organizations that want to win, protect and expand key cold accounts. Through education, events and personal account-based sales and marketing execution, Jaramillo’s clients are creating $2 million wins with accounts that were unresponsive for five-plus years. Join Kristina’s Stop the Sales Drop community and learn from  the collective intelligence that Jaramillo put together including Todd, John, Julie, and Scott, along with 50-plus other sales and marketing leaders. Also, check out Kristina’s virtual LinkedIn training where you can get all the on-demand sessions for just $99.