The Two Biggest Ways Deal Structures Have Changed in 2020

The first half of 2020 has reshaped business globally, but it can be difficult for sales reps and sales leaders to fully understand or address the total impact as they continue to work toward hitting quotas. This scenario can cause increased stress and tension across teams as many people “feel” the difference but are unable to pinpoint the exact shifts they need to make or how to effectively overcome them. 

Sales has always been a balance of science and creativity; both BDRs and AEs need a data-driven approach, one that is malleable and leaves room for empathy and quick thinking. But in the current business environment, “feelings” can quickly overwhelm or cause a sense of hopelessness.

Yes, the sales process has changed. Here are the two main ways deal structures have been affected and ways to keep leads moving down the pipeline. 


Understanding And Empathy

During this pandemic, some businesses are struggling while others thrive. And even within those thriving businesses, some prospects may be overwhelmed with their workloads. Each business or account will face its own new, unexpected challenges that need to be addressed.

With so much uncertainty, your sales pitches or presentations should answer the question: Why now? Word choice and messaging in decks, email cadences, cold calls and more should be updated to ensure they are relevant and personalized, now more than ever.


Buying-side Personas Have Expanded data from May shows a 100 percent increase in directors and a 104 percent increase in executives joining sales conversations compared to pre-COVID levels. One unique addition to the buying conversation has been CFOs, with as much as a 91 percent increase in involvement since March. These professionals may not usually be part of your cycle, so ensure your teams are prepared to speak to them and understand the ROI and financial aspects of your solution. 

Reasons why leadership roles have joined calls or engaged in the process include:

  • Reduced spending decisions
  • Making strategic pivots that require a deep investment
  • They have more time to engage with prospects and customers

Collectively, these changes may have played a role in buyers increasingly requesting longer payment terms. We’ve seen increases in quarterly or monthly payment structures rather than yearly contracts. While it might be a difficult pill to swallow, pricing packages may need to be adjusted as the reality is that flexible payment terms are an increasingly common discussion item. Updated offerings like penalty-free cancellation periods, month-to-month contracts or waiving onboarding fees may help you stand out from your competitors and foster a stronger relationship between brand and prospect.  


Sales Will Always Be A Roller Coaster

All sales reps understand the ebb and flow of their pipeline, but it can be difficult to remember that in times like these. A commitment to a company’s best practices and spending time to review past calls will always be beneficial. You’re not alone in your challenges or frustration, and I believe those who can create a sense of empathy and enthusiasm are able to transfer that to their prospects. While many things have changed in the world, the fundamental skill of meeting buyers where they are will help sales reps today come out on top. 

Dan Templeton is VP of sales, Mid-Market and Enterprise at, the No. 1 Conversation Intelligence Platform for high-growth revenue teams. Founded in 2015, the company’s proprietary AI captures and analyzes customer calls, meetings and emails so revenue teams can identify what top performers do and replicate it across the team. From winning more deals to delivering brilliant customer experiences, enables leveraging insights from your customer’s voice to make better decisions and up-level your team. 

  • Originally published August 27, 2020, updated June 15, 2022