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Sales Empowerment During a Downturn

Darius Fekete< Darius Fekete April 14, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues on, we’re already experiencing the immense consequences it is sure to have on business. The initial events and reactions are disrupting supply chains and adding volatility in financial markets while altering options for social interaction. The net effect of this disruption is that we see a new normal in global growth – and following that, opportunities for profound transformation. But in the immediate time frame, this crisis is having two unique impacts on sales functions:

  1. Increased pressure to expedite transitions to a fully digitised customer journey
  2. An extended purchasing cycle due to economic uncertainty

Change might trigger various responses from organisations to guide their teams in difficult times. To support entrepreneurship among their reps, sales managers should follow these 3 key guidelines:

Be flexible

Availability and substance are key to virtual engagements. Since most of your conversations will be over videoconferencing, you have less options to read the room. Make sure to prepare insights, ideas, and benchmarks that make your customer feel that their time spent on the call was well invested.

The crisis is an opportunity to show that you are a true partner to your customers. However, don’t change your list prices, they are harder to recover. If you give discounts, those should be flagged as “special” terms. Instead, consider allowing volume commitment extensions, eased payment terms, consignment options to reduce the risk of uncertain demand.

Being remembered as someone who helped solve challenges during the crisis will pay-off in recovery.

Read: To Be An Ally, You Must Be Agile

Execute in alignment

Tune the messaging across sales teams and be on-time with learning what works in the field. Demand crises typically require special messaging. Growth and efficiency arguments become less relevant. Demonstrating ways to manage risk and articulating cost reductions will support the sales team to keep an ongoing conversation with customers.

Set up a deal war room to review special cases. Support your sales team with being available for discussions and providing rapid insight.

If your team has freed up bandwidth, use the opportunity to explore virtual engagement best practices and create strategic plans to grow after the downturn.

Leverage digital

Sales teams using digital commerce solutions adopt faster to new realities. Delivering relevant negotiation options and value messaging to the sales rep will support them in winning the deal. CPQ platforms offer a fantastic way to guide reps and deliver new playbooks designed to the new sales reality. Capture feedback by measuring relevant KPIs (e.g. win-loss rates) to swiftly adjust sales playbooks.

AI-supported prioritization for engaging customers will help the sales team  schedule their time. Early signals on customers requiring attention reduces churn risk and allows you to focus on your largest contributing customers. Acquiring new customers is always more costly; commercial insight will help your sales team to identify cross-selling opportunities.

Sales empowerment should not take a backseat during the time crisis. Any adjustments to current practices should lead to a strengthened platform for better execution.

Most likely your solution providers have told you during sales cycles that they “partner with you.” Now is the time to deliver on that. Reach out to them and ask how can they help, ask for advice, benchmarks, best practices.

If you’re a Vendavo customer, reach out to our Value Consulting team to discuss how we can help you during these volatile times and set you up for a stronger growth in recovery. Learn how Corning did it in this success story.