How Coronavirus is changing the way we sell

Before a quarter of the world’s population went into lockdown, we were closing sales on handshakes, meetings, travel, and a lot of “social contact”. 

Coronavirus created a seismic shift across the sales landscape. 

It forced businesses to restructure their workplace, processes, pipeline – and for many – their value proposition.

The Time Out I pick up on the way to work is now Time In and it arrives in my inbox. 

My co-workers are now flatmates, pets and partners, and my working week has blurred past the point of separating Monday morning from Friday evening. 

Selling has gone remote. However, at its core, it will always be about building relationships and helping customers. 

It’s just more likely that you’re including CFOs and risk analysts in the conversation now.

Stop selling at people and start connecting with them

Behind every business you speak to there are people and they’re going through the same turbulent times as you.

This is uncharted territory for most businesses and the lines are still being drawn. 

Be someone that they look to. The lighthouse in the storm for both your customers and your internal teams.

Shelve your “why to buy us” dialogue and start opening the conversation to answer the questions people are publicly asking: 

  • How do I maintain visibility when working remotely?
  • How can I better engage with people in the current climate?
  • What tech will improve remote operations?
  • Is this sales process or technology needed?
  • How do we keep our pipeline alive and maintain business continuity?
  • How do we better engage with decision makers?
  • How do I service my existing customers and sell in a new landscape?

Buyer intent and budgets are locked down, but the opportunity to build sales relationships and nurture your pipeline are stronger than ever.

Consider stepping outside of your value proposition, to offer information and human-first connections.

  • Address the hard truths and be honest
  • Host regular, navigable webinars that encourage Q&As
  • Regular emails and updates to your customer base
  • Make your comms a go-to information source
  • Be present and visible in your company and the market

Try bringing some of your old structure to anchor to your working day. 

Whether that’s substituting your stand-ups for a Zoom conference, or heading to the virtual pub for some after-work socialising.

Share the experiences you’re encountering. That might be your new shorts and tie combo, how you’re juggling remote work, or the tech lifelines you’re leaning on.

Become a Zoomer by day and join a Houseparty at night, but just keep everyone connected, aligned and reminded of what’s developing.  

At Ebsta, we leverage Slack’s Standup Alice to report each day on the three Ps. 

  • What progressed?
  • What’s progressing?
  • What’s preventing me?

It helps tie our company together and deliver a connected and collective experience for our customers.

Are you working from the same information at the same time and do you have company-wide visibility of the context you need? 

Is it digestible and can you shape actions from those insights?

You can’t manage what you don’t measure and you can’t track what’s not being recorded. 

  • Are you reporting from the same dashboard?
  • Is your activity driving value?
  • Do you trust the data you have in Salesforce?
  • Is all the information where you need it?
  • Do you have the IT support you need?
  • What’s been lost in translation?

Know that this is temporary

We’ve seen companies, sectors, and entire industries turned on their head overnight. Earlier this week Zoom overtook the combined valuation of every US airline.

Plenty of companies have pushed the pause button on their budgets, but sales confidence will return.

Businesses have started engaging their war-time budgets and many are entering survival mode. It’s a precaution whilst we gauge the length and impact of Coronavirus on revenue lines.

  • Ring-fence your existing customers
  • Resell to your recurring revenue models
  • Make the buyer journey as simple as possible

See the pause as an opportunity to mend your house. What can you do now and what can you introduce later?

  • Update your sales collateral 
  • Review your cadences and performance
  • Up-skill and invest in training
  • Build your social presence

Do you need to change how you’re selling?

What mattered yesterday might not be so critical today and your sales proposition needs to reflect that.

Do you have a war-time solution that you can roll out, or an option to diversify?

It might just be a case of tweaking the messaging, or, approaching your value proposition from a new perspective. 

Dyson and seven of the UK Formula 1 brands are now making ventilators, Brewdog is making sanitizer and Google, Zoom, Microsoft and Cisco are rolling out freemium models.

Do everything you can to keep your customers here for tomorrow.

They might be in trouble, unable to pay, or panicking, but they will also remember how you made them feel and their lifetime value hinges on that.

Their priorities might have shifted overnight and you can’t be precious about the proposition you had. 

  • How can you optimize their remote operations?
  • How can you make your product or service low-touch, plug and play?
  • Will it have an immediate impact?
  • Can you make your service more affordable?
  • Is there a lite version?
  • Can you lower the barriers to entry? 
  • Can you accelerate implementation?
  • Can you negotiate contract length?

Those working in sales need to think like a business because every purchasing decision is now about business survival in uncertain times.

Accept that those major deals in your pipeline might fall through, or be extended, and that we’re now forecasting with heavy fog around us. 

That said, remember that the relationships you build now will pay dividends tomorrow and long after the effects of Coronavirus.

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