• Harinie Sekaran

5 things every Sales Rep needs to be doing right now

Updated: Jun 19

We are living in unprecedented times. Neither our parents nor even our grandparents lived through the last global pandemic. Governments across the world are scrambling to get ahead of the virus and entire countries are going into lockdown.

Today is Day 1 of India’s lockdown. This lockdown or quarantine is essential for our survival, but it also endangers something that is equally important for mid-term and long-term survival; a focus on business, directly impacting the economy.

Do you feel like everyone around you is discussing #Coronavirus and tracking live updates while paying very little attention to work? This is normal in the beginning, but unless we all rally and do what we need to do, life after the 21-day lockdown could be very, very difficult. So, if you are a sales rep looking to just do your job, here are a few tips to move your deals forward.

1. Approach with empathy

I cannot emphasize this enough. You do not know the situation of the person you are trying to call or email. So, always begin the conversation with an inquiry about their well-being. Ask after their families and colleagues. Instead of looking at this as an impediment to your sales success, see it instead as an opportunity to connect with your prospect on a more intimate level. If this is genuine and heartfelt, I have noticed that most prospects offer up their time themselves to move the deal forward. If they do not, find out gently if they still want to talk at the time they originally suggested.

2. Identify less impacted verticals and target them

If your prospects belong to multiple industry verticals, identify the ones that are least impacted by shut-downs and quarantine. Target only those segments in the next month. For example, while restaurants are shutting down, grocery stores are facing demands they cannot meet. More and more of them need to offer delivery options for better safety. I imagine that Amazon has a rush of orders that it cannot handle. Understand that it is not business as usual for anyone and approach your prospects accordingly.

3. Change your messaging

Is your product something that can actually help businesses in current times? Change your messaging to reflect this. All physical businesses are now in a time of crisis. Can you help them go digital in some way? Do you have an offering or can you create an offering that can be offered digitally? Now is the time to think fast and act even faster. Align your messaging with what businesses are going through at the moment.

4. Offer freebies

Audible just made their entire content for children/students free. I have never used Audible consistently, but now, I do, for my daughter. As my daughter listens to nursery rhymes, I have realized that I can listen to books too while I am cooking, doing household chores or driving. As a busy mother and businesswoman, I am definitely going to use Audible post the lock-down because it is an amazing way to keep reading. I am an audio-book convert (previously hated listening!).

Times of stress make people realize that they need things they previously didn’t. If your product is conveniently available for free to experience, you might just win a life-long customer.

In the B2B space, this is a great time to create free trials or POCs. Busy decision-makers now have more time on hand because they are not in as many meetings. Decisions will be hard to get at this time, but if they experience your value proposition now, they might come back to purchase later.

5. Alter your sales plans

This one is for management, but in a sense, it is also for individual sales reps. We all need to understand that a paradigm shift is happening. After 21 days or a month, at whatever point the pandemic is under control, things will become normal. But there is going to be a new normal. I expect that things will be different for the next 5-6 months. There will be better predictability around the business from 6-9 months onwards.

9 months is a long time. If you want your business to survive and grow, you need to be re-defining your strategy and goals right now. Focus on customer retention, on offering products/services that can help businesses at this time. Be as empathetic as you can with everyone, employees and customers alike. You might actually be one of the few businesses that grow during the Coronavirus crisis.

Individual reps need to take a hard look at their pipeline and:

  1. Focus on winning the deals that are about 80% into the pipeline

  2. Focus on soft touch for early and mid-stage leads.

  3. Spearhead the creation of content around your product for a soft touch.

  4. Assess new prospects from the POV mentioned in point 2.

Yes, deals will get delayed, but you can minimize the damage by being prepared.

© 2020 by Leadle Consulting LLP

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