Sales / Sales Process

How to improve sales performance during uncertain times

Pratik Dholakiya

May 22, 2020 · 7 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

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As markets dive due to COVID-19, businesses across the globe are feeling a sense of uncertainty. Salespersons, in particular, are unsure about working and selling remotely (which could be a first for many), approaching existing customers for referrals and generating new business, among other things.

During a crisis like this one, salespersons need to adapt quickly and apply revised sales tactics to try to keep the company afloat. Unfortunately, one-third of businesses don’t know what to do in such likely crisis scenarios, let alone help their sales teams.

Don’t make yourself or your sales team vulnerable. Instead, follow these five tips to improve sales performance during uncertain times:

1. Improve the quality of your customer prospects

The priorities of your customers may be different in these tough times. Those who previously focused on growth opportunities (with your help) could now start looking to cut budgets or delay new buys.

Therefore, make sure your sales team conducts continuous analysis to identify changes in consumer demand and has online meetings with existing customers to reinstate the value your business is providing them.

Through this exercise, your sales team can identify areas for improvement in your product or service and propose solutions to the prospects accordingly.

Alternatively, partner with your marketing counterparts to start a newsletter or a podcast, sharing success stories of how your other customers are finding success with your product or solutions.

Your sales team can then share the collateral via email or during a presentation. That way, even if your prospects are skeptical about investing initially, they'll get optimistic about the fact that your business can provide significant ROI to justify the purchase even when money is tight.



2. Implement processes across the sales team

According to the Sales Benchmark Index, a well-executed sales process can improve the team's win rate by 24%, increase the average sale price by 15% and reduce your sales cycle length by 20%.

Often called a routine, protocol, or even a remote work playbook, processes clarify all sales tasks, such as lead generation, follow-ups, cold calling, sales proposals, that every salesperson has to undertake in a specified period.

The need for processes is even more prominent, primarily when the salespeople operate remotely, which in today's scenario is a norm due to the pandemic. And sales managers want to monitor the progress of their teams and quickly address any red flags that pop up.

Improving sales performance gets easier when you and your sales team have a process to follow. And in these uncertain times, a specified process can instill a sense of normalcy into your sales team.

3. Leverage the power of CRM and engage

Essentially, a sales CRM simplifies the process of lead nurturing, centralizes sales operations, and improves customer data accuracy. But more importantly, it enables your salespeople to go after the optimal target customer in terms of scope, budget, and the value of your product or service and keeps them on track.

A CRM tool helps the sales team to filter and actively pursue only qualified opportunities at a scale that reflects high-value solutions.



Here's how you can leverage the power of a CRM:

Contact management and customer tracking

Any prospective customer moves through various stages in the sales process (such as cold lead, warm lead, opportunity) depending on how much interaction they've had with your business. A CRM tool helps your salespeople track each movement and tailor customer conversations accordingly.

Real-time data updating

A CRM tool has the necessary functionality to process customer data in real-time and update your database accordingly.

Reporting

Be it the number of clicks on an email campaign or the number of cold calls; everything is accessible in the form of pie charts, bar charts, and other relevant diagrams. Your salespeople don't need to dig around for information.

4. Coach your sales team with vigor

An American Psychological Association study reports 70% of employees feel valued at work when they have opportunities for growth and development. At a time when COVID-19 is taking a toll on the mental health of people, it's not wise to neglect to nurture your salespeople, especially if you want them to perform.

Hence, prioritize your team's professional development through coaching. Offer constructive feedback and build confidence. Alternatively, get team members to sign up for free online courses on negotiation skills, time management, and customer relationships. When they feel appreciated and empowered at work, their sales performance will improve, which in turn will help your business to grow.



5. Create a routine and stick to it

One advantage of working remotely is the flexibility it offers. However, too much flexibility can lead to poor time management, which is why it's vital to inject a bit of structure into your workdays.

For example, assign a strict time during the day for emails—send pitches, follow up, and set up online meetings. Do this as soon as you begin your day or in the evenings after you've finished doing a bulk of heavy lifting.

Keep in mind the locations and time zones of your clients. No one wants to receive emails during odd hours. Use an email tool to schedule emails if that helps.

Besides, batch similar tasks so that they can be completed quickly. For example, finish making cold calls to five prospective businesses in one sitting. If you have an important proposal to make, pick it up first thing in the morning when your mind is fresh.

Create a schedule and test your actual time against it every day. Promote the importance of routine among your salespeople. Prioritize every sales activity based on urgency.

Final thought

Businesses that emphasize improving sales performance today—motivate, empower, and support their sellers—will not only navigate rough waters smoothly but also enjoy the reward of the increasing win rates later. Commit to improving the performance of your salespeople, and they will commit to your business.

Before you go ...

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