As the focus on economic recovery takes the front seat in the “new normal,” businesses large and small alike have started ramping up their sales efforts. This is understandable since this pandemic undoubtedly caused heavy losses, and continues to wreak havoc. Consequently, all types of advertisements now proliferate both online (mainly on social media) and offline (through handouts and flyers). The worry for many is that sales are nowhere near pre-pandemic levels.
We asked our resource person on sales leadership, Mr. Louie Villena, for some of his thoughts and tips on how our sales team could remain relevant during these trying times:
First, we should ask ourselves if our sales team’s “ways and methods” are still largely pre-pandemic designs. We would need to recalibrate our systems to conform to the new reality, and ask ourselves: Are we still relevant? How do we make our products or services meet the needs of our customers? What adjustments would we have to make? These are just some of the tough questions that confront us. But we need to remember that it’s not just our business that is reeling from the effects of this pandemic. Our customers are likewise reeling from the same.
Purposeful selling therefore requires us to do a deeper dive than usual. Additional questions include: Are we still connecting with our customers in ways that come across as helping them? Or are we coming across as just enticing them to get their money? Note also that customers today are sensitive and savvy enough to read through the usual appeals or come-ons.
Our recommended process means focusing first on the following:
Before being able to motivate, you need to acknowledge that you too are hurting. If you need help, ask/seek help. This pandemic has humbled us in many ways. We can’t hack this alone. There are many who have even gone to the extent of seeking counseling and even psychiatric assistance. Until and unless you are on the path to personal recovery, you cannot help others recover.
Your staff, your sellers, your business partners are all hurting and therefore pushing them too hard toward their deliverables and quotas could be counterproductive. In fact, it may even be destructive. You need to help them recover first, before pushing them.
“Alalay Sa Kaunlaran Inc. (ASKI) Group of Companies,” a non-stock, non-profit organization committed to the promotion and development of micro and small-to-medium enterprises and the delivery of social services, is one example. At the height of the lockdown, they reinforced their regular “Kumustahan” and “Daily One Hour Devotion” online, making sure that every employee is involved to allay their fears and uncertainties. This was always spearheaded by no less than its CEO, Executives and Key Officers to close to a hundred offices nationwide. By May 2020, all employees were asked to return to work (whether physical or WFH) and paid in full. Noteworthy too is their “psycho-social” interventions to help employees cope with the psychological impact of the pandemic. All this is continuing to this day.
Relentless follow ups, sales calls and the like do not sit well with customers today as they too have their own concerns. To push and push them too much will be a futile effort. After all, selling is not only about convincing or persuading customers. Have you ever called your customers just to check on how they are coping with this pandemic? No sales pitch, no business talk, just a call to show that you care. That is why the “Call Care” advocacy going around the world today makes sense. It highlights that we are not just after their business, but also their welfare during these times.
By showing we care at their time of need, we could count on their custom once the situation gradually recovers.
Villena will conduct a two-hour virtual workshop on “Purpose Driven Selling: Paradigm Shift for Customer-Centricity in The New Normal” on November 20, 2020. The workshop will help those in the field of sales how to be helpful and relevant to their clients during this time. It will discuss also discuss steps on how to qualify prospective customers.