Pandemic Reality: It’s Time to Realign Your Sales Organization

How effective were you in selling your products and services? How effective are you now in selling your products and services? The answer has probably changed – because the market most certainly has changed, too.

It has taken years of strategic and tactical work to cultivate an effective sales organization with a customer base that values your products and services. In the span of a few months, the pandemic has done more than simply threaten the viability of your sales function. For many sales organizations, it has triggered a tsunami-like setback that demands your attention.

Social Distancing = Customer Distancing

Selling products and interfacing with customers looks completely different than it did this time last year. It will look different going forward. Similar to “social distancing,” we have “customer distancing,” mandating a movement to a more “virtual” commercial organization. This economic disruption has particularly impacted outside sales organizations. You can no longer grab lunch with a client, readily schedule a visit with decision-makers, or conduct presentations in front of key team members.

You can still sell, but your approach needs to evolve.

Pandemic Reality: It’s Time to Realign Your Sales Organization

Seven Market Strategy Factors

Most organizations need to rethink the go-to-market pay strategy and commensurately align expectations to a wildly different set of market realities. 

This assessment needs to incorporate seven key areas. They include:

1. Understanding how existing customers and prospects have been impacted by the rapid market changes

Although more organizations will find that their businesses have been impacted negatively, some are experiencing positive impacts. In some industry segments (protection equipment, disinfectants, pharmaceuticals), sales could even become easier, albeit more competitive. Not all of your customers (or prospects) will have been impacted in the same way. 

You’ll need to consider the pandemic’s impacts on:

  • Revenue
  • Availability of capital
  • Production capability
  • Procurement
  • Supply chain
  • Shipping and logistics
  • Talent/labor

2. Identifying which customers use more than one product or service

You will need to adapt your sales strategy and approach to accommodate customers who are impacted positively in some areas of their business and negatively in others. One size will not fit all.

3. Rethinking the Customer Experience

Customer behavior patterns have changed. The decision-making and buying processes have transformed into a growing reliance on technology. Do you have digital content that provides the brand experience that you want your customers and prospects to have? Does it communicate the value of your products or services? Can you innovate your service delivery model to meet your clients’ needs – and stay competitive?

4. Determining how to personally engage customers in a meaningful way – at a distance

This is not an easy task for some outside salespeople who are not accustomed to a more impersonal and transactional sales process. Some are more accustomed to long-term relationship building and will be challenged by the new approach. It’s a lot easier to say “no” over the phone than it is in person. This will require establishing new processes and building new skills and competencies that will be necessary to be successful.

5. Re-examining what you’re measuring in your commercial function

Changing the selling approach necessitates a complete re-evaluation of the established measures within your commercial function. It’s time to revisit the old metrics and adapt the approach to managing performance in light of revised metrics.

6. Aligning the organizational structure to the new market realities

This inherently means adjusting all commercial roles, responsibilities, reporting relationships, and accountabilities to optimally support the customer and ultimately increase new client acquisition.

7. Adapting the sales incentive plan to align with new behaviors and expectations

This effort will focus on thoroughly linking sales behavior to incentives. How will you retain your top performers? Some organizations may not have done this prior to the pandemic; it’s an absolute necessity to evaluate it now.

Addressing these seven areas is the starting point for aligning your sales organization with the current situation. With the market shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the right time to adjust your approach. You can’t stop the wave, but you can do more than just ride it – you can get ahead of it. 

Findley has structured an approach to facilitate a complimentary rapid assessment of your sales organization, and provide some deeper insight into the areas that you need to consider in refocusing your organization to succeed in today’s market realities. To learn more or to schedule a complimentary session to discuss your sales organization challenges, contact Dan Simovic with the form below.

Published June 9, 2020

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