Unprecedented is a very common word today. It is being used in unprecedented ways to describe the current situation. I will use it once more to describe the current situation sales managers, businesses and sales people are struggling with. Sales as a profession has never dealt with anything like this in modern history.
Sales has always been a human contact profession. At its core is meetings, face to face presentations and product demonstrations. Calls and visits have been the lowest denominator of sales activity. Interactions with known and known people has been a driver to sales success. Movement has been an essential requirement for most sales work. The handshake has been an enduring symbol of rapport and closing of a deal.
For sales to happen customers need to have a need for your products, ability to buy them and a willingness to buy. All these factors have been taken away in a matter of days. Unless your business is offering products that can secure people from corona virus or sustain life in this period demand for your product will be limited.
Sales people, particularly those who earn based on sales they generate, have had their income impacted suddenly and significantly by corona. Many will struggle to keep up with their living expenses for prolonged periods. This impact will persist till the pandemic is off the way.
Selling, even in the best of times, is challenging. Now, it is very difficult.
Be Ready for when it ends
But, when this pandemic ends sales will play a key role in bringing businesses and the economy back to life. What form selling will take is hard to predict now but, it is clear it will be determined by the new human behavior that will be born out of this experience and use of technology.
In post corona period people will embrace technology more for interactions and to do business. A lot of professions that relied on physical interactions will use technology to achieve their goals. Online shopping is likely to be more acceptable globally than it has it has ever been. The psychological drivers of human behavior might be modified.
Sales organizations and sales people who will align their sales approaches to this new reality will thrive. Those that will hold to the old ways will struggle and probably become extinct.
What can sales people and organizations do to survive in this period and pull through at the other end of this situation?
1. Live in the current reality
Everyone needs to do what they need to remain alive and physically healthy at this period. Observe all the advice given by experts. An important thing you should remember is that you need the whole of you when the pandemic is over.
2. Be the Chief Optimist
The news around the pandemic are unlikely to inspire you. There is a constant reminder that things will get worse. The result is constant pessimism. This could be the reality but you need to be hopeful and optimistic. In sales the most important quality required is hopefulness. You need to be hopeful for yourself, your business and the entire economy. See the current problem as a temporal one.
Remember that the current disruptions have not made you less capable though your productivity has gone down. Remember that at the end of this situation new opportunities will emerge. Remember that you have what is needed to take advantage of these opportunities.
Connect constantly with your maker and pray if you can. Look out for the little positive knew coming out of the various parts of the world. Read, watch and listen inspirational materials.
Corona virus is bad enough. Work hard to protect yourself from the pessimism virus. Pessimistic people will suffer more anguish as they over play all the negative outcomes out of this. Reality is already tough avoid further imagined suffering.
3. Build Capabilities for the New World
As you wait for the new reality imagine how good it will be for you and your business. Think of the capabilities that will be required in this reality. Think of how you can start building them Get some knowledge of those capabilities. Those who will have travelled to the new world will adapt better to the coming new reality.
If your business had little capacity to produce, distribute or service customers using technology this might be a good time to try it. If it doesn’t work your customers will be more forgiving. But after this you will be well prepared to serve them better when it is all over.
4. Cheer your customers up
Finally, keep in touch with your customers. You can call. You can email, WhatsApp or connect with them on any other platform. Share anything that might be valuable to them. Even a joke to cheer them up will not hurt.
If there is anything you can do for them at no cost, please do it. Recommend their products and services. Review them and if you can buy what they sell.
For now, keep safe and be hopeful.