Predictions for a Post-Pandemic Sales World
Today felt like any other quarantine workday for me:
Feed the dogs.
Send out some Slacks letting everyone know that our VP of Sales, Mark McWatters is joining Cara Felleman (Resy.com) and Scott Barker (Saleshacker) on a webinar.
Eat an odd assortment of foods that don’t normally go together from our dwindling quarantine snack pantry.
Open a google doc to take notes on the aforementioned webinar so that later I can write a cool recap.
Move on mechanically to the next task on my never-ending list.
But, after today's webinar, something pretty great happened: I slowed down, let what I’d just heard really sink in, and now I’m passionately writing this unplanned blog post.
Today's discussion, originally about conducting better sales coaching convos, morphed into what felt like a tiny group therapy session for hundreds of people just wanting to be there for each other in these uncertain times.
The public live chat during the discussion, normally populated with sparse questions and errant complaints about sound or video quality, was instead a free-flowing repository filled with insight, encouragement, and gratitude. In short: It felt really special to be there today to me and I hope the recording does it justice.
However, the part that's making me stop what I’m doing and write this post right now happened when Scott asked Cara and Mark to provide their predictions for where we’ll be as sales people when the pandemic dust has finally settled.
I want to share those predictions with you, now, and I hope they give you some hope and encouragement today, too:
“What can we expect to see happen in sales post-COVID?”
*Note: All predictions are paraphrased from my notes because I don’t have the recording yet, either!
1.) People will look for vendors that can consolidate product offerings, remove barriers to entry for new customers, and prescribe solutions that help them stretch budgets further than before.
2.) For sellers, it’s not going to be business as usual: Empathy levels will have to be turned up a notch. People are hurting. People are scared. They need help, not hard pitches.
3.) As a result, “pressure sales" is not going to be the norm and we’re going to have to think about urgency in a different way because what felt “urgent” before this will fundamentally have shifted.
4.) She goes on to clarify, and I love this, "People are going to take their time and be more meticulous in their decision-making.” COVID-19 has forced freezes and droughts, and people will just be thawing out. We will *all* have to shift our expectations and respect these shifting timelines.
In the end, Cara is confident that we’ll all bounce back, but the world will be different and what we thought was true before as sales professionals will just look a little different, too.
1.) “Look. It has to be said - People will shake hands again! - I’m a hand shaker. I miss it!” - you heard it here first, folks! I, personally, look forward to a firm Mark McWatters handshake when this is all over!
2.) Old school, by-the-book, Fortune 500 companies will learn that a lot of their frontline employees are going to actually flourish by working remotely. In fact, they he won’t be surprised if sellers at these companies actually outperform their former selves. He predicts that, some not all, will even take their previously stringent “no remote” policy and loosen up a the reigns a bit leading to better results.
3.) Mark called back to his favorite learning from his recent stint on the road at Chorus’s “Flip The Script” Tour
alongside sales thought leader Josh Braun: Make more deposits with your prospects than withdrawals.
A deposit, in this context, means providing real value in the form of content or consultation without expecting anything immediately in return. When this is all said and done, the brands that survive will have sales teams that provide value first and do it consistently and authentically.
4.) Last, but not, least, Mark predicts that more 1:1 conversations and daily conversations with reps will revolve around tone. Do they sound empathetic? Are they pissing people off? Do they know how to navigate these conversations? How can you, as a sales leader, help?
1.) The old way of prospecting is dead: "Spray & Pray won’t work.” AKA aggressive, impersonal LinkedIn prospecting will finally go away.
2.) As a result, sales orgs that will survive will realize that this kind of prospecting tactic actually never worked. Today’s climate has just elevated the conversation of what it means to be in sales and survive, and we’re all going to change for the better
In short — there is a silver lining for sales people, for consumers, for marketers, and for anyone that values authentic, empathetic communication: We’re going to be ok as long as we all take this time to listen, support each other, and learn from our past mistakes.
We can't let these uncertain times make us lose sight of who we are and who’s on the other end of the line.
I don’t know about you, but I feel just a teeny bit better and I hope you do, too.
Stay safe, healthy, and human out there!