Published on May 19th, 2020 | by Vanita Arora0
Strategies To Keep Your Sales Pipeline Flowing During COVID-19
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on businesses has been humongous. Apart from the fact that they have been forced to switch to the remote working model, the other major implication is probably on sales. Like a majority of businesses, your sales pipeline may probably be in a sad state right now. Global companies are experiencing a big slowdown in leads and opportunities, leaving them scrambling to find fresh opportunities. The only way to survive and get through is to reshape and realign your strategies, as you would have done with the operation model. Essentially, your sales and customer support teams need to adapt to stay on track even during this unprecedented time. There’s no other remedy and you cannot just miss out on this one because revenues from sales are essential to keep your organization alive. Before we move ahead to describe what needs to be done, we will highlight the challenges and hindrances that your teams may be facing right now.
Coping Up- The challenges for sales teams in the COVID-19 crisis
More than anything else, the biggest challenge for reps in the face of the pipeline drying up is anxiety. Apprehensive about the lack of volume, they end up trying to overcompensate with perfect execution. They tend to over focus on the leads in the pipeline and make mistakes that effectively kill them as well. They believe that being extra careful about not upsetting the prospects would help, which rather demonstrates neediness.
In this scenario, they will either lose the deals or negotiate them poorly to the extent that even the ones converted won’t deliver benefits to the company. Further, the mindset of anxiety and apprehension drives the reps to make more mistakes. They may end up falling for irrelevant lead generation tactics such as buying lead lists and spamming leads. Selling to the wrong prospects is another trap they may fall into. This can be expensive in the long run because such customers often require more customer support, bad–mouth your company and churn at a higher rate.
Clearly, coping up with declining sales and a drying pipeline is more than just trying to raise the dwindling numbers; it is also about dealing with this anxiety. And you need to make sure that your reps don’t lose their confidence because things will get only worse if that happens. Now let us shed light on some strategies that you can embrace to keep the sales pipeline flowing and the confidence of your teams on top as well.
Listen to the customers
The most significant element of the sales process is customer expectations and the secret to winning is staying one step ahead of them. As we are in the midst of this global pandemic, it becomes all the more important to listen intently to the existing customers and prospects. Being available is the key because this will encourage the customers to share customer feedback and concerns. Implementing a cloud telephony solution can take you a notch higher on the availability front.
Real-time, open lines of communication with customers and the team empower your business with transparency and collaboration. Apart from resolving caller issues instantly, your contact center team can voice the customer concerns and make the team aware of their expectations. Further, they can even discover patterns and trends in these queries and concerns, which can be helpful for the sales team to understand the prospects better.
Prioritize internal communication
In tough times like this one, internal communication is one of the pillars that businesses stand on. As already explained, the feedback passed over by the customer support team to the sales team can help the latter understand customer expectations and use them for more targeted interactions. Apart from enabling the flow of vital information, smooth communication impacts the team’s morale and adaptability. Obviously, a motivated team is more confident and it shows in the results they deliver for your business.
Good internal communication gives your sales team the opportunity to discuss their bottlenecks, personal experiences and success measures. Apart from having a common knowledge-sharing platform for the team, you can also encourage them to celebrate small and short-term wins while keeping an eye on the long-term targets of the company. Setting individual and collective goals and approaching performance issues with compassion is something that will keep them motivated through the crisis.
Have the right tools in place
If you are a sales-based business, you will probably understand the importance of managing multiple customer relationships across the various stages of the pipeline. Empowering your team with the right tools is critical, all the more in the current phase when sales are challenging indeed. For example, a CRM simplifies and streamlines customer service and relationships in an office but becomes vital in a remote work environment. Not only does it benefit the sales team, but also lets managers to digitally monitor the company’s health.
Similarly, if you don’t have a cloud-based contact center solution in place, now is the time to get it up and running. With features like virtual numbers, IVR, missed call solution and toll-free numbers, it ensures that your sales and customer support teams never miss out on a lead or customer. Reps stay in touch with the customers even while they work from home and they can even hop in and take over each other’s communications in case of absence of a team member. Integrating the CRM with cloud solution takes the tools to the next level.
Optimize the sales processes
Keeping the pipeline flowing is all about improving efficiency, which is best done by optimizing the sales process. Incorporating automation tools across the sales funnel stages is a good idea as they can reduce manual administrative tasks. Your team can save hours of their valuable time and use it for tasks that require more creativity and intuitiveness. Defining a process for the current business landscape is the key to process optimization because the scenario is nothing like anyone has seen ever before.
Right now, you will have to know the sales stages and redefine the metrics. Consider all of the factors affected by this crisis and come up with clear, updated guidelines for the team. Train your agents to expedite the average customer’s journey and take them quickly through the funnel. Right now, the worst thing you can do is to waste. Genuine leads would want to close the deals fast and your reps should be able to identify them and sell to them quickly.
Be quick to react to changing consumer behaviour and sales drops
The situation is daunting now and everybody, including your team, leads and customers, is under pressure. The stress is most likely to impact your sales metrics and customer’s behaviours as well. The best thing in these circumstances would be to react and realign quickly to the changing consumer behaviour and sales drops. Teach your team to handle drops with integrity. First things first, be there for them and have realistic expectations because pressure on the team translates into lost productivity.
Show them respect and expect them to replicate it for each other and the customers as well. Despite the best they give, sales may still drop because it is an organic reaction to the crisis. Emphasize teamwork rather than pressuring people to outperform each other right now. Being empathic towards the customers is equally important; even if you can’t close deals right now, you can score on long-term relationships with an empathic approach.
Encourage the sales team to focus on value
When it comes to keeping the sales pipeline in action, nothing is more important than continuing to demonstrate the value of your goods and services to the current customers. At the same time, your team should make all efforts to prove the potential ones that your offerings can provide ROI that is significant enough to justify its purchase even when money is tight.
The ability to effectively communicate these value propositions can make or break your pipeline at this stage. Although this is a challenging time for doing so, you can win the game with the right messaging. New opportunities for sales prospecting may be scarce now, but prioritizing these key value-proposition messages and ensuring that they are conveyed in all communications will help the teams stay on track even in such uncertain times.
Considering the seriousness of the current situation, your team needs to be careful about how they can keep the pipeline flowing. While you would not want to be perceived as a business attempting to profit from the crisis, but you cannot undermine the importance of selling. Taking the right approach towards your employees and customers can help you navigate these rough waters. While optimizing your existing tools and processes will go a long way in streamlining your inside sales effort, you must also invest in new ones to support your team as they adjust to the remote working model. At the same time, moral support and motivation will boost their confidence and encourage them to give their best even in the crisis.