As sales people we're fishermen and fisherwomen of sorts, and right now our inability to be out selling feels very much like being cut off from the high seas.
But this doesn’t have to mean we can't make progress.
Even though we may not be able to do our job in the same way we normally do, there are lots of essential tasks that we can work on to keep up momentum and ensure we hit the ground running when it's time to go out fishing again. Aye Matey!
The 3 Essentials for Being Great in Sales
I read this in some free magazine of dubious quality, but it stuck with me because of it's matter-of-factness in what can often feel like an overcomplicated profession.
There are really just three essential things anyone needs for being great in sales:
1. A winners attitude
2. Sufficient product and domain knowledge
3. Access to the tools and resources to make sales possible
So let’s have a look at what we can do to “repair our nets” when we can’t get out fishin'.
Polish Up Your Attitude
There are plenty of memes circulating right now that suggest different language we can use when thinking about our situation.
We’re not “stuck” at home, for example; we’re “safe” at home.
We’re not staying at home, we’re an artist in residence.
Ok, so some are better than others.
But it’s a question of attitude and mental resilience.
Instead of feeling frustrated that you can’t be out pounding the pavement, hallways and trade show floors in pursuit of new sales, can you shift your attitude to feeling grateful or even excited that you finally have the time to tackle some of the “important but not urgent” tasks that have languished at the bottom of your to do list for too long?
You might use this time to connect with old colleagues, coaches, and mentors. Send them an email (or even snail mail! Egads!) to reconnect, ask what they’re doing, even set up a virtual coffee chat to reconnect.
You could finally join a networking group and share ideas and resources. Many networking groups have an online component or are moving to virtual meetups while the world tries to flatten the curve. Find a group and practice your elevator pitch virtually. There’s no telling who you might meet.
Or you could double down on audiobooks and podcasts. Some of the most successful people in the world make time for education every day; now is the time to get into the habit of building it into your daily routine. I particularly like audiobooks and podcasts because you can learn while doing other things — like when you’re out taking your coveted, socially-distanced walk or run in the fresh air!
Polish up on product knowledge
[After a flub on a video call earlier this week, this section is provided as part personal pep talk / part advice to you, my fellow salty sea-dog.]
Knowledge is one of a salesperson’s greatest assets. It helps us understand and meet our customers’ needs better and more effectively address any questions or objections they have.
But you might find that with the speed of regular life and work, you haven’t had time to stay up to speed on everything you need to know.
Use some of your newfound free time to get up to speed on the features and benefits of your company’s offer. Actually read all the materials marketing is putting out. If possible, dig in and really use your product to understand it from a customer’s point of view. [Noted!]
Arrange a virtual meeting with colleagues to share insights and best practices. You might discover that someone else on your sales team has important information or ideas to share. Or you could make time to connect with colleagues in other departments to understand your product and customers from their point of view.
If you sell a feature-rich product, make a goal of learning a set number of features every day or every week and then really dig in and learn them inside and out.
Your sales when you return to work will surely benefit.
Take a look at your tools and resources
Now is a great time to pause and audit your sales process from a tools and resources standpoint.
For example, do you have a good video calling tool? If so, do you have a great mic and lighting? Can you make sales presentations reliably, on the go, from any device? (If not, I'll show you the way.)
When we’re working at the speed of business, we often “make do” because we don’t have time to research the best solution, make repairs, upgrade systems, or troubleshoot bottlenecks.
But now we have the time!
Think about the bottlenecks in your sales process and brainstorm ways to improve them.
Do you have trouble sharing large files with potential customers? Finding what you need on the fly, when a sales conversation changes tack? Tracking when and how a customer interacts with files you’ve sent? (Psst. Showcase can solve those problems too).
It’s also a good time for cleaning house: updating your CRM, organizing content libraries, documenting policies and procedures, and more.
My next post will be about how to adjust your strategy if you get most of your new leads and sales from trade shows — that are now cancelled or indefinitely postponed. Stay tuned!