The Association of Professional Sales is calling on businesses to adapt quickly to the disruption caused by the effects of the coronavirus and embrace technology to keep sales activity moving.
It will be businesses that react quickly, use technology and have salespeople who feel protected by their employer, that will be the stronger businesses through the pandemic and out the other side.
The Covid-19 pandemic looks likely to result in a period of acute short–term disruption that has the potential to exacerbate an already expected slow–down in economies globally. This is putting acute pressure on many businesses.
Whilst it is understandable to respond by pulling back on investments and curbing some planned spending, we would advise organisations to proceed with caution on this strategy.
The need to step up investment in sales teams and the innovation related to better selling practices (along with the need to keep buying) is crucial to the economy for the immediate and long-term prospects of organisations. During this crisis, we can also benefit from the experiences of recent, global economic events to help our decision making, and be wary of knee-jerk reactions that may not deliver the intended results.
During the last financial crisis, it was apparent that organisations which adapted quickly and doubled their efforts in re-positioning and speaking to customers were the organisations that thrived best through the downturn. Notably, they grew most as the economy re-grouped. They were the ones that invested in their sales operations.
They saw that this was the time to give sales professionals the support they needed to stay motivated, developing a problem-solving mind-set, with the information and skills to add value to their customers. This sat alongside feeling protected by their employer.
“An event rarely results in the outcome, rather the event plus our response is where the sales outcome lies,” says Alison Matthias, Sales and Marketing Director at the Association of Professional Sales.
“Now more than ever sales leaders and sales individuals need to take time to reflect on what proactive things they can be doing to upskill their teams and anticipate the needs of their customers. By responding quickly and creatively they can still positively influence this situation”.
Unlike the financial crisis of 2009, the impact of Covid-19 will have far reaching effects to a wide range of sectors at the same time. We know that sudden changes in buyer behaviour and reduced budgets, (and likely no reduction in targets), will make the lives of sales teams more pressured. This will also happen in the context of increased concerns and stress regarding concern for family and community. Doubling workloads and effort may only serve to increase operational costs with minimal impact.
A flexible, growth minded and learning sales force that is able to adapt has never been more important and will put businesses in a stronger medium to long-term position. The Association of Professional Sales is here to support our members and the wider sales community with the tools and learning to be more effective and more adaptable.
APS Sales Ambassador, Mike Hurley, suggests: “Given the conditions we are all about to live through, there is an opportunity to take some time and reflect on the way we are providing value and differentiation to our customers. As innovation pervades the value chain, sellers must migrate quickly from one competitive position to another, creating new ones, depreciating old ones, and matching rivals.”
In order to step up our efforts, we are launching a series of webinars, normally available to members only, to the wider sales community to help with the immediate challenges of selling differently. This includes selling remotely, managing sales professionals remotely and staying motivated, resilient and innovative.
Sales professionals will need support over the next few months; there is a reality that bonuses may be affected, and motivation may be an issue. The support they receive will be the value that enables salespeople to deliver results now, and for the rest of the year.