By Leslie Tedgui:
We all know that Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on the European economy: the EU saw its sharpest drop in GDP for more than a decade in the second quarter of 2020 and the number of employees temporarily absent from work rose by over 80%. Despite government aid, companies are struggling and need to find ways to revive their businesses.
In this situation, sales departments are the first port of call when it comes to getting businesses back on track and ensuring growth. More than ever, sales representatives play a key role in their organisation and must change their approach to achieve the best possible results. What changes should be made and supported?
1. Shaking up traditional ways of working
The “classic” sales process with multiple face-to-face meetings is, in many cases, no longer an option. New restrictions are forcing sales representatives to review their way of working and to adopt digital technology.
Inevitably, the relationship between sales representatives and potential customers is different now and discussions via video conference are becoming the norm. For professionals unfamiliar with digital technology, this change can be problematic: how can they continue to enjoy relaxed discussions and develop genuine relationships with clients without being in the same room?
What’s more, explaining models and concepts is difficult without a whiteboard or paper documents! Consequently, it is vital to be able to convey even the most complex ideas using digital tools. To ensure that meetings aren’t too transactional, sales representatives must change their approach. Their objective: to remain clear, inspiring, compelling and convincing in an environment which is 100% virtual.
2. Developing soft skills
Current circumstances require sales teams to develop their soft skills – the unique, non-technical “human” skills. These are the only skills which cannot be automated in the medium term. They involve human relationships, emotions and complex thinking.
Internally, sales representatives face an increasing number of challenges. To cope with the demands and the pressure of their role, they must focus on managing their emotions, particularly stress. They must keep a cool head and stay focused on their goals, all while demonstrating agility and resilience.
The ever-changing and uncertain situation in which they find themselves demands a responsive approach and real adaptability. Lastly, sales representatives will need to learn how to manage their own managers: pressure about figures and meeting targets often comes from higher up.
When working with customers, sales representatives must work on their active listening skills and their empathy. After all, this crisis has affected everyone and customers are having to deal with their own issues: anxiety, uncertainty, pressure and limited budgets, to name but a few. By working on their emotional intelligence, sales representatives will be able to understand their customers’ situations.
It is their job to reassure their customers and to establish credibility, which requires perfect knowledge of customers’ issues and their latest news.
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3. Expanding their scope
In times of crisis, priorities inevitably change. As a result, some activities become essential while others take a back seat and resources must be allocated as needed.
Sales representatives’ particular specialisations (in a sector, an industry, a type of customer, a geographical area, etc.) may therefore be called into question.
Sales teams must diversify their skills to respond to the most urgent needs: this requires real agility and adaptability! From one day to the next, sales representatives must be able to work in an environment which they know little or nothing about.
Why use digital coaching to support sales teams?
In these uncertain times, digital coaching has never been more important for sales representatives:
- it helps them to overcome what’s holding them back and their limiting beliefs so that they can discover their true potential. In this way, sales representatives who commit to digital coaching will become aware of what is hindering their performance and will quickly be able to develop their themselves.
- the personalised support of an experienced coach is particularly effective when it comes to developing soft skills, including agility, resilience and empathy. These are vital for today’s sales teams and can be acquired during one-on-one coaching sessions.
- they can familiarise themselves with the digital setting, learning how to develop relationships remotely. Coaches who work with video conferencing tools are experts when it comes to developing relationships and building trust without physically meeting each other. Sales representatives can develop a better understanding of this skill during coaching sessions and then replicate it with their own customers.
To find out more about the impact of digital coaching on sales teams, contact us!