How Healthy Is Your Sales Model?
In the wake of the coronavirus’s unprecedented impact, our clients are repeatedly asking two questions.
- What is the long-term impact on my business?
- How can we position ourselves to emerge from the crisis with a competitive advantage
The coronavirus’ economic devastation is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before, so there is no playbook. However, the lessons learned from other economic collapses are clear.
- Weak salespeople will be revealed. Selling has become an order of magnitude more difficult than it was just six months ago. For over ten years, your sellers have been working in an environment of positive economic news and price increases. That ended when the virus arrived. The wind is no longer at their back. Add to that the fact that that buyers in a slowing economy have increased power. That means more pricing pressure, which weak salespeople have always had trouble handling. Salespeople will need to sell consultatively to survive. Transactional salespeople will struggle. As we have repeatedly said in this column, fewer than one in five salespeople have the skills to sell consultatively.
- Selling will be different. Before the pandemic, two out of three distributor customers indicated that they preferred four or fewer face-to-face meetings per year with a salesperson. Three months of Zoom meetings have hammered home how little value most face-to-face interactions are. Your team must be able to sell remotely in order to survive. I know, your team has so much expertise that people want to see you no matter what. Think again. That mindset is contrary to every piece of research and the realities of market forces. Face-to-face selling will always matter, but so will the ability to sell remotely.
The natural tendency is to look at the economic climate and accept rationalizations. You need to be brutally honest. This is a perfect time to focus on your revenue engine. You cannot cut your way to greatness. You will need to grow. “Hunkering down” is a reaction, not a strategy.
The coronavirus is giving many firms the illusion that they are busy. The question is, how well will your team be positioned when you put out all the fires?
Begin by looking at your sales force and answering these questions:
- Can your salespeople execute your strategies to accelerate growth in the current environment?
- Which of your salespeople can learn to sell consultatively instead of being commoditized?
- Can your under-performers be saved and what will it take to save them?
- Do your sales systems and processes support a high-performing sales force?
- Do you have the right sales model? Answer: You have the right model if you are growing faster than GDP plus inflation and reducing your selling cost.
You may have had the “right” sales model at one time. However, everything has changed. The competitive landscape is merciless, customers are more informed than ever, and now there are economic headwinds.
Healthcare professionals are unanimous; the steps that you can take to protect yourself from the coronavirus are quite simple. The same is true of inoculating your business from changing business conditions. Begin by checking the health of your sales model. You can start with this free tool: https://knowledgeworx.com/knowledgebase/sales-force-grader/
Jim Peduto is the Managing Partner and the co-founder of Knowledgeworx, LLC. He is certified in Sales Force Effectiveness. Knowledgeworx is dedicated to working with business owners and CEOs who want to grow revenue, increase profitability and end sales frustration through the use of big data analytics.