We realised that our world is very different from what we used to know before the pandemic hit us in early 2020. Despite several advances in science and technology, the virus couldn’t be prevented, even after its onset, we couldn’t tackle it; doctors and the entire medical fraternity have been experimenting for the last many months of tackling it firmly. The sight of crowded streets, heavy traffic and busy market places is gone. Millions of people are now devoid of their usual sources of livelihood. The air is a lot cleaner now and hopefully, it will have some positive impact on the environment. Governments are trying to stimulate their sagging economies by injecting hope, investments and demand-boosting measures. Given this context of shrinkage in the GDP, how can companies do sell their products and services better than others?
Buyers whether corporates or individuals have become conscious of social distancing and have been avoiding in-person interactions. They prefer exploring choices and listening to their peer groups and other influencers to meeting a salesperson and hearing a pitch from him or her. If a consumer used to buy some goods from a retailer or consume some service at a favourite place, the habits and preferences are changing. People are shifting to online modes, home delivery or avail at home. If one has to busy something like a house or a car, many have preferred to delay the purchase or buy it through remote interactions. Such changes have been quite significant around the world. McKinsey and Co have published a research report in October 2020 about the changes in consumer behaviours.
Leaders have to listen to their salesforce who have adapted to the new normal painstakingly and are in closest contact with the buyers – existing as well as prospective. They have to see the patterns emerging for their industry and specifically for their company. Accordingly, they need to orchestrate the changes needed in their sales efforts.
The markets have shrunk but there is certainly a way to improvise one’s methods and win a larger pie of the smaller market. Traditionally many organisations focused on branding, advertising, supply chain and promotional efforts rather than looking at the possible improvements in selling and its effectiveness. However, in the current context, one has to focus on these two aspects seriously.
We have to invest efforts and time in raising the capability of our salesforce. Secondly, we need to listen to all their inputs, work upon those inputs and evaluate the ideas and suggestions put forth by them. This is critical because the traditional methods need a change now; moreover, these changes have to be in alignment with the changes happening in the marketplace. For example, the consumer value proposition might have to be tweaked and the salesforce needs to know the revised value proposition so that they can leverage upon it to secure more sales.
There could be opportunities for discovering new markets. For example, hotels and restaurants have faced serious challenges due to a severe decline in demand for their services. Some of them have innovated a new way of engaging with their customers, taking orders on the phone and through various Apps, serving food and beverages at the customers’ doorsteps. This new segment has suddenly emerged and has helped them generate some revenues. Similarly, the market for video conferencing has skyrocketed; the same is the case for various other e-commerce platforms. Companies that did not have a strong e-commerce channel, have built their own or tied up with other forces in the market to sell their wares and generate revenues.
Companies that relied on walk-in customers or B2B selling methods such as in-person meetings have to discover new methods of delivering a similar experience to their customers through alternate channels such as video calls, phone calls, apps, direct mails and digital advertising.
As long as the pandemic stays alive, well-being will continue to remain significant in every setting we walk into. Organisations have to recognise this and weave it into their practices. Salesforce being the face of the organisation must feel proud of their belongingness to their organisation and as a result, they deliver superior service and excellent value to the customers. Sales will naturally outperform!
This is the time to strengthen the social and emotional capital in the hearts and minds of the employees. Leaders have to integrate these into their day to day running of the business. And at the same time, they have to innovate ways of engaging with their workforce and developing them in the context of remote-working.
Leaders hold the key to boost the morale of the salesforce, raise their capabilities, reinforce their tools and improvise the methods which ultimately yield lasting value for the customers.
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