Have you been leaning on your sales reps to produce something, anything, since the COVID-19 crisis began? As a result of the increased pressure reps are feeling, they may not be pursuing the right kind of customer. It’s nerve wracking to be in charge of a sales department right now. Sales pros realize that many people have already lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. At this point, they’re scrambling to keep you happy and to stay employed. The problem with this mindset is a lack of focus.
“Do you know what creates frenzied salespeople?” asks David Yesford. “Activity for activity’s sake.” Dashing around to look busy isn’t a sales strategy. It’s usually a knee-jerk reaction to a bad situation. As the sales manager, it’s your job to provide guidance and direction. And, right now, your reps may need more guidance than usual.
Remind them to focus on the fundamentals. The usual principles still apply. After a few dozen cold calls, your reps may be ecstatic that a prospect is willing to talk to them. That doesn’t mean the prospect is in a position to buy. Your reps need to conduct the proper discovery on a prospect.
If prospects aren’t really in the market for what your reps are selling, warning flags should go up. Encourage your reps to find out if the prospect has been talking to any of your competitors. If they have, that’s evidence of an intent to buy. If not, the prospect may just be lonely and want to talk with someone during this time of social distancing.
Another purchase intent signal is all about budget. Make sure your reps get the budget question answered before they spend too much time with a specific lead. If the prospect doesn’t have the budget to pay for your product or service, your rep should tap the brakes and move on to other leads.
The Right Kind of Customer
Your reps may be reaching out to leads that won’t always be a good fit for your organization. If your reps must make big concessions to get a deal done, caution them to slow down. Prospects know they are in a position of strength during this pandemic. They may be counting on your organization to toss in extra training or customer service for the long term. These concessions don’t sound so bad because you want to show some kind of progress toward department goals.
But, think ahead a few months. How much extra work will this customer require from your organization? Will your account management and customer service reps be overwhelmed by the deals you’re making now? Is this prospect likely to turn into an account that eventually ends up in collections?
We’re all feeling the pressure to close business right now. Don’t let your reps cut corners just to get a signature on a piece of paper. Coach them to pursue the right kind of customer and to let the rest go.