How to Lead Through Extended COVID-​19 Sales Disruption

BY Kathy Crosett
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As we prepare for continued COVID-​19 sales disruption, it’s likely that the sales department has been the most seriously impacted in most organizations. Instead of relying on established personal relationships, sales reps need coaching on new ways to build trust with prospects. And the sales department will need to optimize use of technology to connect with clients, deliver value and remain agile in the face of constant change. These key facts come to us from the LinkedIn State of Sales Survey 2020.

New Communications Methods

The LinkedIn survey finds that well over half of sales professionals are using more video, email and phone outreach to clients and prospects. That data supports what reps and managers told us in our State of Media Sales Survey.

However, rushing to use these communication methods in the absence of traveling to in-​person meetings doesn’t make anyone an expert. Managers should be reviewing best methods with sales reps. For example, to ensure quality video calls on the overloaded internet, reps may want to avoid the 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. peak times. They should also avoid sending ‘just keeping in touch’ email messages. Buyers are overwhelmed with incoming email communications and may block your reps if the messages don’t contain value.

Establishing New Relationships

We all know that existing customers can be the best source of business. But the COVID-​19 sales disruption has brought some industries, such as leisure travel, to a complete standstill. Clients in those industries won’t be sticking to any kind of intended buying schedule until later in the year. To build sales, your reps will need to reach out to develop new business relationships. When they do, they should remember what buyers want. In our Selling to SMBs Survey, B2B buyers told us they want to deal with reps who know the product or services they’re selling (59%), know the buyer’s company and business (43%), and can provide relevant ideas to help with the business (45%).


While all of your reps are likely struggling to get meetings and close deals right now, some individuals are likely performing better than others. Your sales superstars possess some inherent characteristics that can’t be duplicated. But other key sales skills can be taught with the use of a coaching system. When you combine a coaching system with a sales assessment test, you’ll be able to personalize the advice and help you give to lower performing reps. The LinkedIn survey results shows that top performers regularly use the automated tools available to them. This practice improves their efficiency and may be a good place for you to start in your organization.

COVID-​19 Sales Disruption

None of us knows how long we’ll be operating in the COVID-​19 sales disruption cycle. Sales managers who quickly refocus their teams to conduct business with video chat tools will have a leg up on their competitors. When they adopt agile behavior in terms of coaching reps to properly engage with buyers and provide access to good sales technology, they’ll be able to cover a lot of ground between now and the end of the year.