The Coronavirus pandemic and economic shutdown will pass at some point, but it’s not too early to consider some of the sales lessons we can learn from the experience. The shift from face-to-face to virtual interaction has forced sales reps to rethink their approach to the sales process, and it’s possible that some of these changes will last long past the pandemic subsides and the economy stabilizes. One of the most important lessons is how institutional changes, such as working remotely, impacts some of the character traits that are central to staying productive in the changing sales landscape. Refining these traits is key to being better prepared for the remarkably different sales environment we face now and, potentially, in the future. Here are some vital lessons from this unprecedented shutdown to help you remain a trusted partner to your customers and clients in the times ahead:
Resilience: This is one’s ability to bounce back from difficulty. Whether it’s a lost deal or having to adapt and shift in our sales processes, learning resilience is key to staying productive. It’s a skill all of us can master. It requires shifting our ways of thinking about problems and solutions. Central to this is not letting past failures cloud our judgment. While self-reflection is a big part of growth, being resilient means focusing on the future, not the past. Like a star athlete returning from an injury, we must trust in our skill set to face each challenge with a positive mindset and not dwell on past negativity.
Thinking Outside the Box: Over time, we become set in our ways and only see things from our limited experience. Going outside this can seem daunting, but it is essential to finding new solutions. If you built a routine on effectively connecting with clients face-to-face, familiarize yourself and role-play leveraging technology to express your unique personality to engage with clients remotely. As our need for virtual selling is now vital to our success, this skill will pay dividends long after things return to normal—or whatever normal will be.
Adaptability: For many sales professionals, adaptability started the moment they began working from home. Working out of a home office to meet with colleagues and clients virtually can be a challenge, with a barrage of distractions waiting around every corner. Remember, change is constant. Today, it’s the pandemic, but tomorrow will bring new challenges. Our need to adapt must remain consistent to meet whatever the future holds.
Open-Mindedness: Think back to when you started a job and learned new procedures or were introduced to a mentor whose stories inspired your thinking. At the time, your mind was open to new experiences, and everything was an exciting adventure, like your first big presentation. An open mind lets us see possibility in every challenge. Those who can approach the economic shutdown with an open mind will be best positioned to find new ways to engage with clients and form the productive, long-lasting relationships that remain central to the selling experience.
New Opportunities: An important lesson from the economic shutdown is the need to find opportunity in the challenges we face. Remember, your clients are also confronting changing priorities and needs. What worked for them in the past may not work for them now. It’s incumbent on sales professionals to recognize this new reality and put themselves in their client’s shoes to find creative solutions that will help solve their problems. Every change brings disruption, but those sales reps who can find the opportunity will better serve their client’s needs, no matter what changes come about.
The Coronavirus pandemic and economic shutdown will be remembered for teaching many lessons, but most will be what it teaches us about ourselves. Often, it isn’t so much that the world has changed. After all, the heart of selling is still the need to relate to clients and form mutually beneficial and productive relationships. But how we confront change provides opportunity for growth, both personally and professionally. Of all the lessons from the economic shutdown, the most important is for sales reps to develop the traits needed to adapt and provide innovative solutions to best serve their clients’ changing needs during these difficult times.