We’re in uncharted territory dealing with the personal, social, and business ramifications of COVID-19. Earlier I wrote about how companies can change their sales compensation plans as we neared the end of Q1. Regardless of how your organization handled Q1, you are now  faced with a sales team that may be struggling with occupying  their time. They are probably not making cold calls. They don’t have any in-person sales meetings. And there are no tradeshows to attend.

How do you keep them busy and engaged, while also making sure you’re moving the business forward for Q2 and H2 sales? Here are some recommendations:

  1. Invest in Sales Operations Infrastructure – Business is like riding a bicycle – if you are not moving forward, you’ll eventually fall down. With our normal business day operating at the speed of light, we don’t usually have time to fix anything thing that is not broken, howsoever inefficient it may be. Use this slowdown to review and overhaul business processes. Scan your entire process from lead generation to invoice submission. Identify manual steps that can be automated. Everyone has some sort of Excel hell full of manual tasks. Maybe some of these can be automated by writing a simple Excel macro. If nothing, at least get a BSA (business systems analyst) to interview all stakeholders and document the entire process.
  2. Sales Training – Put your sales staff through extensive training on your products so that they are capable of handling product demos on their own and don’t need a Sales Engineer (SE) to accompany them. If a salesperson can demo the product and handle not just commercial, but also techno-functional questions, imagine how effective your sales organization can be. Your cost of sales could go down by almost half. You can also cross-train some your ISRs (Inside Sales Reps) and SEs to do Sales so that you have a more nimble and scalable sales organization.
  3. Clean up your CRM database – When was the last time someone found time to remove obsolete contacts from your CRM system? Now is the time to clean it and enhance it. Make it more efficient for when sales ramp back up.
  4. Stock up on Leads – It’s time to do market research or buy contact lists to stock up on your contacts database.
  5. Do more for existing customers – If new sales have come to a grinding halt and you have spare delivery capacity on hand, reach out to your existing customers. Offer them additional products and services that they have never bought. With spare capacity on hand you should explore giving deep discounts. Your customer, already dealing with the crisis would appreciate and remember your positive gesture.

Have you come up with other strategies to keep your sales team engaged and encouraged? We’d love to hear about them!