The Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted operations for almost all sales organizations all over the globe. Recently updated research by McKinsey & Company states the timing of an anticipated recovery and return to normal economic levels is still uncertain, and will vary significantly according to geography and industry. In summary, COVID-19 will continue to cause havoc to commerce and make the lives of people who sell for a living difficult for an as yet undetermined time.
Even in times of normalcy, coaching has been an important part of sales team performance. Research by the Sales Executive Council shows that sales teams who do not receive coaching underperform peer organizations in their industry by at least 10 percent. In contrast, sales teams who receive more than three hours of coaching per month exceed their goals, on average, by seven percent.
With the heightened level of uncertainty, due to the pandemic, the need for effective sales coaching is even more important, for both obvious and nuanced reasons, including:
- Coronavirus has temporarily changed the definitions of sales success. Generally, most buyers react to uncertainty by freezing purchase evaluations and focusing on preserving their liquidity. As a result, most B2B sales pipelines have been severely disrupted. An honest re-evaluation of opportunities in sales pipelines is now required, in order to confront the facts of each seller’s book of potential business. Success during the uncertainty of the pandemic means helping buyers overcome their perceptions of risk, mitigating their fears, enabling them to “unfreeze” and make forward progress in their evaluations, if not a buying decision. Coaching to help sellers accurately assess the state of their sales pipelines is the first step towards helping them to make practical and realistic improvement in results.
- Buyer motivations have changed in almost every sales opportunity. The business issues or potential missed opportunities – their “pains” – that caused buyers to initiate a purchase evaluation have been affected by the impact of COVID-19. Therefore, the motivating factors propelling sales opportunities towards a purchase decision have changed or dissipated. Coaching to help sellers to re-evaluate buyers’ pains in each opportunity is now required, so that sellers can establish appropriate strategies to adapt to changes in buyers’ priorities – or alternatively, to qualify out of opportunities that are no longer valid.
- Showing empathy and care for customers is even more critical. The pandemic is actually an opportunity to forge a higher level of relationship with current accounts. Reaching out to customers and buyers to simply acknowledge the challenges of coping with COVID-19, and providing some useful resources to do so, goes a long way to building bonds with buyers during a difficult time. Coaching to assist sellers in developing and extending these kinds of outreach to customers and buyers will help sellers to be in an excellent position to close business, once the eventual recovery ensues.
In this time of crisis, effective sales coaching is more important than ever. For more information about how to build a culture of successful sales coaching, download this white paper.