The coronavirus lockdown has changed everything about sales. We will feel its effects for years to come. From the way salespeople travel to work, to the way we build and develop relationships, to the way buyers buy, the new normal will be different. Adapting our approach to sales in this new world requires solid leadership across three areas. I call them IQ, EQ and TQ. Let me explain.
Intelligence. We need to raise intelligence levels from top to bottom in sales organisations.
For the foreseeable future, we have eliminated the commute to work, which means we’ve gained between 10 and 20 per cent more time to focus on other things. I would like to see the workday redesigned to focus those extra hours towards personal and professional development.
Leaders should invest in learning and development programmes for their people, focused on continuous development. They should connect their staff with mentors and coaches inside and outside the company. They should also spend more time coaching and providing feedback.
The lockdown has removed borders between buyers and sellers. There are no more meetings, lunches or events where salespeople and clients can get together and solidify relationships. Sales leaders need to work smarter to take advantage of this development. It could include reorganising the working day to account for time differences.
It could even involve appointing an outside sales house. External sales teams reduce the risk of a company making a bad hire, while providing results and accountability.
Sure, emotional intelligence is an entrepreneurial buzzword. But for me, it’s real life. I believe that in the new world of sales, leaders owe it to their people to show emotional intelligence in everything they do.
Put yourself in the average salesperson’s shoes. They’re stuck in their home, possibly on their own. The support they used to receive from their managers and colleagues has disappeared. The buzz of the office is a distant memory. They’re trying to achieve, make calls, hit targets, just like they used to. How do you think they are feeling?
Mental health issues were already a ticking time bomb in the sales profession. This crisis has only exacerbated it. Leaders need to take action now. It’s the right thing to do on a human level, but there are also business reasons; salespeople can’t sell when they’re suffering.
Leaders need to have an open and honest conversation with all their people, right now. Talk to them about their home set-up. Find out about their lifestyle and wellbeing. How often do they leave their homes? Are there other people there to interact with? What other pressures are they dealing with?
It’s not being Big Brother. It’s showing EQ. In the future, EQ will be everything.
There is a new world of technology out there designed to help sales teams with every task, at every stage of their sales process. The job of a leader is to understand what tech can do and empower their teams to perform by purchasing the best solutions.
Leaders need to get educated. They need to investigate. Design your tech stack, making sure each part is bolstered by the best on the market.
Failure to build an effective tech stack puts you at a competitive disadvantage. As the sales world changes, the importance of technology will only grow.
We don’t know what is around the corner. Can the economy bounce back from this enforced shutdown or will there be a dramatic recession? In this time of uncertainty, leadership is essential, which requires IQ, EQ and TQ. The growth of your business depends on it.