Just when we thought offices were opening up and business as usual was finally back, the Delta variant showed up. Its message is, “Not so fast. I’m here to throw yet another curve ball to all of you running companies and sales organizations.”
It’s like a houseguest that refuses to leave.
The reality is life and business will go on. The sales teams that will succeed in this ever-changing business environment are the sales organizations that continue to develop their team’s emotional intelligence skills AND consultative selling skills. They practice a great quote from Maya Angelou: “When you know better, you do better.”
Here are three skills that will help your team achieve success, regardless of constant changes to the external environment.
#1. Improve your Sales IQ, your prospecting and consultative selling skills. Stop your sales team members from embracing a “kind of” sales approach. Those that are waiting out the viruses are kind of good at selling through video calls. They are kind of good at demonstrating their products and services virtually. They are kind of good at new approaches to prospecting.
Kind of good is NOT going to beat really good.
Salespeople demonstrating kind of good selling behaviors are clinging onto false hope that virtual prospecting and virtual selling are temporary situations. They are hoping:
- Their sales life as they knew it in 2019 will come back.
- They hang onto hope that face-to-face selling will replace any use of video sales calls.
- They hang onto hope that trade shows, conferences and after-hours networking events will be back in full force. As a result, they don’t bother learning new ways of connecting with prospects and referral partners.
They are floating down the river named Hope and Denial.
Sales leaders, teach your sales team to accept their new reality. Teach and practice new approaches to prospecting and selling. Find a new river to float on named Change and Adapt.
#2: Improve your team’s empathy and self-awareness skills. Prospects and customers are human beings and all of us are fed up with the pandemic. Raise your sales team’s awareness that they may be conducting more sales meetings with distracted, frustrated and hesitant prospects and customers. These people thought life was getting back to normal.
Instead, many struggle with the numerous internal issues caused by the virus. Do employees need to be vaccinated? Is a hybrid work environment the right approach for their industry? How do we retain top talent when there is a war for it? How can I show empathy to my team and at the same hold them accountable to goals that must be met?
Prospects might be hesitant to change or buy. They are afraid to make a decision because of the new information bombarding them every day that affects their decision making. Fear of being wrong is overriding the urgency of taking action.
Prospects will ask more challenging questions because they are trying to find certainty in an uncertain world.
Teach and reinforce emotion-management skills to your sales team. Raise their self-awareness about selling situations where they can get triggered emotionally by a hesitant or challenging prospect.
Teach and reinforce empathy skills. Work with your team on how to demonstrate empathy in order to make an emotional connection with prospects and customers. “I can certainly understand your hesitancy in making a decision because of all the changes that seem to happening on a daily basis. If I were you, making no decision might seem like a tempting way to go. Would it make sense for us to walk through the pros and cons of taking action or no action?”
When salespeople demonstrate empathy, they change the sales conversation to one where it is one human being talking to another, not a salesperson is trying to achieve Q4 sales goals.
#3. Teach and apply the EQ skill of reality testing. It’s time to stop hoping for things to be as you wish and face up to what really is to be. Get off that raft floating down the river named Hope and Denial.
Sales professionals can’t wait out COVID or the Delta variant.
What do I mean by that statement? There are still sales professionals that are waiting out the viruses. Many are not even conscious of their wait-it-out-behavior.
For example, the wait-it-out salesperson is waiting to create a professional work space because they were waiting to return to the office. Now offices may not open as planned.
Encourage your team to stop waiting and start looking like the serious professionals they are. Why would a prospect make a serious buying decision with you or your company when they are looking at the salesperson’s bedroom, kitchen cabinets or anything else that screams, “This is not an office.”?
Help your salespeople figure out how to give their home work space a professional background. I’m not crazy about most green screen tools. There is something about losing half your head when holding a sales conversation that erodes credibility. Just saying. Purchase a simple room divider that can be easily put up and taken down.
Conduct your own overview of today’s selling behaviors. Push your sales team to see the real truth as to why they are not adjusting to today’s realities. Also, improve their prospecting and consultative selling abilities, teach them to show more empathy to prospects and customers, and make sure they understand that the old way of doing things is unlikely to return.
As more of your sales team members follow these steps, they’ll still need an occasional guiding hand so that they don’t lose their way professionally.
Be that guiding hand.