A long-time client who’s on his fourth company since we started working with him called me last week. He’s a VP who joined his current firm during the pandemic, so he’s never actually met the sales force that reports to him.
Are you a leader whose sales organization needs to adjust to post-pandemic market conditions or changing company priorities? Continue reading for our top three recommendations on getting started.
“I’m having my first sales meeting next week.” He meant his first in-person sales meeting. “I’m setting my expectations for the disciplined use of one, common sales process with one set of tools. I’m having trouble getting my message across, and I need some assistance.”
This seems incredibly basic, even mundane, until we consider this sales leader’s circumstances:
- He joined his company at the height of the pandemic and has never physically met his sales team.
- He works in consumer products, an industry plagued by pandemic-induced supply chain issues that are a constant strain on sellers dealing with the customer fallout.
- The virtual selling environment limited access to retail buyers and to vital information about conditions at the store level.
- Process uniformity and discipline had culturally never been considered a prerequisite for seller success at this company, but the pandemic changed that.
- His mid-sized company grew rapidly over the past few years, but now has changing competitive conditions and increasing customer demands.
What this Sales VP is really doing in his first in-person sales meeting is what we call a post-pandemic sales reset.
Regardless of company size, industry, competition or customer demand, your sales team endured stress during the pandemic:
- Outside sellers became inside sellers
- Sales teams were laid off, reorganized, furloughed or handed different customer segments and territories to manage changing demand
- Traditional sales events were cancelled or became virtual
- Customer relationships altered as companies downsized or reorganized
- Reduced company budgets may have reduced sales operations support
When the pandemic hit, you triaged these issues, often under chaotic conditions, to keep the sales function running.
Alignment problems inevitably arose. Go-to-market strategy didn’t change fast enough with pivoting company objectives. Variable compensation structures didn’t keep pace with sellers reassigned to new roles. Customer relationships were interrupted and had to be re-established. All of these things created drag on seller success.
Now that customers are recovering, demand is increasing in many industries, and in-person meetings are becoming possible, we recommend you reassess and reset your sales organization to take advantage of opportunities created by new market conditions.
The great news is that the process can be planned and orderly this time.
Since recovery conditions for many companies remain fluid, we recommend starting your post-pandemic reset by first assessing sales strategy and structure, specifically in these three areas:
- How does your current go-to-market strategy need to shift to keep pace three, six and nine months from now given changing company priorities?
Use our Sales Organization Alignment Checklist Tool (see the 2x2 grid located near the bottom of the blog post). It can help you understand whether your current sales strategy and structure are aligned with changing company priorities. Remember, alignment issues cause drag on seller success, so we need to eliminate them.
- If you downsized or reassigned sellers to different customer segments, how do roles and responsibilities need to change and what new sales resources do you need to execute your updated go-to-market strategy?
Is Now the Right Time to Restructure Your Sales Team? is a quick-start version of our more comprehensive “Guide to Sales Resource Optimization” (see item 3). Use it as a way to start thinking about sales resource needs three, six and nine months from now.
- Because clients and markets with the highest potential are now shifting relative to those at the height of the pandemic, determine how your account and territory coverage needs must shift to keep pace. Do you have the right skills in the right seats assigned to the right clients to capture this potential? Think critically about this if you have clients in hard-hit industries like hospitality, transportation, entertainment, mining and upstream oil & gas.
Our comprehensive Guide to Sales Resource Optimization can help you select the right type and number of sales resources, as well as structure them correctly, to support your post-pandemic sales strategy.
Finally, we emphatically advise bringing sales operations into your post-pandemic reset to help identify necessary changes and to ease their implementation. Great sales ops teams can do everything from designing a new go-to-market strategy to onboarding new hires. Bring them into the process early to add valuable horsepower to your sales reset success.
To better understand how sales operations can assist in your post-pandemic reset, or to see how world-class Sales Ops organizations operate, download our newest eBook: How Sales Operations Leaders Can Drive Impact in 90 Days.