From the desk of Wendy Placko:
As the head of the Business Development team at Neuger Communications Group, one of the first thoughts that ran through my head as I learned of the mounting coronavirus crisis was, “What is this going to do to our annual sales goal?” We have had great success in our sales efforts by developing relationships that begin at networking events and gatherings – things that won’t be happening in the foreseeable future. It is clear that we, and many organizations, need to pivot our efforts. Here are a few things to consider while adapting during these uncertain times.
Leveraging your CRM
If you don’t have a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, you need one now more than ever. And if you have one and haven’t been actively using it, now is the time. A CRM allows you to create a profile for all of your loose leads and solid contacts and track the activities you have had with one another – all in one place. This will help make sure that any existing leads you had before COVID-19 don’t get left behind.
The best tools offer:
- Pipelines for tracking where a prospect is in terms of your developing relationship or proposal.
- Integrations with calendars, email applications, browser call extensions and SMS so that you don’t have to manually enter your interactions.
- The ability to assign tasks and due dates with reminders to keep you and your team accountable.
Adopting a CRM tool is a lot of work but is well worth your investment. Plus, if you have a bit of down time right now, this would be a great place to focus your time.
Conducting video calls
Face-to-face communication just isn’t an option right now. You can keep your relationships intact by emailing and picking up the phone, but another great option to develop and maintain connections is to host video chats or webinars. If you aren’t familiar with Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom or GoToMeeting, find out which app your company prefers working with (they may already have an account) and learn the tool. No matter the application, here are some universal tips for a video call:
- Practice the technology with a colleague (how to mute, pin a person to the screen, chat, etc.), and plan on the first five minutes of a meeting potentially being devoted to troubleshooting technical issues.
- Use mute when you are not talking, especially when there are environmental noises at home.
- Look your best – many employees are working from home right now, but dress the way you would for a client meeting. Yes, that means pants.
- Watch mannerisms like you would in an in-person meeting for visual cues. If you are presenting a deck, consider a dual monitor setup so you can still see the people attending. If you don’t have access to a second monitor, a TV with HDMI connectivity can work in a pinch.
Remember to keep things light-hearted if you run into trouble with the video call technology. Everyone is figuring out how to best use these tools, and we can all laugh together as we learn.
Re-evaluating your productivity
Since we are all changing how we work right now, it’s a great time to look at our habits and change them for the better. I’m currently reading Jill Konrath’s book, “More Sales, Less Time,” and the first section posits that one of the top reasons sales professionals feel so burnt out (even before pandemic times) is due to the world of distractions we are living in. Every time you are distracted, it takes you five times the length of the interruption to regain focus. That means if you stop to check email for 30 seconds, it will take you two and a half minutes to get back into the flow of what you were doing before. Here are a few tips to regain your focus:
- Make plans to check emails at certain times of the day, if you can.
- Try an app like Freedom to block the websites that distract you. (I know I stop to check the CDC website every few hours, and it doesn’t really make me feel better or more informed right now.)
- Track your time for a week and see how long you focus on a given task. If you are spending 15 minutes at a time on given tasks, you probably aren’t focusing your best. Our company uses Paymo for time tracking, but you could also experiment with a spreadsheet.
- Consider turning off notifications if they are more distracting than helpful.
If you can reduce the number of distractions you are dealing with, you can take back lots of time in your work day to focus on developing and maintaining your relationships.
Make the best of the situation
They say that your reaction to a situation has the power to change the situation. We can’t control what’s going on around us now, but we can stay positive and take the opportunity to better utilize technology and become more effective sellers.