More Silver Linings: How COVID-19 Helps Build Better Salespeople – Attitude Is Everything!
Did I mention that I haven’t traveled in 9 weeks and how weird that has been for me?! I went downstairs today to check on our supply of paper products (ugh!) and saw my trusty suitcase. My “frenemy”. I fondly said hello, seeing it sitting there alone in the dark and gave it a little pat for old time sake. That suitcase is a reminder of the life I was used to before COVID-19.
I know I’m not alone in feeling a little trapped. Being “grounded” is such a strange and unwelcome feeling for salespeople. We are PEOPLE people! We love meeting prospects and customers, and for those of us in the security sector, hours spent Zooming just can’t replace the value of in-person, on-site visits. Many of our projects require exploration of project sites, plans, specifications and a collaborative “team” approach to arrive at the final mix of products and services that best meet customer goals, objectives and budgets. Trying to accomplish that virtually is incredibly frustrating. But frustration is not a productive emotion for any of us, so I’ve spent some time considering how we – as salespeople – can maintain a positive attitude despite the novel physical sales challenges we are facing courtesy of this novel virus.
I like to think of sales education in a continuum and as a way of building and flexing different muscles to achieve specific goals. Our changing sales paradigm requires new exercises to build up that muscle memory. The recommendations I’ve compiled fit into two categories. The first are foundational “healthy habits” that establish a routine, elevate your mood and prime you for productive selling. The second group relates to actual sales practices; techniques you can directly apply within our new socially distanced, remote-selling reality. When combined, these tips can help you to stay feeling positive and keep you solidly entrenched in the sales game, both mentally and physically.
Set the Tone with Healthy Habits
- It’s all about you! We’ve heard this mantra before, applied to stressful, changing times in life. Amidst the stresses of caring for a newborn, new parents are reminded to carve out time for themselves – including “date nights.” Students starting college are reminded to make time for exercise and clubs to balance the pressure of academic demands. The changes we are experiencing in our routines due to COVID-19 are every bit as dramatic and challenging. As we mentally and physically adjust to shifting schedules, a blurring between work and home, economic uncertainty at a personal and societal level, and no road map as to what our industry will look like moving forward, it takes concerted efforts not to become mired in negativity. Remember – there will always be a need for security products and services. We just need to figure out new ways to sell and support them. Just like other transitions and life changes to which we’ve adapted, we will get through this!
What activities can you engage in that put you in a positive frame of mind? For me, one thing that really helps me to stay positive is exercise. It’s like a vitamin for my head! A short, intense workout gets my blood pumping, clears my head and allows time just for me. Other activities that can help clear your head are nature walks, bike rides, playing a musical instrument, indulging in a hobby or craft, or even setting aside time to leisurely read a magazine or inspirational book.
Block these activities into your calendar. I block “exercise!” as an appointment on my calendar and you know what? It’s not only something I look forward to, it’s an appointment I keep as a result. It also helps to give structure to my days, forcing me to be more productive during the hours that I’ve allocated to “work.” When our days are completely unstructured, it’s far too easy to lose focus and waste away hours without even realizing it.
Hot Sales Fitness Tip: Behavior and attitude changes happen through conscious intention and repetitive action. List three things you will do daily to maintain a great sales attitude. Stick that up on your monitor as a visible daily reminder!
- Get moving! Sitting all day at a home office is exhausting. Compared to our old lives, we don’t get to move around nearly as much and this is taking a toll on our bodies and minds. That’s why I’ve made hourly movement one of my small daily challenges. It’s quite simple. I must get up and take roughly 250 steps anywhere at least once an hour.
Why is this important? Believe it or not, that simple “task” stimulates your brain. Just as taking a deep breath before reacting is proven to provide enough time to allow your built-in “fight or flight” behaviors to calm down, getting up and moving is a great way to re-set and realign. You come back refreshed and in a better mental state to answer questions like: Who should I call next? Which leads do I need to update? What can I add to the scope of work I was writing? How best do I help customer X with their budget challenges?
Hot Sales Fitness Tip: Creating headspace for your sales strategies throughout the day will return great short and long-term dividends and help you to get stuff done!
- Give (value) and you shall receive tenfold. So many people I know have amazing talents, thoughts, experience and value they add freely to my life. Someone you know may share something with you that you recognize could be of great help to a customer or prospect. Don’t wait! Share away! Helping others impacts our healthy attitude directly. It feels good to know that you have helped, especially with no expectation of anything in return. Do it because you want to. Here’s a recent example in my life. Endeavor Business Media put together a fabulous presentation “Marketing In Challenging Times” (link below). Janice Welch, my friend and superstar Sales Executive from SouthComm Business Media pinged me and shared it with me knowing I would find it helpful. That not only made me feel specially cared for, it deepened my appreciation of Janice.
Hot Sales Fitness Tip: Create your arsenal of insightful articles, tips, and tools to share readily with your prospects and customers. Review contacts in your sales management software and send a quick note, thinking of them with an attachment or link to helpful information pertinent to their specific needs. Now smile. Good job!
- Jot it down! (In your Sales Software) Everyone works differently. I’ve always been a big note-taker, knowing that relying on my memory didn’t always work. I’m amazed by people who don’t jot things down. How do they keep everything in their heads? In recent years, my note-taking has moved from paper to digital. I’ve developed this habit and now find it indispensable. I update my sales leads, opportunities and accounts in my WeSuite WeOpportunity sales software. Making the transition from paper “note-taker” to digital note-taker, was easier than you think. Like subscribing to an exercise schedule, or committing to healthy eating, these new behaviors for a “new me” required focus on change. I learned quickly that having my notes, reminders and strategic thoughts in one place, for everything I am working on not only helps me, it helps my team and our prospects and customers. After all, more than 70% of CRM users report that their CRM provides them better access to customer data.
Hot Sales Fitness Tip: Tie behavioral change to technology. Committing to changes that save you time, keep your efforts focused, and help you to remain on track is easy when completed in sales management software that centrally stores, manages and returns the data to you. You see your progress in real-time any time!
- Winning at prospecting. Nearly 50% of companies indicate that improving their sales funnel is a top priority. Just over 40% of salespeople feel prospecting is one of the most difficult aspects of their jobs. For most this is due to a lack of a documented prospecting plan. Not knowing what to do, when to do it, and setting goals for expected results, makes prospecting much more daunting and leads to procrastination. Managing prospecting plans and actions within sales management software allows you to see what’s working and do more of it! Here’s a tip to help you nail actionable prospecting. As crazy as this sounds, it really works.
Hot Sales Fitness Tip: When I am challenged by days where things are just not going right, I stop and force myself to perform a sales prospecting activity. In that moment, I coach myself into doing something different. It may sound counter-intuitive but, just taking one single action that points me back in the right direction pays off! I happily enter this into my Prospecting Activity Plan.
Try it. What’s the worst that can happen? You leave a few messages, or you get a hit and can laugh about your “everything was going wrong” before this went right call with a new prospect, or customer.
Applying Improved Sales Behaviors
The Mission. Turning back to the mission at heart, improving as security integration salespeople to provide the best products services and value possible to our customers. Now is a great time to invest in improving your sales skills. Many of us are still “locked down”. Instead of commuting, we can use that time to think through our sales templates, identifying areas that need improvement, and putting new behaviors, strategies and skills into action.
For instance, if you examine your sales cycle and the various sales activities you perform to move opportunities “from contact to contract”, as we say at WeSuite, identify where hang-ups are occurring. Are you getting stuck in specific sales phases? Are certain markets or customer types producing better results than others? Which are quickest to go from lead to “win” and why? What discussions with prospects and customers have you had that may help others?
The answers to these and many other questions are so easily found in data. When using data driven systems as a part of your sales process, specific insight is easily gained that can help you improve the focus and completion of your security sales mission.
Another consideration is a review of your customer base and target markets. Identify those that are actively purchasing security systems, products and services due to our changing world. It is also a good idea to reach out to those who may be struggling to see if there are ways you can help. Remember to record all interactions in your sales software.
For those focused on hardest hit markets, you need to quickly re-position, re-tool and re-focus. Identify products and services that can be offered to other market segments and start outreach. Perhaps there are other security integrators facing work from major accounts who need your help. Think about who is in need, their greatest concerns, and how you can provide on-site and remote security solutions. Whatever your situation, it is time to think and respond differently.
Remember Your Focus: At WeSuite, we have conducted numerous webinar meetings over the last 8+ weeks with one primary focus: to help security systems sales teams better utilize our sales software and in-turn their security sales mission.
One of the primary messages we coach on is using the software as your “virtual sales assistant”. In doing so, you can make serious gains in three specific areas found to be the most challenging in the sales world today:
- Gaining Selling Time
- Improving the Customer Experience
- Differentiating Yourself
Final Hot Sales Fitness Tip: Use your sales software as your “Virtual Sales Assistant”. Review your sales data regularly and use it. Create 3-5 sales reports to review and use weekly. The cadence of data review is critical. More importantly however, is using the information. Data tells the story factually. Identify specific information you need in order to know that you are: on goal, over or under for each major sales stage.
Silver Linings: Maintaining a forward looking and thinking attitude helps you to stay strong. Focusing on behaviors and techniques and tracking success makes you stronger. As you improve, you will have clarity based on real-time sales data that is truly meaningful to you. The actions you need to take present themselves. You will expect certain results and be able to validate them, taking next steps with confidence. Most importantly, you will become better at security system sales for you, your team and your customers.
We are all looking to learn, be inspired and improve. Please share your thoughts and “Hot Sales Fitness Tips”!
Click here: Endeavor Media’s “Marketing In Challenging Times”