1. Create a Disaster Recovery Plan
Before you can start selling in earnest and get your company back on track, you need to spend time developing your recovery plan.
According to Gartner, there are three phases of building disaster recovery plans for businesses that you need to become familiar with.
- Respond: In the face of a crisis like COVID, the first thing any company has to do is make sure its people are safe and that its essential business functions are secure. To put it simply, as Gartner does, this “relatively short period is marked by high effort and potentially chaotic activity.”
- Recover: After launching an initial response, a company can begin to organize efforts to stabilize its primary (and some of its secondary) business efforts. This means identifying areas that need improvement, reassessing goals, rehiring employees as needed, and revisiting the budget to ensure the brand can stay afloat.
- Renew: Once the disaster has passed, it’s time to start implementing extended strategies that will carry your brand into a new and uncertain future. This means learning from the lessons the crisis taught and buckling down on any changes that have to be made to become more resilient.
“The pandemic has been an eye-opener for businesses,” Entrepreneur says. “Weaknesses are left exposed within an organization. If you’ve felt your business wasn’t ready for this, you know some areas can be improved.”
If you’re coming out of COVID feeling a little worse for wear, you’re not alone. Maybe you feel like Sisyphus, doomed to forever push a boulder up a hill you can never reach the summit of. You wouldn’t be alone in feeling that, either, but don’t let it get you down. You’re in the Recover stage right now, which means dusting yourself off, doing the work, and getting your brand back out there one step at a time.
2. Develop Smart Sales Goals
When COVID hit, most of the plans and strategies you had for 2020 probably went out the window. Whether it was suddenly managing an exclusively remote workforce or just the unpredictable spending habits of people living in some degree of self-quarantine, the market has changed and companies everywhere are racing to adapt.
“In times like these,” HubSpot says, “knowing how to build strong relationships remotely is key. Invest in videoconferencing software to have "face-to-face" conversations online, and build trust by starting conversations with educational content instead of a generic pitch.”
Even though the market is different, and will continue to be different for some time, your salespeople can and should nurture and support their leads however they can. Sales may be down overall, right now, but progress is coming (like HubSpot illustrates in the graph below), and you’re going to want to make sure your team is equipped with the smart sales goals and techniques necessary to hit the ground running.
One of the most important things you can do for your brand when developing your new goals is to ask yourself what you could’ve done better. Like Gartner says, “This crisis has created an opportunity to reset some of your goals and ambitions; it’s time to ask: ‘As we recover from this crisis, do we want to be different — and if so, how?’” Don’t miss out on this opportunity!
Focus on developing short, medium, and long term goals (and tie KPIs to each of them) that will help you gauge how well your sales team is adapting to this temporary “new normal.” The metrics you’re used to may no longer be applicable in a post-COVID world, so you need to be agile and adapt to new information and sales trends as they come in.
3. Equip Your Sales Team with the Right Tools
Your sales team needs the right tools to do their job well. This was true before the COVID crisis, and it’s especially true during and after the crisis. Consumer behavior has changed, and your selling strategies have to change along with them. This means reassessing whether the tools you’re using are still working in this new environment and, if not, what new tools can replace them.
Here are a few of the sales tools we recommend you focus on:
- Live Chat & Chatbots: When used by a sales team, these tools can help your brand engage leads when they’re hottest, record any info (and automatically add it to your CRM), and assign follow-up tasks (i.e., email sequences, calls, meetings, live demos) to make sure your team continues to nurture them toward a sale.
- Email Campaigns: Even in the face of a crisis, it’s important that you keep your brand relevant in the eyes of your target audience. This means launching email campaigns that keep your contacts updated on how you’re responding to the crisis, what your disaster recovery plan looks like, and how you can continue to help them solve their problems.
- Virtual Sales Tools: The right technology can be the difference between a workforce that is able to work remotely and a workforce that’s optimized for remote work. If you want your sales team to continue closing sales, look into expanding or upgrading the virtual sales tools (video calls, social media automation, etc.) they use.
- Automation Software: Audience engagement is one of the best indicators of whether or not a lead is ready to close on a sale. So, make sure your sales team has automated tools that can monitor brand mentions and conversations, as it’s that data that will help remote sales reps pinpoint when, where, and how they can swing in with the solution a prospect is looking for.
- Sales Content: Building out your sales collateral should be one of the first things you do in your disaster recovery for business efforts. If sales are down at the moment, then have your sales reps work with marketing to churn out some sales content that can be put to good use as soon as SQLs start coming in again.
4. Be a Helper
Getting back into the swing of things after a crisis like COVID is easier said than done. Now more than ever, your sales team should be approaching leads as helpers, not salespeople. This means really focusing on your audience’s pain points and positioning yourself as a way to help solve those problems.
“When looking at your competitors and the industry as a whole, pay attention to the trends and focus on finding the opportunities,” Forbes says. “Being able to find a gap or need that your business can fulfill that’s been neglected up until now could be critical to reclaiming and expanding your customer base going forward.”
If you’re watching and listening to the sales trends in your industry (which any good strategy for disaster recovery will require) and have noticed a need that isn’t being met yet, look into ways your brand can pivot to meet that need. It’s even possible that your goal during this time isn’t making revenue, but rather, building relationships with ideal customers that will last long after this crisis has ended.
People will remember how your brand reacted during and after the COVID pandemic, so make sure your sales efforts are thoughtful, compassionate, and, above all else, helpful. Those are the traits that will set you apart and facilitate the creation and nurturing of long-lasting customers.
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