Earlier this year, I detailed some key takeaways from a year of COVID-19 selling conditions. Around this time I was also invited to speak at a Top Sales World Roundtable hosted by Jonathan Farrington. Joined by fellow sales thought leaders and feet-on-the-ground CEOs Dave Mattson, Bob Apollo and Kevin Eikenberry, we had a fascinating discussion that focused on the major challenges sales leadership has faced this last year — and the outlook for challenges and opportunities ahead.
Read on for some key points from the conversation — and use the link below for free access to the full discussion.
Everyone in the selling world was in agreement early 2020 — the pandemic was disruptive. Offices closed. Sales cycles halted. Deals fell through. B2B selling organization leadership was faced with the pressure and need to rapidly adjust and change, both for their employees’ benefits and for their buying audiences’ needs.
Out of that great pressure came valuable shifts in overcoming status quo:
- Virtual selling has proven to have a place in sophisticated selling cycles to everyone’s benefit.
- Organizations of all sizes and shapes (including gigantic ones which have historically been excused change due to their size) have proven to be highly adaptable and flexible by pivoting quickly, empowering them for speed bumps and curves the future road brings.
- Those that did not pivot fast enough could pinpoint their organizational weaknesses.
- Sales organizations that had not already realized this benefit had to focus on buyer outcomes to survive.
- Leadership realized fulfilling wins by investing focus in their internal teams and long-term buyer relationships.
According to Sandler Research, 84% of customers want a long-term relationship with sellers.
Most of the experts agreed: The virtual selling relationship will likely take a hybrid approach. At Mereo, we believe the virtual preferences will differ not between buyer but based on the cost and risk of the sale. With big purchases, people will still want to look you in the eye and shake your hand (or give you the COVID elbow). That said, for a lengthy sales cycle that traditionally was marked by a half dozen or more in-person meetings, it is likely in-person meetings will be fewer and focused on key junctures in the journey versus every interaction.
For many sales organizations internally, though, the workday has changed drastically with teams locally distant but virtually connected. Mereo has supported clients make the transition from our own experience of a geographically distanced workforce. And that office dynamic shift might not change back once offices can open back up again. But it might not all be gold: According to Prodoscore, between January 2020 and January 2021, professionals were working 80 minutes more per day and were in 2 hours per day in meetings now versus three days in meetings.
Executive Insight Takeaways
Optimism is the resounding tone between these CEOs and thought leaders. A revenue rebound, if not already apparent, may be in the future for many companies that had been flexible and persistent.
Going forward, these experts offered these lasting takeaways:
- From Kevin: Work-from-home may have been mandatory a year ago but it is voluntary now.
- From David: Lean into the two Ps of process and partnerships.
- From Bob: Reorganize your company focus around delivering customer outcomes.
- From Jay: Seek to Serve™ not only your buyers but also your employees and families.
To access the full Roundtable podcast episode, please visit the Top Sales World Sales Futurists.