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Return to Sales

Sales management

return to sales

Kevin HigginsJune 20, 2022Blog

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Managing Selling Through Many Mediums

A lot of attention has been given to “Return to Work” – a critical topic and one that will determine the future of work and greatly influence our work-life relationship.

Let’s focus on the critical topic of “Return to Sales”. The name might be misleading as throughout the recent pandemic we all continued to sell….. although often in very different ways, just as we worked in different ways and places. In many cases, sellers began to connect with customers in a new(ish) medium – video calls. We used to have calls or in-person. Now it is call, video call, or in-person.

Three key topics:

In this article we will explore:

  • Taking the Wins: What changed during the pandemic that you can systematize.
  • Implementing A Hybrid Sales Strategy: In-person meetings are great and virtual meetings are great – what is your strategy
  • Acting Now! (Now or Never): This is your opportunity to change… or your team will return to the “old normal”.

Take the Wins

Let’s start with an example.

Three months into the pandemic and the CSO (Chief Sales Officer) at an asset management firm notices the following:

  • Assets under management (AUM) are up 8%
  • Travel and Entertainment are $0 for the previous 90 days (vs. a budget of $325,000)
  • Printing costs are $0 vs. a budget of $40,000

Wow – outstanding! So, what does he do?

He studies the trends and immediately moves to consolidate the win. Wholesalers (salespeople) used to have to do 20 in-person advisor (customer) meetings per week. He doubles it to 40 video-based advisor meetings per week. For the in-person meetings, wholesalers often brought printed fund comparisons or fund sell sheets in a brochure folder – thus, the printing costs. Where this information is needed, it is now sent digitally.

As the pandemic draws to a close, for ‘Return to Sales’, what does the CSO do? He keeps a lot of the change:

  • Wholesalers are expected to have 20 video meetings and 10 in-person meetings per week (or to propose the ratio that works in their territory).
  • No printed materials – better for the environment and the budget.
  • T&E at 50% of previous levels

AUM continues to grow and his bottom line is healthier.

What are your wins from the pandemic? Were you able to convert in-person to video or phone? What of this conversion was healthy and where did it have a negative impact. The math is straightforward – an in-person meeting takes 2 to 4 times the productivity time of a video once travel, traffic, and logistics are considered.

Hybrid Sales Strategy

Ultimately our customers will determine how they are served. They will inform how and where the meetings will take place. That being said, your salespeople will greatly influence this choice. How many times have you heard salespeople say:

“I really look forward to going back to seeing my customers in person and having the chance to take them for lunch……”

Sales leaders must set the hybrid strategy in collaboration with their teams and their customers. The parameters are:

  • What medium works best? (phone, video, in-person)
  • What level of investment of time/expense is justified? (travel time, travel expense, meeting expense)
  • How do we gain efficiency and effectiveness (video days vs. in-person days)
  • Buy-in to the standards (some salespeople want “return to the old normal….”)

These are decisions. If we do not make them, we may just return to the “old normal”

Act Now

The end of the pandemic is a once-in sales organization’s lifetime moment. What are the wins you can consolidate:

  • Utilize virtual meetings and increase ‘meetings’ per week
  • Reduce or re-distribute expenses (travel, entertainment, printing, etc.)
  • See important customers more frequently and in-person

Return to Sales is about an opportunity to change our coverage model. In-person sales meetings are great and virtual (video) sales meetings are great – one is much more expensive.

The call to action is to create a Return to Sales taskforce (sales leaders and salespeople) and determine your coverage strategy. Survey customers for what they liked about coverage during the pandemic. Involve finance and determine the cost of video vs in-person. Look at customer profitability.

Utilize this moment to Act Now and make changes that will mean even more sales success in the future.

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