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Turn Your Funnel Upside Down and Shake Out a Plan to Over-Deliver After a Crisis

May 15, 2020 | By Seth Marrs

  • Leverage downtime to prepare sales to be more productive when we defeat Covid-19
  • Channel your inner organizer to better understand your sales funnel
  • Use this time to connect with buyers using new methods that may be more effective

For many sales reps, the daily routine has ground to a halt with the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers are in a crisis, and no one is thinking about buying anything but the essentials. However, this situation also provides the capacity to prepare for success when we move past this. There are opportunities to set your sales organization up to over-deliver at this point. Here are four things your teams should be doing right now to set yourself up for success:

  • Sales force automation (SFA) system spring cleaning. Time to clean up your SFA system and all the other tools used to maintain relationships and drive sales. Merge contacts, update account details, and remove or progress those old opportunities that have been wasting away at the top of the funnel. Clarity is key. Channel your inner organizer, and fix anything that makes it hard to see the true opportunity in your funnel (see the blog post “Five Steps to an Annual Salesforce Automation Audit”).
  • Opportunity analysis. Sales reps should review every opportunity in their pipeline and develop a plan to over-deliver going forward. Account plans should be fully up-to-date, and sales managers should be reviewing everything to develop a plan to provide support and incentives. This is not just forecasting — it’s strategic planning and should especially target opportunities that have not been a focus in the past but could be valuable with a fresh approach. Leave no stone unturned.
  • Progress the relationship. Trusted relationships are forged during trying times. The opportunity analysis will provide a strong understanding of your funnel and potential opportunities. Use this time to connect and progress the relationship. It’s not only about finding ways to add value, which you should do, but also about analyzing interest level to better understand where this opportunity fits in your overall plan to succeed. Make sure to update these details in the customer account plan.
  • Identify better ways to interact. While it may not be the time to sell to a customer, it’s a great time to connect with new methods of communication. Most people have specific preferences for how they want to interact, and many will engage if you find the right method or sequence. For example, a cadence like sending an email followed by LinkedIn connection and then a text will work for some and not for others. Try many different cadences and contact methods with the goal of finding out how to reach key buyers. This will be valuable in the future when the focus turns back to sales. Keep track of the different cadences with each person and look for trends that work across multiple buyers so you can use them immediately with new contacts.

Now is the time to prepare to ensure higher productivity when the team is released back into the world. As the proverb goes, “Measure twice, cut once.” This is always hard in the fast-paced world of sales. But many sales teams now have the time to do so — and should embrace the challenge to make the most of this tough situation.

Interested in best practices on how to do this? Connect with SiriusDecisions to learn more.

Seth Marrs

Seth is a principal analyst in the Sales Operations Research Service at SiriusDecisions. He has more than 20 years of experience leading sales operations, service operations and marketing organizations, and excels at leveraging data, process and technology to drive growth in organizations of all sizes and in all industries. Follow Seth on LinkedIn or Twitter @smarrs88.

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