Last week I jumped in on a conversation on LinkedIn about whether it was appropriate for people and companies to be sending out ‘business as usual’ messages while the coronavirus unfolds around us. The general consensus seemed to be something along the lines of ‘stop trying to tell me everything is OK when clearly it isn’t, and a lot of people are worried about their jobs and livelihoods’.

I can totally understand that. These really are unprecedented times.

My own feeling, however, was that while I don’t completely disagree, business still has to carry on for the very same reasons. It’s entirely possible that those who are pushing the ‘keep selling’ agenda might be doing so out of fear more than opportunism, desperately trying their best to keep the revenue coming in and their workforce employed.

Perhaps what it comes down to is best intentions but clumsy execution. And who can blame anyone for panicking right now? Certainly, we’re seeing a lot more caution as companies start to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach.

While it’s sadly inevitable that tough times are ahead for many, for those who are able to ride things out, this could be the time to take stock, evaluate and refocus. We’re in uncharted waters here and I’d argue that now more than ever it’s an absolute necessity for companies to adapt in order to survive.

No longer business as usual

One of the things that perpetuates the status quo in business is general daily overwhelm – we’ve all got a million things to do and rarely enough time to get them done so we often prioritise the urgent over the important. Now that things are calmer, we may have more space to focus on some underlying issues that we suspect will have a big impact if we can fix them. One of our customers recently confessed to us that “I start every new year with the intention of fixing this one issue, and every year business as usual takes over and it gets put on the back burner again”. I’m sure that’s not unusual!

Now however, as most of us are no longer travelling for work and with meetings being pulled or rescheduled, we’ve likely all got a bit more time back in our days. This, then is your opportunity to work on the important stuff that often gets side-lined, and evaluation and innovation are amongst the most value-adding activities we can undertake. These are activities that will help us right now and will keep on delivering even when things return to ‘normal’ (whatever that ends up looking like).

In the world of sales then, this is a chance to take a step back and evaluate the effectiveness of your sales enablement strategies, your approach to bids and the quality of your proposal writing. Are your proposals, executive summaries and presentations really as good as they could be, or are they just the same old rehashed versions that have been doing the rounds forever and which the business has become blind to over the years?

Now could be a good time for some fresh thinking around the kind of training your sales teams could benefit from in this new reality. As businesses batten down the hatches we’re likely to see fewer opportunities coming through, and those which do will be all the more hotly contested. Closing deals will get tougher so the ability to write persuasive, compelling proposals to drive decision-making in your favour has never been more important.

Similarly, with most people now working from home and online meetings replacing face to face interaction, sales teams need to understand how to adapt their presentation strategy, since this requires a very different approach and way of thinking in order to keep the audience engaged.

Here at Sales Engine we’ve always been passionate (some might say obsessed) about these topics and when we’re not supporting our clients with major bids, we’re generally training their teams on how to improve these critical sales tools. With the (hopefully short-term) demise of in-person delivery, we’re now facing our own challenges and are working on refining the move to delivering more proposal, bid and presentation training online.

As one of my customers said a few days ago, this isn’t going to be an easy time for anyone, but it’s definitely going to drive innovation and we’re big fans of that.

These are very strange times and naturally everyone is hopeful that we can all get through them stronger and more resilient than before. The world will certainly be changed forever, and many businesses will need to take a step back, review and sharpen the critical elements of their sales function in order to survive. If this is on your mind, we can help.