Written by: Bhaskar Mukherjee
About the author: Vice President, Customer Strategies YTY Group
Impact of COVID -19
The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting 213 countries. As long as the world has not found a cure or a vaccine for Covid-19, we may have to adjust to a “new normal”, meaning a new way of living and going about our lives, work and interactions with other people. “With every crisis, there is an opportunity. For the communication industry, this crisis gives us an immense opportunity to work with our partners to innovate and find different ways on how to come back stronger after Covid-19. Finding the new normal for our businesses will be very critical”. Now that many countries are easing their economic and social restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s a lot of talk about “the new normal”. What does this mean?
Financial Impact of COVID-19
Symptoms & issues a business may face
- Downward trend in sales, earnings and free cash flow
- Increased inventories – leading to obsolescent inventories
- Increased supply chain risk
- Tightening cash flow and strained working capital
- Breaches in banking covenants
- Creditor build up and non-payment of statutory debts
- Deteriorating customer relationships & risks of bad debts
- Deferred payment of staff salaries
- Default notices for non-payment of loan, rent and/or leases, etc.
Impact of COVID-19 on businesses
COVID-19 affects different businesses in different ways. Here’s a look at a few businesses that heavily rely on foot traffic:
Retailers – those in shopping malls have seen a drop in sales of 50 – 70% since the outbreak of COVID-19. Small independent retailers may be experiencing the same.
F&B outlets – restaurants may be allowed to open for takeaway and delivery services, food trucks have been temporarily banned in selected areas
Healthcare – pharmacies are allowed to open during this period so the impact should be minimal. In fact, manufacturers of soap, hand sanitizers and medical supplies, such as masks, may even see an increase in sales due to the sudden spike in demand
Beauty or Wellness services – this is a sector that will likely be hit hard during this period because the business is mostly dependent on people visiting their stores to enjoy the service It’s clear that the impact of the lock-down is not the same for every business. However, businesses that have adopted some form of digitization may have a better chance of surviving compared to those who have not.
Sales in New Normal
For anyone who’s part of a sales team, his job was probably got much harder recently. He had to quickly adapt to remote working. He had to pivot his aims from chasing new business and he is now selling to people who suddenly have a lot more to worry about than buying his products. But at the end of the day, the world is still turning: people are still buying and deals are still closing in many industries. COVID-19 may even be surfacing new use cases which urgently require attention, and businesses are competing on delivering against them.
Ultimately, sales leaders are looking for ways to address today’s current challenges. Which is why need to understand the top 5 COVID-19 challenges faced by sales teams today.
- Everyone is now virtual selling
- Lack of visibility into how COVID-19 is affecting customers
- Risk of sales rep productivity and participation declining
- Sales leaders have to make decisions faster than ever, but are faced with uncertainty
- Working on deals with distributed cross-functional teams
So much is being said about the new normal, and it appears that we are at the cusp of a new era, a new world order. COVID-19 has changed the way that businesses look at operations, clients and on a more human level, talents. Collaboration between clients and agencies become even more critical to ride through these uncertain times. Consumption has obviously changed given the fact that everyone is at home with in home consumption having gone up.
Digital and e-commerce are experiencing the biggest boom, from a social content perspective as well as with more consumers shifting their purchasing behavior more to online. Another area which might continue to enjoy growth post pandemic is e-wallets, as consumers get used to that method of payment.
Moving forward what will be important between brands and consumers is whether or not brands are providing authentic experiences and connections. There is a need Sales in New Normal for balancing between a business focus and a talent focus – ensuring that while we maintain productivity, we also look at wellness and keeping talents engaged.
Four Reasons Why Virtual Selling is the New Normal
- Virtual Selling Accesses a Globalized Market
- Virtual Selling Quickly Aligns to the Customer’s Changing Needs
- Virtual Selling Enables an Agile Approach
- Virtual Selling Accelerates Trust Building
Sales professionals are more effective when the customer perceives them as a trusted advisor. This coveted status belongs to sales professionals who have a more sophisticated, in-depth understanding of the customer’s challenges and goals. A trusted advisor is equipped to address the complexities of the customer’s industry and is therefore consulted in advance of decisions.
Virtual selling capabilities help sales professionals ascend to this level by leveraging the immediacy of a virtual connection to facilitate more interactions. With an understanding of how best to use the virtual medium, sales professionals are always prepared to jump into a discussion with a group of stakeholders and become an influential voice. This increased frequency of interaction helps blur the line that traditionally separates the stakeholders from the sales professional.
Put simply, strong communication advances trust, and trust advances the sale. The connection between trust and positive, regular engagement is not only intuitive, it is also proven. Consider a massive 2015 Gallup study covering 2.5 million manager-led teams across 195 countries, which determined that “engagement improved when supervisors had some form of daily communication with direct reports.” This same principle applies to the relationship between customers and sales professionals. A virtual presence allows regular communication that is critical to establishing and maintaining the trust that precedes every sale.
Virtual selling is here to stay. Sales professionals who develop the skills to sell virtually will benefit not only now, but also in the long term because the circumstances of today are redefining what will be normal in the future.
Companies and their leaders will have to get used to heightened competition. Those who take the initiative, respond decisively to the challenge, differentiate themselves from less fleet-footed competitors, and execute their strategies with single-minded determination can still expect to grow. For those companies, the Great Recession and its new realities present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.