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Is The Art Of The Big Deal Dead? Tips For Addressing The Changing Sales Landscape

By News Creatives Authors , in Small Business , at September 29, 2021

Marty Falaro is EVP and Chief Operating Officer of Wasabi, with over 30 years of operating experience in startups and large tech companies.

The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically impacted many industries and jobs, and sales is no exception. A discipline built on in-person meetings, trade shows and nurturing personal connections, sales has had to quickly pivot to continue to drive leads and results. For a job that relies on relationships and trust, this has been challenging for many organizations — especially in the face of increasing pressure to drive business results in a struggling economy — and has the potential to completely revolutionize how sales are conducted.

As the COO of a fast-growing technology company, I’ve seen how we, like many other organizations, have had to make some significant changes to our sales strategy over the past year and a half, and I’ve learned some important lessons along the way. The pandemic has shown us that significant, unplanned business disruptions are not just possible, but they are also probable; sales teams need to have strong and agile foundations that can flex with these changes. 

Here are some vital steps sales organizations must take for future success in our rapidly changing business landscape.

Balance your teams with both young talent and experience.

Both young and more experienced sales talent bring important qualities to the table. Entry-level talent often has a valuable fresh perspective and enthusiastic attitude, and individuals that have already been trained by a different or larger company and know how to sell and use sales tools can jump right in and contribute to the organization earlier on in the onboarding process. Having a sales team built with the right mix of both younger talent and more experienced employees helps teams remain efficient and agile when faced with changes in their business environment.

Another great way to effectively generate talent for your sales organization is to implement a strong internship for younger potential candidates graduating from college. This helps give these potential employees the right tools and experience to quickly become fully functioning team members if they were to join your organization. 

Implement a flexible and consistent training program.

Businesses have also had to rethink their typical onboarding and training processes for sales teams during Covid-19. A process that used to rely on employee shadowing and in-person meetings was quickly forced over to remote video meetings. This brought with it a slew of challenges, including a lack of team camaraderie normally established through face-to-face time and inconsistency across these new remote training sessions, exposing a need for more consistency and flexibility among sales training programs.

To ensure that trainees are benefiting from a uniform and effective onboarding experience, organizations should consider creating a pre-approved, digital repository of sales materials such as training checklists, tool guides and value propositions that employees can access anytime, anywhere, regardless of their work location. Outside of the trainings themselves, managers must remember to incorporate team building activities in addition to the normal training process to ensure employees are getting the interactions they need to feel like a part of a team. With this more consistent and inclusive onboarding experience, new employees are more likely to quickly contribute to a strong team foundation that can be agile and flexible with whatever comes their way.

Accept that the “art of the big deal” has changed.

Big deals are still happening — they just come together differently. When people think of the art of closing large sales deals, a complicated dance of lunch meetings, dinner meetings and other in-person time comes to mind for many. The process can be a long one to close some of the biggest contracts, with companies investing considerable money and time to bring in the deal. But Covid-19 has flipped this process on its head. Sales teams have had to evolve their art to translate over Zoom meetings and learn to be engaging and interactive over video.

As a result, sales cycles have become shorter, less expensive, more efficient, which is overall vastly different from pre-pandemic cycles. Some may be eager to go back to pre-Covid-19 sales strategies, and I’m sure some will. But now that we’ve seen how efficient we can be, I think shorter sales cycles are here to stay. And companies must accept this and plan accordingly or risk falling behind in the changing sales landscape.

Work to address burnout on your teams.

While all of these changes ultimately help sales teams become more productive and agile, it’s important to remember that there are resulting downsides that organizations must also address, such as video fatigue and burnout. One particular challenge that remote sales reps now face is that they have the ability to chase deals in more locations and time zones, leading to longer and more obscure work hours. While this is great from a business perspective, employers should balance these new hours with a more flexible schedule that enables workers to take off some time during the day to help establish more of a work-life balance. Giving employees the flexibility they need to be their best versions of themselves at work and at home is critical.

There is no silver bullet to sales success in a post-pandemic world, but if business leaders can empower their sales teams to stay flexible, strong and smart, while also keeping their employees’ well-being in mind, I see this as a foolproof formula for years to come.


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