Should you be strategic or tactical? How to sell during a pandemic

Sales during this ongoing pandemic has changed. How we sell is different than the approaches many sales teams took before it started, back in March 2020.

Since then, the world has changed. Economies have struggled, some worse than others, and some countries have dealt with the virus more robustly than others. Some countries and whole regions are almost or fully back to normal.

Whereas others are still going through some form of ‘lockdown’ or tiered system to contain the devastating impact of the virus (UK, US and several European countries in particular). In those countries, it’s advisable for the safety of everyone, that as many people as possible work from home.

Whether you are part of an outbound, inbound or field sales team, working from home (WFH) is probably still the norm, maybe with occasional visits to the office. Beyond changes to how we work, sales leaders and managers, and individual team members, need to think about how they approach sales in 2021.

Should you be strategic or tactical in sales?

Strategic vs. Tactical in Sales: What does this mean?

Strategic planning means laying out the long-term plan, broad goals that a business or sales team wants to achieve. Naturally, what a sales team wants to achieve should also fit within the overall aims of the business.

Whereas, tactical planning outlines the specific steps that need to be taken to achieve broader aims and goals. So, when it comes to achieving sales goals, does a choice need to be made between strategic and tactical sales?

Not really. To ensure sales teams succeed during this ‘new normal,’ sales needs to take a strategic and tactical approach.

How has the pandemic changed sales?

In many countries where Covid-19 is still causing serious problems across society, working from home is the most obvious way it’s forced people to change how they live and work. For the safety of everyone, including your employees’ families and friends, reducing the chance for meeting in-person, and therefore catching or spreading the virus, is the only sensible approach.

However, beyond this more strikingly obvious change, sales as a profession has changed in a number of subtle ways.

Sales teams still have targets. But, for many when this started, those targets needed to be realistically adjusted downwards. High targets and big goals aren’t always possible when growth around the world has slowed dramatically.

Not just slowed, but in some sectors, almost collapsed. Say you serve or served the hospitality sector in the UK before the pandemic hit, would you have many customers left right now? Depending on the services or products you sell, business might have dried up completely.

Even if the sector(s) you serve are still running as they were, spending is still likely to be down. Clients might have lost customers themselves, so they have less to spend, or might have had to put projects on hold until revenue recovers again

Lower revenue and sales targets are still only a couple, albeit serious ways, Covid-19 has hit the way sales teams operate.

One of the biggest, more subtle changes this year, is how salespeople and prospects and clients interact. For the first time in generations, humanity is facing a shared challenge. Unlike climate change, this is something that has impacted everyone at the same time.

Shared adversity forces us to change. Sales is one of those professions, due to the nature of the work, that has been forced to adapt. Instead of the hard sell, salespeople need to be more empathic. Being helpful is more important than figuring out a solution to sell something a client really doesn’t need.

During consultative sales conversations, it should be all about listening to the needs of a prospect. If this pandemic has taught salespeople anything, it’s that being helpful and providing a broader range of support is more important than trying to make every sale happen. Customers are going to spend more with companies that treat them well during the pandemic.

How to be strategic and tactical when selling?

When planning ahead for the rest of 2021, companies need to be strategic. Setting goals for this year needs to be in-line with how well or not companies have recovered from the initial shocks of this year, and how strong your pipeline is going into this year.

And then on a tactical level, look at the steps your team can take to achieve these goals.

For example, look at ways you can strengthen the sales process, such as:

  • Improving sales presentation documents and sales enablement materials;
  • Working on improving the questions salespeople ask when qualifying leads;
  • Help salespeople enhance and work on the pitches and presentations when they’re doing demos;
  • Actively work to improve the state of the pipeline and generate more leads;
  • Use software to make demos and sales presentations easier, such as CrankWheel.

CrankWheel: Cut your sales cycle in half with instant screen-sharing. Go from two or more sales calls to one: Become a one call close sales team.