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There are many lessons to be learned from the evolving COVID-19 situation – even (as I’ve found out personally) when it comes to sales enablement.
A few weeks ago, I sent my daughter off to Florence for her semester abroad with mixed feelings of jealousy, excitement and concern. I never expected to have her return five weeks later because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Her transition back home has been complicated. My husband has a suppressed auto-immune system, which means the two of them need to be quarantined from each other. We are living in one house with separate living quarters with a dog that’s able to roam between the two areas.
When I think about my current living conditions, I realize there are many important lessons that can be applied to my role as a field readiness coach.
#1. Keep reps informed and prepared
As sales enablement professionals, we need to work from a strategic plan that aligns with the executive team.
If you aren’t already working closely with your sales team during this ongoing situation, it’s important to prioritize meetings or calls with front line managers and reps to understand what’s important to them right now and what questions they might have. Approach these conversations as their strategic partner with an aim to understand their challenges and how you can help. From there, build out enablement programs that will help reps best handle their personal working situation and any scenarios that come up with prospects and customers.
For example, package up all the information that reps need to know into a single resource, so teams have one place to find everything. At Brainshark, we use our platform to create one-stop learning resources for this purpose. These could include communications from the executive team, IT and HR about corporate issues like work-from-home policies (i.e., if reps need to work at home, what infrastructure is in place to support that?) as well as updates from sales managers about the status of each team, how deals are progressing, any new roadblocks, etc.
In addition, if you develop any content or resources around the crisis that reps should be sharing with customers (blog posts, datasheets, FAQs, approved email templates), include those as well.
#2. Stay consistent with communication
Every day with my family, we’re discussing the plan and making arrangements to ensure that we don’t interact, but that our dog is happy. (Trust me, the dog is the wild card in our daily interactions!) This is where communication is key. Having been in sales before moving to sales enablement, I know how important it is to overcommunicate with the sales team.
Send out an email cadence to keep everyone informed of the latest and include reminders of where to find all relevant resources (above). Include a survey to collect reps’ feedback and responses as the situation persists. There might be new needs that arise for reps, so adapt your communications and content on a continuous basis. The stronger the communication between the two groups, the more effective and engaged the reps will be.
Also, given the intensity of the situation, it might be helpful to add some lighter elements into your communications, such as birthdays and milestones, win stories and relevant product and industry news to promote team spirit. You can even design coaching activities (as we do with Brainshark) that ask reps to submit videos describing their tips and tricks for successfully working at home, along with fun touches like having them share their favorite recipes.
#3. Prepare reps to pivot
Change is inevitable and we’re seeing that play out every day with the COVID-19 situation. Our environment is changing before our eyes, along with our buyers’ needs. Remind reps to be flexible when dealing with customers and prospects. We all need to be ready to pivot.
Right now, as many reps approach the end of the quarter, it’s critical to understand prospects’ needs as everyone is experiencing changing priorities. Advise teams to be self-aware, communicate clearly, be sensitive to prospects’ individual challenges, and make efforts to identify whether the prospect’s value drivers and business challenges have changed.
#4. Foster a team environment
In my situation today, I need to realize that I’m living with different personalities so it’s important to be aware of everyone’s requirements – even our dog!
In sales enablement, we need to take time to understand our reps’ needs during a tense situation. Don’t hesitate to work with them one-on-one to define solutions to problems that have come up with customers or prospects. Encourage reps to talk with each other about what’s going on at and outside of work and get the team together via video conferences or phone calls to exchange updates and promote social interaction.
Ensuring the success of your sales reps during a situation like this is still a priority for every company as we all navigate these changing conditions. Stay informed and connected with your teams and continuously revisit your plans and processes as the situation progresses.
Most importantly, don’t forget that the health and safety of your employees (and their pets) is paramount!