Flexibility has always been a prized quality in sales. A good salesperson needs to stay dialed in on results while adapting their strategy and tactics based on feedback cues from the potential buyer, and doing this well involves a complicated mix of emotional intelligence, resilience, and focussed curiosity.
But the past year has shown that a good sales staff doesn’t just need to be able to flexible when dealing with clients — they also need to be able to respond proactively to changing material circumstances that make it a lot harder to do their work.
As lockdown measures have been instituted, repealed, and instituted again, many salespeople have had to figure out how to generate leads, engage potential customers, and close sales from their bedroom or kitchen table, cut off from the camaraderie and support of their office team. Managers and executives have needed to develop new strategies for effective team management in a remote workplace.
With the outlook for 2021 still uncertain, here are a few things to keep in mind when building a sales team that has the capacity to handle rapidly changing circumstances.
1. Everything Has Changed
In the first months of the pandemic, there was an idea that things would eventually go back to “normal” — that after a few months of working from home, everyone would be back in the office.
But over time it has become apparent that the experience of the pandemic lockdowns is likely to reshape how we work for years to come, and sales teams need to start taking this seriously when hiring new talent.
2. Change Brings New Opportunities
One surprising outcome of all this is that many companies are finding that they prefer a more digital approach to sales. According to McKinsey, many in the B2B world are quite happy with remote marketing, and it is likely that this will remain the industry standard even after the pandemic is over.
This means that sales managers need to re-think how they handle recruitment and hiring. Sales associates who have honed their skills through in-person dealings will need to adapt to this new state of affairs, while younger, more digitally-native salespeople may become desirable additions to your team.
3. Sales Hiring Needs To Be More Targeted
All of this means that when it comes time to bring on new staff, it is important to target the skills and aptitudes that will be needed in the workplace of the future.
One way to do that is to hire a recruitment agency that specializes in connecting sales departments with candidates who have the right mix of experience, talent, and industry knowledge.
Sales recruiters use a variety of tools to determine not just how experienced or committed a salesperson is, but also their drive, nature, and acumen, making it a lot easier to home in on the particular attributes you are looking for in a new team member.
According to Forbes, one of the biggest challenges in 2021 will be improving team agility and self-organization. That starts with finding staff who can stay flexible and motivated in unpredictable conditions is essential — especially in the sales department.
If you want to make sure your sales team is up to the challenge, make sure your hiring process is geared toward identifying individuals with the right balance of drive, aptitude, and professionalism to deliver results under even the most unpredictable conditions.
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