Social distancing without revenue disruption

What happens when in-person meetings aren’t possible? This is the reality for many enterprise sellers as the global spread of COVID-19 drives selling and buying organizations to adopt no-travel, no-meeting and/or social distancing policies. As a result, many companies find themselves with large sales teams of frequent flyers grounded in the office, functioning more like inside sales teams. How to keep sellers focused on performance over presence, and creating customer intimacy in a virtual context.

Donna Lehman

And now I would like to introduce you to our host today. Mark Grimshaw the executive director global consultancy for Korn ferry.

Mark Grimshaw

Good afternoon everybody and Good morning and thank you for taking the time to be with us today and we recognize her difficult circumstances are both personally and in your business lives. So we really appreciate it.

And our goal for this webinar series is to share ideas that might help you keep your businesses, moving forward, whether that's about your personal leadership.

Keeping your people motivated and productive or caring for the financial health of your organization or your teams and today we have talked about the impact of social distancing

We all know what that is. Now, of course, but how many of us would have recognized the word, let alone the concept three months ago.

And this is this is this unprecedented and truly global situation is genuinely brand new to almost everybody and with that newness comes the opportunity to do things differently.

What happens when in person meetings are possible.

which, let's face it is the reality for many sales people as the global spread of covert 19 drive selling and buying organizations to adopt no travel and no meetings and now social distancing policies.

I used to work for a strategic consultancy firm. Some years ago, and we as a company would travel the equivalent of the distance to the moon and back three times a week, imagine just stopping that literally overnight.

And so we've been researching sales behavior for decades and the data is really tough and even without the travel and meeting constraints of covert 19 and only 31% of organizations say that they can effectively identify and gain access to decision makers.

Only 40% said they successfully used questioning skills to reveal buyers realized and unrealized needs.

And only slightly more half of them, half of them can articulate solutions. Well, and that data is in the inner world where they can travel, they can visit, they can see face to face, they can sit with their clients.

So think about your own relationships, business or personal, personal and consider what's happened to them in times of adversity, because we are certainly entitled

I'm sure you can all think of circumstances where

Where, where you've been tested and maybe you've tried them. So maybe you failed one that comes to mind for me is a great example of building relationships.

With some some sometimes strangers in the case in adversity and this case, it was the weather. So it's November in the UK.

small team of colleagues and I crashed together to try and assemble all things a Hangout.

On an NFL because the storm is coming. Now, we don't have proper storms in the UK in the way that we do in North America and in parts of the Far East. But nevertheless, it was going to be windy.

And we didn't know each other that well but a local charity and restored some airplanes and they were sitting on the hang on would be an outside and will be damaged and if they were left in the elements

So we start to work together. And frankly, everything goes wrong.

The panel's don't get that the hangar was donated so we couldn't complain, but the panel's don't fit the hardware is missing the wind comes early and battles us

And for three days we returned to the Advil every day and I see in that group. I see kindness. I see.

Frustration surprisingly good and surprisingly poor behavior, but we finished the job. It turned out well. The winds top 120 miles. And now that weekend.

But the pressures airplanes was safe. And importantly, our team formed a bond in that time the diversity that exists to this very day.

So let's be clear, I hope that the this crisis is that we're going through the covert 19 is far less dramatic than some of the

Things that you all now be thinking in your own world. But I do suggest that with careful thought and planning sales people might be able to use these times to work with their clients and build valuable enduring relationships.

Companies are finding themselves and you probably are on this call as individuals or as leaders.

With large sales teams of what used to be frequent flyers grounded in the office. And finally, now in their home office functioning more like inside sales people. So the question is,

How do we keep salespeople focused on performance in the absence of physical presence. How do we create customer intimacy in an almost exclusively now virtual world.

I mean of course very we've been we've completed nearly 70 million assessments on assessments.

Assessments on executives all levels over the years in the pursuit of understanding what makes a great leader.

And I would suggest that in times of adversity. We all need the characteristics of a leader.

Of our companies of our teams while portfolio, sometimes even of our clients and our customers. And now, more than ever, sales managers and sales people need to lead.

I put it to you that the challenge is not just to help our customers to survive, but how to help them thrive.

And I don't mean take advantage of the situation. I mean, adapt and learn and continue to serve their customers in this new and frankly slightly scary situation.

So I'm delighted to be here today with with two of my colleagues Byron Matthews, who's the chief Commercial Officer recording very digital

And he will share his experiences and what sales people can practically do to work through this challenging time but first I'd like to introduce Seleste Lunsford. So this is our chief research officer and sales effectiveness and she's been in sales effectiveness space for over 25 years

And during that time has had the privilege of not just working with large a large range of companies B2B B2C and retail

On their unique selling challenges, but also collecting the insight of thousands of sales organizations across the world.

So, Seleste help us put this in perspective. And I know it's more complicated than it sounds. But on the surface it seems like sellers should just be doing a lot of what they do today, but in a virtual format is it as simple as that.

Seleste Lunsford

Well, there's something to that for sure, Mark. So one of the things that we see when we look at sales as a whole is there's a great number of sales roles that are turning Inside Sales roles.

And if you look at talent across the sales spectrum that's probably the role that's growing the most. And over the last couple of years.

It's amazing. Really the complexity of solutions that people now sell purely from an Inside Sales model.

And even taking it further. There's a whole bunch of commerce that happens B2B e commerce and in fact B2B e commerce is going to outpace B2C. So lots of that.

Can be applied for sure. But having said that 66% about two thirds of sales positions, particularly in complex selling our field based roles.

And those are expensive labor organizations to have. So the reason that they still exist is because they work. One of the things you see is that from a complex sales perspective.

Feel people who use in person calls. Well, so they place them at the beginning and the end of sales cycles, just have higher when rates.

And the reason why tends to be those intangibles so if it's trust. So, for example, there's the old adage of just, you know, being able to look someone in the eye.

Some of it is around the things that you can accomplish when you're on site. So, for example, there's a lot of times you can gain an additional meeting because you happen to be in the building.

And that's that's justification enough to be able to get a couple minutes, you might be able to get a little bit of

Extra rapport building. So you gain 45 minutes with an executive, but you might get an extra three minutes in the front and back end as you walk to and from exits.

You pick up a lot of cues and clues around the culture of an organization.

So there's just a lot of those sorts of things. And those are hard to replicate. So yes, you can take the same presentation deck and you could instead of passing it out or projecting it on your screen. You can use a system like this to show it.

But it's not going to replace those other intangibles and those add up over the period of the interaction and over the period of a sales call

So when Mark was talking about the challenges that sellers have today. The challenge we see is we're going to have a group of sellers who are hired to sell in one way, asking to sell in a completely different way.

buyers who are used to buying in one way, buying a different way and both of them having a lot of things going on in their organizations that are causing them to change.

So what's going to be created is this physical distance this physical gap between people and also an intention or a focus gap, and we hope that that short term.

The challenge though, is it over lies. What we've seen is a growing gap over the last two or three years and that's an emotional gap.

So buyers and sellers have been drifting apart for some time. So as important as those face to face calls are for sellers.

Buyers haven't been seeing them as relevant for the past couple of years. In fact, they offer less calls to salespeople. They're usually later in the sales process and they're usually shorter

When we've talked to buyers 77% of them told us. They're just not as connected to their sellers as they used to be.

In fact, from their perspective. Those sellers really don't provide the business connection that they did in the past, they're not a business resource for them.

The same time those same buyers told us is they don't see a whole lot of difference between the sellers that when business they think of is their best sellers and the ones who come in second place.

68% of them told us that they just don't see that much of a differentiation. And that's a problem because that represents a gap that was already there.

Now the good news is that 90% of those buyers said let's not the way they think of necessarily every seller.

In fact, what they said is there are times when I do want to engage and I find sales people a lot more valuable to me.

Those times I want to situations challenging or it's risky. It's highly visible and complex. And that's basically the world that we all live in now.

So we look at this information. And we see this this physical gap and this connection focus gap sitting on top of this emotional one

It could go two ways, one of which is we could leave this situation and sellers be even more distant or mediated from buyers the gap gets bigger.

Or depending on how we go to market. Now, it might be an opportunity where we can start to close some of that gap. So it's more about the approach, not just. Can I take some of the things that I would do in person and do it virtually, but how do I need to change my approach arc

So I guess the question for you, Byron and as we transition over to the next speaker is, what are some of the levers that you would pool. If you're going to change the approach.

Byron Matthews

Thanks Seleste, you know, so let's talk about sales performance.

Environment that's less physical and more distant and and virtual. Now, the key thing is that the fundamentals don't change whether you are on this call, you're a sales leader.

sales professional individual contributor, or you support the sales function. The efficiency in the effectiveness of your sales funnel.

Is based on a simple set of variables and that's on the on the bottom of the slide here. So think about the first part of this, think about what a and Q may represent for a second.

So let's take the first part a and this is the amount of activity. The amount of activity that you execute around your customers, your clients every single day.

Now with social distancing and more virtual environment. And this is less about face to face meetings. So I said, So, clearly the type of activity is is shifting, but the amount should not do you guys think about

Different ways of connecting with your clients obviously more phone calls and zoom and zoom meetings and email and social

Social connecting but this is the time to be more proactive than ever to replace your face to face meetings, not with administration, but with

Other ways to connect with your client. But here's the key thing is the second piece which is quality. It can't be activity for activity sake.

Right, it's got to be high quality. And so the way to think about this is, think about is a simple check, ask yourself a question.

What does the client or the customer get out of this interaction. Why make this phone call. What is it going to benefit them in terms of

Their what things they're trying to solve or things that they're trying to achieve.

And that should always be constantly in the back of your mind that these is kind of just pick up phone and

Try to set up a zoom meeting or send an email, socially, try to connect with somebody

But do it from the perspective of quality and continuously check yourself. But the key thing is this equation has got to be balanced. You cannot see a drop off in activity is certainly quality, just because we can't get in front of somebody face to face.

So what takes away from this in this queue will clearly t which is time, the time that it takes to develop this activity.

With the high with with the right level of quality and so if if your idea is, hey, you know, I'm going to put a piece of thought leadership together.

I'm going to use this to send to my clients and hopefully stimulate some ideas and then try to get a meeting. Great idea.

But if it takes you forever or all day to put that thought leadership together and that might not generate the level of activity that you need.

And so get help my, my advice would be, is you got an organization around you.

Talk to marketing, talk to your peers. Find out various different ways that you can reduce the time to get high level of activity out in the market.

Now, if you see this part of the equation. That's one more really important piece to it. All of this is divided by the

Thing about second what what what D stands for that's distraction and it's pretty clear that today's environment. We have plenty of distraction.

But there's two things I would ask you to think about. The first is, from your perspective, the world's greatest commercial teams sales teams sales forces. They are caper focused on

Activity and the quality of activity. They are very disciplined organization, but this is the time to be more discipline than ever.

Think about putting in measurements and metrics around activity during these times.

Put benchmarks out there around how much activity. Do we want to have around our client look at our look at your funnel, the shape of your funnel. Where do you need certain activity and different

Aspects of the other stages in your funnel and specifically put goals and metrics around that and manage that as an organization.

The second thing to think about is, you're not the only one distracted. So your client, right, and the very specific impact these days have on them.

You need to consider and you need to think about. So what does that mean in terms of how I interact with them what messaging. How do I help them.

And so make sure that you're connecting with them from a position of value, not from what you need, because they're very distracted, too. And time is going to be very limited.

So this is a time that you've got to really think about this equation. Think about what drives sales performance. Think about the various different variables. And now that we have social distance

Let's face to face meetings, the dynamics have changed, but the fundamentals have not. So how do you replace that with again quality activity that can be done efficiently that's focused not distracted to drive performance in your sales funnel.

So with that, Mark. I'd love to get some opinions from this group regarding various different priorities.


Great. Okay. Go to the poll Seleste


Absolutely. So this is a question that we have been asking our clients and the folks that we work with, with regard to what guidance.

Our sales people being given. So what guidance and you can check all that apply. Because I'm sure it's more than one thing.

But what kind of guidance. Are you giving sellers on which of those levers that they do need to start pulling. So, for example,

One organization that you work with, or saying things like, hey, I want people to really focus on top of funnel, because the value proposition, they have

Is very unique right now and very valued could be very helpful. So they want to focus on casting a broader net

Another one might say I really am focused more on bottom of the funnel. We've taken a lot of these opportunities, a long way and we need to figure out what has changed about what this client needs to

Fix accomplish or void, and what do we need to do to reconfigure our solutions.

There's still others. They're saying, you know what I don't want my sales people really focused on the funnel. Right now the activities. I think are going to have the higher ROI.

Or service activities. Right. I'm worried about implementations achieving milestones and I think their time could be best spent out doing service type or customer success type work.

There could be additional enablement opportunities. Lots of people looking at that quality libre that Byron mentioned so that 10%

What kind of training shutting offer. What do I need people to do, how am I giving them a little bit of guidance.

It's hard as a salesperson right now to know how to approach a conversation like this, I want to engage with people, but I don't want to look inappropriate.

Maybe it's around time big opportunity for efficiency. Here we using tools, the way we should be. Are there different things we should do to be more efficient.

Or it might be all about engagement and culture and managing a distraction.

And there's some organizations who have told us, frankly, we don't know enough to have changed our approach and we're just going to go along with status quo and adapt on a daily basis. So hopefully, as I've been going on, you've checked all those that apply. And I'd love to see Donna

Whether or not. We've got a consensus on things that might be appropriate right now.

So we should be able to see the results in just a second. I know. Zoom is a bit bogged down today. As you guys can imagine

There's tons of webinars happening and shout out to


One moment, we're going to try it one more time here.


Sure, and a shout out to zoom. By the way, because they're also doing a lot of free work for educational purposes and folks trying to train from home.


Are you able to see it now.


Thank you Donna

So bio, and I will get this. I'm not surprised. And essentially, you'll see a pretty evenly Activities their little more towards perhaps the the activity, then working through time. The good news is most people tend to be a bit proactive about it.


I think they use tools and data more efficiently is an important one. I certainly want to touch on that next so

The sales equation or the effect of this equation that I spoke about earlier. Kind of gives you the context of what drives sales performance.

Right. And it's times like this where that A times Q component of it is is really, really important. So let's talk about a few ideas.

That you can consider that would maximize your performance in in in times like this. So we'll start with this first one on the top left redirect travel time to relationship building

You know, a part of our research would suggest that 32% of sellers time is with client interaction, it's probably not as high as we'd like. But

But 10% of their time is in travel now maybe that resonates with some of you or or or most of you.

But there's certainly a lot of time spent with seller travel now clearly now that is reduced. People are working from home.

And so the question was, what do you do with that 10%

Right, what we would argue is don't move that to administration time don't don't don't move that to some dead weight loss, where

Essentially, you're trying to, you know, stay at your 32 or 30% of whatever it might be around client interaction. Our advice would be used that time to drive more activity.

Again, think about putting metrics in and goals in place around the amount of client interactions again on their terms.

Not yours, but this is a unique opportunity for many sellers who are on the road, all the time.

To take that time and reinvest that in high leverage, high, high value type of client interactions as a marketing agency that we work close with that their head of business development, put a goal out there across all of their business Development representatives that said, Now that you're not traveling all over. I want you to spend that time.

Connecting with five new people on social media, every single day. So researcher accounts, you know, there's tons of people that you haven't connected through yet. You haven't got to that time yet.

Find a way to connect with them use that time where you're not traveling to build and begin developing relationship. I think that was a great idea.

The second piece around user tech stack. And so it actually just came up in the in the poll that I think it was like 36% of you thought that this would be an area to to

Further invest your time, the average based on our sales operations study. This is, this is actually a little bit. This was surprising when I saw it. But then as I

Started thinking about and talking to clients. It's so true. The average organization has 10 pieces of technology that they deploy to help drive sales performance sales productivity productivity tool.

Pen. You can imagine that when you start double clicking on that data and start looking at the research that's so much of that is underutilized.

And there's so much opportunity to improve the way that sales organization engages in leveraging technology to drive productivity while right now is a really good time to make that investment to really understand

How do I drive more effectiveness with the tools that I'm using, was that engagement platforms or customer success platforms or social media tools, whatever it is, what is in my environment and how do I get more leverage from it in times like this.

And there's a kind of simple things to think about. I'm sure we all have webinar web based platforms to be able to communicate with clients.

There's features and functions that we typically don't use, for example, as we're now having more virtual meetings. Ask your client or customer. If you can record those meetings.

Like this gives you better history of of the notes and and you know, be able to reflect in that conversation, but it also gives

People that support you, whether that's your sales leader or others visibility to specific actions that can help you coach what the next move in.

Or maybe video conference that ask them if you can go on a video right because clearly that will provide more focus in the discussion less multitasking and so those features and functions that we typically may not always use that you may want to consider.

The third thing on the bottom left. Left is repurposing content.

It's important to know that now that we're in a virtual environment content is used differently, right, if you're in face to face, and you got a presentation.

It's also easy because you're reading the room. You can see how people are reacting. You can stop the presentation. Have a conversation

Right when it's virtual it's oftentimes harder to do that. You can't necessarily read the room. So your content needs to be agile.

You need to pause more stop more asked questions asked for understanding and acceptance and when you don't get it.

You gotta be able to adjust. So your content needs to adjust. Maybe you got to flip up really quick.

Your financials, or your value proposition. Go back to your main presentation. So think about your content in components.

And think about how you can leverage that in a zoom environment or a virtual environment where you can quickly kind of adjust your approach based on how that meeting is going to think carefully about your content.

And then finally, leading with perspective. Actually, I think this is the most important one. I've alluded to pieces of this

Of this earlier around how to engage in times like this. So here's what we know, regardless of this environment. We know that selling is changing, that the successful sellers.

Have evolved. It's not just about needs based or consultative type selling showing up asking questions.

Getting answers understanding needs and pitching a solution that's actually not what the best do sure that's a big part of it.

But what they're also doing is adding value inside of that sales process, bringing content in insights and getting buyers to think differently about the problem or the solution that they're considering

It's adding value in the sense that helping them educate what to do next. What moves to make. And this is a different selling motion, it's more difficult. It requires different skills and methodology in our vernacular in our content. We call that perspective. Okay.

Today, and what we're going through right now, this couldn't be more important. So when you engage your client, make sure it's not from the position of your shoes, the things you're dealing with

And and you're just trying to drive activity and check in on a project.

But it's about what they're dealing with, what are some of the issues they may be facing given today's environment. How can you step in and help with them and maybe that's connected to something they're selling to maybe it's not relevant about being there for your customer.

Good example that is there's a sales of a software as a service competent illustration business and they transact billions of records every single month.

And they have unique insights into their clients sales organization.

And in one case, there's one a certain clients that do a lot of work in Retail, hospitality, you can imagine the impact it's having on their quiet.

And so they're proactively bringing ideas to them around their sales force.

And certain compensation metrics, they may want to consider the short term during these times.

And they have so much data to show up and give them an example of things they should be thinking about proactively doing with their Salesforce.

And so letter context, you're in whatever environment, whatever industry, it might be. There's

Things that you do ways that you helped that can that can transcend just kind of sell off thing is actually helping them achieve your

Your clients, whatever that might be. Their objective whatever's going on in their world to think about engagement and activity on their terms.

And not yours. And most importantly, be proactive and bold about helping them because this is a time where we all need to connect with each other. We all need to support each other. So with that, I'm going to turn this back over to Mark


Yeah no, thank you so much barn and I couldn't agree more. From the perspective of a couple of questions have come up in the

In the Q and A around how to, how do I engage with clients being in difficult situations themselves. I think Barnes hit the nail on the head. Yeah, you need some technology and some techniques.

But also just genuine open there in the same situation that you're in, perhaps a better one, perhaps a slightly with us one

And but but genuine open communication. You'd be surprised in times of verse. You'd be surprised. So, so thank you both for your time and we don't have a couple of minutes left, so just like to

Cover number of people in the Q AMP. A also asked me have copies of the presentation. The answer is yes. And we also have two places for you to go the QR codes here. The first one is

A white paper or a paper on social distancing which you can

We should can download our point of view, and it covers a lot of things that are in here in the stats and then also please go to our website, which is currently being is constantly being updated on

Just on the covert 19 piece. And so I'd like to just close with challenges that lie ahead of us a considerable and and and

Most people are in a genuine the uncharted territory, so I'll leave you with the fact that isn't it's incumbent on us to implement all of that learning agility that we hear so much about to help our clients in their endeavors.

And develop deep different and deeper relationships in terms of diversity and then help our customers, our teams and ourselves to prepare for recovery, because this will recover and when it does, we need to be ready. So thank you so much, Dr. Davis, you just for the final piece.


Thank you, everybody. That was a wonderful webinar today. And as Mark said, and we want to remind you this recording is going to be made available to everyone who registered the slides will be made into a PDF for you to download, so you can access it and view it anytime. It'll be later this evening or tomorrow.

And we hope that you have a chance to sign up for the ongoing series, tomorrow we will be discussing keeping your people engaged and productive through the crisis. Thank you. The meeting has ended.

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