Business guide to Coronavirus

How to structure a more effective sales strategy

If your business has been negatively affected by the global pandemic and economic downturn you are probably asking yourself: how can we grow our sales revenues again, not just right now, but in the future?

Peter Strohkorb Advisory has been a member of Business Australia since January 2013.

There is no doubt: this pandemic has certainly impacted business as usual. By now though, due to the gradual easing of social distancing restrictions, you and your team have hopefully sensed that there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

You might even be wondering how you'll kick-start your growth, regardless of what the new normal is going to turn out to be like?

One thing is certain

Whatever the new normal will look like, it won't be the same as the business model and the strategies you used in 2019 and that you likely put on hold in early 2020 when the pandemic made it to our shores.

On the flip side, consider this: on the day when the gates of business open up again, market competition will be super-fierce.

Can you imagine the mad scramble for new business by everyone in your market? Every single one of your competitors and you will be swimming in a red ocean, competing for these green shoots of business. It will be a buyers’ market.

Unless you address the shortcomings in your business model now, it will be almost impossible for you to differentiate your value proposition from your competitors' and be commercially superior in that kind of situation.

In short, to compete effectively in the new normal means you must adapt your business model to one that achieves a lot at the same time. It needs to be a business model that fulfils more than half a dozen outcomes simultaneously.

Your business must

  • responds and adapts well to the new normal 
  • strengthens your relationship with existing customers
  • can attract and win new customers
  • positions your customers and prospects front and centre
  • maximises your sales pipeline volume and quality
  • accelerates your deal velocity (for revenue re-growth)
  • stays one step (and preferably two) ahead of your competitors
  • reduces your risk (as well as that of your customers)
  • is sustainable and easy to manage.

Now, that's quite a list, isn't it? With that, my questions to you are:

1. Have you reflected on what you used to do, and why it no longer suits the changing selling environment?

2. Have you reviewed your business model(s) and tried to imagine what changes may be needed to cope with the slowed economy right now and in a post-pandemic world?

3. Have you considered making a 'plan for a plan', i.e. asked yourself how you can best prepare for what many call 'the new normal'?

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What is the best way forward for now and for your future revenue growth?

Many businesses just like yours may have already made adjustments to their business model in the past few months. Some have had to make very tough decisions on matters such as reducing staffing levels, cutting costs and other crisis-related short-term challenges.

Others have allowed themselves to become paralysed with indecision and uncertainty. In my opinion, too many executives and business owners have (perhaps subconsciously) chosen to take on a 'wait and see' position, instead of using this time constructively to conduct strategy reviews and craft a new plan, or (at least as I call it), a plan for a plan.

To illustrate, I am borrowing a line from Keziah Robinson, the business strategist and coach based in Boston, USA, who says: "You are not the economy."

What Keziah means is that you should focus on controlling what you can, and not sweat what you cannot control. In doing so, you will be able to avoid panic decisions or being paralysed by fear and uncertainty.

What can you control?

As it turns out, you actually have quite a lot under your control that you can adjust, change and improve. You see, at a minimum, there are three important components of your current business model that you can adjust. They are:

1. your go-to-market strategy

2. your prospect engagement process

3. your sales funnel and pipeline.

Going on the above, the good news is that you already have the essential building blocks in place. So, a lot of the change is really just about re-aligning and refreshing what you already have.

The traditional sales funnel

Did you know that the origins of the traditional sales funnel date back to the 1890s?

The sad news is that nothing much has changed over the last 130 years in the way that organisations look at their selling model.

Many are still viewing their sales effort and selling mechanics with an inward-looking lens, insofar as it is viewing the sales process from the perspective of how sellers want to sell. 

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The problem with this model is that buyers don’t want to be sold to. This was true before the pandemic but is now much more amplified by the more challenging selling environment.

With this in mind, the old sales funnel concept has been re-imagined and updated for the new selling environment of the 2020s.

The old sales funnel has been turned around so it is now less focused on how sellers want to sell, but more focused on how buyers want to buy. The modern sales funnel is set up to help customers buy. Most importantly, it is set up to help customers to buy – from you!

The modern sales funnel

First off, there are a few more steps in the new funnel to make the buying experience smoother and more consistent.

The modern sales funnel is also more nuanced as it bridges the traditionally separate functions of marketing and sales and gives buyers a more pleasant engagement experience with your organisation. 

Therefore, it starts out looking at your brand promise, your product or service description, your – very important – value proposition, your buyer prospects, your competitive positioning, your customer experience and advocacy.

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If all that makes it sound very complicated, don’t worry. Download this free sales funnel acceleration checklist to help guide you to uncover the hidden gaps, speed bumps and bottlenecks that are slowing down revenue in your current sales funnel right now.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Business Australia. 

Peter Strohkorb

Peter Strohkorb

Founder and Principal – Peter Strohkorb Advisory

Peter Strohkorb is a sales expert in the Tech, IT and Services sector. He's also a published author, a professional conference speaker, workshop facilitator and executive mentor.

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