I’m sure you’re sick to death of hearing the words Covid-19, Coronavirus and Lockdown, never mind unchartered and unprecedented. In fact you could even be excused for hoping the news might have a story about Brexit – that’s just how far we’ve come since last year.
All this said, it can’t be denied that one way or another this is going to have an effect on every industry sector, so here’s our sales recruitment take; our view on what will happen once the ‘new normal’ finally arrives.
The sales sector is going to be a funny place for a while until it levels out. On one hand businesses are going to need to generate revenue so surely they will need to hire sales staff. Yet on the other hand not everybody is going to want to spend money, and those face to face meetings will be hard to come by unless you’re happy to sit at the end of a very long table wearing a mask! We joke, but this is already happening in some parts of the world, and if company policy is that visitors must wear masks then you may find yourself in this situation.
There will definitely be things to be sold, and people interested in buying because that’s business, but there’s undoubtedly going to be some new trends in sales tactics, products being sold, and the sectors experiencing the most growth. So here are 3 key areas of change we feel it’s worth thinking about over the next 6 months:
1 – EMPATHY
You’re perhaps already tired of all the empathetic sales emails you’re getting, you know the ones where they are really concerned about how you are and how is business is, even though they have no idea who you are and want to set up a chat immediately to discuss their products. Whilst the badly formed approaches will grate on you and fail, the companies that get the empathy right will likely fare better than those still going for a hard sell.
Initially people are going to be nervous about making sales calls, and whilst they won’t be easy I do feel there’s going to be an understanding that we all have jobs to do and we all have to put food on the table. It’s likely that initial approaches are going to work best when showing genuine empathy, and focused on fact finding, sharing situations honestly, some gentle scoping of sales opportunities, and where there is a possibility, leaving details hoping to set up a demo etc. Much less ‘last minute space’ and ‘last stand at the show’ style approaches, especially the latter as the exhibitions industry has been obliterated.
Some sharp shooters might mix the empathy into their offering with ‘3 month free trials, to get you back on your feet’, and there will undoubtedly be a lot of adjusted sales pitches to emphasise why the products (If they can) will offer real value advantage in the climate, which leads onto my next point.
2 – NEW USPs
I think this will really start to show over the next few months, while companies bustle and frantically change their marketing to reflect new desirable USPs some of which were already heavily being pushed like immune-boosting and cloud-based. The newer ones will be things such as; helping you offer a remote service to customers, 100% sanitised and bacteria-free packaging, fully remote service (no contact required), protects against pandemic risks etc.
Companies will be trying to sell you things that make you better equipped for the next lockdown, better equipped for remote working, foods and products that make your immune system better, services that you used to have to do in person in a remote non-contact format.
People will be looking for these things, and where possible people will be packaging things up to at least appear the best thing for this purpose, and it’s likely the truly great products offering these things as well as products heavily consumed at home will see the most growth. Areas such as remote access software, remote document management, ecommerce & marketplaces, pick up and drop off services, virtual reality, online education services, gaming, isolated holidays, pandemic insurance, wrongful dismissal solicitors and so on.
If you are not selling products that are hot in terms of what’s happening, and you’re trying to sell something people already have there may be more scrutiny on price and relevant service than before. People will look to tighten their purse strings and won’t be putting up with people not being flexible in the way they offer things based on the current circumstances, if there are people offering it for cheaper and more remotely. But whilst people being spend conscious can be viewed as a negative for the best margin, it can actually be a real positive for those that can be competitive on price as if you have a product people need and they are looking to streamline costs, why wouldn’t they be interested?
ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT/INSIDE SALES
In terms of sales recruitment and where the most opportunities may lie, I’ve referenced an article before about why Inside Sales is one of the most cost effective and growing sales types of sales role which you can view here. And given its predominantly remote with limited face to face contact I suspect it will boom even further as companies previously relying on field sales try and save money, shifting their budgets to a more remote/ cloud based sales offering.
Additionally as important as selling is, customer retention is going to be equally key, and with a number of your clients wanting to cut spend and being called by empathetic business developers offering cheaper services, great account managers are going to be worth their weight in gold.
Overall we’re confident the recruitment market for salespeople will definitely pick up once things settle back down, there’s of course going to be a bit of a lull post lockdown while people decide what they are going to do and watch how their competitors move, but there will be opportunities for the right people and those that pitch themselves in line with what the market needs.
Zero Surplus provides specialist commercial sales & business development recruitment services for the East of England, focussing primarily on Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Essex, Suffolk, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. We recruit everything from Business Development Executives, to Head of Sales and Account Managers, and have a high success rate of delivering staff for roles other people have struggled to fill.
I hope this has given some insight into how the current climate may affect your industry. And of course, if you need any advice or support please don’t hesitate and get in touch.