A Ray of Light: Sales in the times of Covid-19

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives, from working-from-home to social distancing to hoarding toilet paper!

A lot has been said about how Sales and their prospects will react and are reacting. There’s tonnes of blogs telling people to tone down, to skill up, to build relationships now for future sales to fructify, to identify your ideal customer prospect (ICP) and tailor your communications for your ICP only. The list goes on.

Since I joined the workforce, this is the first economic slowdown I am witnessing. It is a mix of energy – like I am at the cusp of finding out exactly how much everything breaks and how everyone and every business and every city reconstructs itself. This has me excited, not for the hardship of this tenure but for the other side, where we will see a jump in the step of everyone who is putting things together, piece-by-piece.

On the other hand, this time is also immensely exhausting and we have to find ways to keep our sanity! If one could just take a step back, you’d realise there is so much more at play as we stand at the beginning of what could be worse than the 2008 recession.

Here are a few experiences that I have had:

  1. People are empathetic.
    Well, most of them are. Even the commercial guys are asking about my wellbeing and safety. This is a welcome change.
  2. We have tuned to a razor-sharp focus.
    Like Kavita, my boss/CEO/mentor, likes to say, there is no scope to bulls**t in these times. It is true and comes as a breath of fresh air. Everyone I have spoken to in the last 20 days has been precise, transparent and genuine.
  3. As a group, we are immensely productive.
    Yes, while all of us in India are now living the American dream (cos no house help), everyone is super productive. We closed 2 contracts and are discussing a third with legal. It is not everyday that my stars align this way.

Looking at what this time has in store for Product Companies.

It is a great time for meaningful products to stand out. 

An interesting thing I read recently – it is not that people or businesses don’t have the money to spend. It is that they simply are picky about where they spend. As a Rajasthani Indian, this is people describing my way of life!

Jokes apart, all expense has been curtailed to need-to-haves and not good-to-haves. And understandably so.

As a product, what better time to figure out why people buy or how they utilise you? It would be good to do some soul searching and make and sell products that solve problems and spread some cheer in the world. People have often advised me to lead in with value and I believe now is the time for all of us as individuals and as organisations, to lead with value. 

Whether it is over a game of online Catan with friends, or all the catchup calls we have with our colleagues, or when a salesperson calls to follow up on a potential client- lead with value. The value could be adding a positive outlook to someone’s day or asking them about the challenges their business is facing and actually listening to what they say.

Given the razor-sharp focus, products can use this time to break away from clutter and find their footing. 

For buyers alike, this is a great time because after a long time there is time to actually listen. To think, to ponder, to take a step back and come back stronger once we find our new normal. This is a great time to reassess strategies and to invest in what matters and what will matter, once we get to the other side of this pandemic.

And after this becomes a faint memory, I hope we can continue being empathetic, focused and genuine as people and as professionals, who can learn to pause for a meaningful conversation or connection.

“This too shall pass.”