The aftermath of the last two years has left sales teams with a remarkable challenge they haven’t encountered ever before – building and maintaining relationships with their customers in the absence of in-person connections. We’ve seen lockdowns, reopenings, and then mini lockdowns again, leaving businesses to pivot and adjust on what seems like a monthly basis. Even as we look forward to the future, it’s likely that the ‘new normal’ will bring an entirely different way of doing business than sales teams have been accustomed to in the past.
Customers, both commercial and in business, expect more flexibility, more digital experiences, and more self-service tools to engage with brands and businesses to complete their purchases. Sales teams need the right instruments and technology to engage these customers and build relationships on their terms. If your sales team is struggling, as well as your bottom line, you may need to check in to be sure that your sales team is properly equipped with the tools they need to succeed.
Even as mask mandates start to lift, it seems as if the workplace will look different than it did pre-pandemic depending on the industry. Most American employees now expect more flexible or remote working schedules as they’ve gotten accustomed to the benefits of working from home – no long commutes, decreased travel and food expenses, more time with family. Some companies have even let office space go to help reduce office space costs. According to ZipRecruiter, remote positions receive 300% more applicants than jobs that are not and the number of available permanent remote positions doubled from 9 percent to 18 percent and may reach 25% in 2022, according to Ladders, an online job search service. Employees are in the driver’s seat and are prepared to leave a job if they do not get the flexibility they expect.
But the shift to a more remote-based workforce means an increase in more digital and self-service capabilities, and with those changes came a new set of struggles for customer-facing teams:
- Decrease in person-to-person communication. People have become accustomed to speaking less and relying on email or text in the absence of in-person meetings or calls.
- Decrease in relationship-building activities. Health concerns create less opportunity for in-person meetings and relationship-building events.
- Technology difficulties. The dependence on new software and digital-dominant functions can be a struggle for less tech-savvy employees.
- Increased working hours. Workdays are less defined and mobile devices allow for an ‘always-on’ perception.
It’s no wonder that customer and employee satisfaction levels are at an all-time low. In an environment where business and buying habits have changed so quickly and will likely continue to do so, sales leaders need a clear view of not only what their customers want, but also what their employees need to be successful.
Do your employees need more training on new software? Tools for better time management? Do they need supplies to create a more optimal workspace? The freedom and budget to find creative ways to engage and build relationships in the absence of social activities? Are they informed about changes your customer’s new discovery and purchasing preferences so they can modify their selling style to meet the needs of the customer? What is the competition doing to better prepare their teams?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s time to ask. More than anything, your employees need support and strong leadership through this transitional and stressful period of adjustment. Listening to their suggestions and ideas will not only show them that you value their contribution, but it will lead to more successful outcomes for your business.
Vennli provides the insights you need to make fast decisions aligned with employee needs. We start by interviewing a cross-section of employees to gather the insights needed to develop your custom survey. Then we will work with you to field the study, interpret the results, and create an action plan. Learn more about how we help you help your employees here.