What happens when ‘the new normal’ gets…old?

In our last blog post, we looked at the concept of ‘the new normal’, specifically how, while remote working was a major shift for business, it was change itself that was the new constant. This week, we’re revisiting that topic, and looking at how the world of sales and sales training is continuing to evolve.

The day after tomorrow

Lockdowns around the world are beginning to either be lifted or loosened and workers are beginning to at least consider life beyond Zoom, but we’re still a long way from a return to our pre-2020 working practices. Indeed, given everything we’ve learned over the last few months, the new skills we’ve adopted and the new processes – born of necessity – that we’ve invented, that might even be a good thing.

A recent article in Forbes at the end of April with the headline “Change is the new normal” discussed what organizations are abandoning since COVID-19 and what they will not continue to do once things return to ‘normal’. While there were some fascinating insights, particularly relating to the long term emotional and psychological effects of remote working, there was still a sense of an ‘afterwards’ – the idea that, at some point, we’ll get back to business as usual. But maybe that’s missing an opportunity?

Time to reinvent the wheel?

„Already pre-covid, sales reps spend only 36% of their time actually selling – the majority of this time 64% is spent doing manual administrative tasks”

State of Sales Research Report, 3rd edition

The key takeaway from recent events is simple: companies that are flexible, that are agile in their thinking and are able to pivot quickly and effectively will not just survive, but thrive. Customer purchasing habits and channels have understandably changed, so it’s essential that vendors meet them in this new arena, able to serve their needs as they adapt.

A recent McKinsey survey highlights the speed of the move to digital:

  • Preference for digital now ~2X more than traditional sales interactions; self-serve, digital ordering methods now prioritized.
  • Remote selling is now the norm and perceived to be effective: 96% of B2B companies have shifted their GTM model during COVID-19; 64% believe the new model is just as effective or more than before (up from 54% in early April)
  • Sales model changes are expected to stay: 32% are “very likely” to sustain these shifts 12+ months after COVID-19 and another 48% are “somewhat likely” to do so

Source: McKinsey, 2020

Remote selling has now officially moved from its status as ‘poor second’ to traditional sales methodologies, as fast-moving companies adapt their techniques to digital channels. In our last article we discussed that, while companies had been forced into a remote working/selling model, at least half of respondents surveyed (in the econsultancy and marketing weekly) were as, if not more, productive than earlier this year. A change, born of necessity, had actually been beneficial for productivity.

It’s interesting to note that McKinsey reports the effectiveness of the new remote sales model as having risen by 10% from April to May – but this hasn’t happened by accident…

Training at its core

As ever, it comes down to effective training. The effectiveness of remote selling techniques relies upon sales teams really understanding the difference between digital and traditional and being equipped with the right tools for the job. If you’re up for it, take a quick look at the remote selling tip sheet, created to navigate you through the transition and making your remote selling more effective.

However, it’s one thing to say ‘these are the skills needed for success in remote sales’ and quite another to provide those skills to the workforce. This is where companies need to start thinking holistically. It’s not enough to embrace a philosophy of flexibility and agility in sales – sales training has to be equally adaptable.

In the same way that sales teams are adapting their strategies – meeting the customer where they are, employing different media/channels to gain attention and engage – sales training has got to look ahead, not just react to the existing situation. In many ways it has to be even more sophisticated than the sales teams being trained – for a solution to have real business
value it has to anticipate the challenges ahead, not merely react to those presented today.

Think tomorrow. Act now.

If we’ve learned anything over the last few months, it’s about the power of communication – to entertain, to inform, to engage. A great learning solution has to do just this, providing relevant scenarios and content that is genuinely up to date. It’s got to meet the learner where they are , providing them with exactly what they need, when they need it, in a format
that they can enjoy and engage with.

As we remarked in the last article – change is the new constant. Every week brings different challenges and opportunities. We need innovative training solutions that look ahead and equip us for the next normal.

Take a well-earned break

Whether you’re at home, at the office, or somewhere else – trying to cope with the situation, we’ve created a mental training pack for you to activate your brain to stay on top of things. Take a look.