COVID-19 has changed day-to-day life as most of us know it, and the sales profession is no exception. We’re hearing a lot about “the new normal” where field sales are obsolete, outside sales reps become inside sales reps, and face-to-face meetings with buyers are pretty much a relic of the past.
Not so fast!
While the pandemic has changed the way a lot of business gets done, many core values and practices of B2B selling aren’t going anywhere — though some will need to be reimagined, realigned, and redefined for a post-COVID age.
The changes we’re seeing — the new normal we’re hearing so much about — actually began long before the world saw its first COVID-19 cases. While the pandemic may be expediting the change, we believe that it would have happened anyway. In some ways, this is an exciting time for the sales profession.
There aren’t many positive things about COVID-19, but one is that it has demonstrated what a lot of sales leaders were already thinking: that long-term, complex B2B selling could happen with significantly fewer face-to-face meetings, less travel and entertainment, and more strategic inside support from sales operations and sales support.
Three pre-pandemic factors were already hinting at a new normal where technology and global trends would enable more inside selling and require less outside selling:
A few things to bear in mind as we approach the new normal. First, inside selling is not the same as remote selling. Inside reps typically work out of an office, not from home; collaboration is a key to selling solutions and to sharing legacy knowledge. The inside sales rep of the future will be part of a dynamic team, not a lone wolf making calls from a home office. Second, field selling isn’t going away, though right now there are 15 inside sales jobs for every outside sales job. We can’t stress enough that inside sales shouldn’t be seen as steppingstone to outside sales. The two disciplines require different talents and attract different kinds of people. Third, and most important, the future of sales — both inside and outside — will require high level creative problem solving skills. Sales reps who know how to ask the right questions, demonstrate empathy, elicit the customer’s story, brainstorm with buyers, identify problems, and offer solutions will differentiate themselves from the pack.
Michelle will dive deeper into this topic at WorldatWork’s Spotlight on Sales Compensation on Thursday, August 20, at noon ET. Our friends at Open Symmetry are offering 20% off your registration.