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Sales Leadership Post COVID

by Keerat

By Nigel Dunand, Managing Director – Sandler Training


Crises share two common traits:

  1. They have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
  2. The recovery from a crisis produces both winners and losers.

What can sales leaders do to ensure that their organizations not only survive, but thrive as one of the winners?

The upturn from this crisis is likely to be faster, more far-reaching, and more decisive than the previous recoveries. Despite the massive disruption, the crisis has not been caused by any underlying structural challenges in the economy. Its impact has been almost immediate. And unlike previous crises, it looks as though we have some idea of when the disruption will end.

What strategic approaches and tools will help companies come out of this phase poised to secure a market-dominant position?

To plan realistically for aggressive growth during the recovery, there are a few basic ideas we can consider.



Do we have a team focused on building our recovery plan?

Not “getting back to normal”, not “crisis management”, but getting ready to succeed in the new business environment we will face. Markets may change in profound ways; our job as sales leaders is to understand those changes and adjust to them strategically.

We must be willing to examine emerging trends, and the five main competitive forces that drive market changes
• Competitors
• New entrants
• Substitution
• Customer Behaviour
• Suppliers

These five forces have been part of strategic planning since Michael Porter defined them over forty years ago. We can see them as sources of “threats,” or as strategic “opportunities” for growth. In assessing them, our recovery team can get a clearer sense of how our markets are likely to change and how we plan to change.



Right People. Right Roles.

Sales teams will be faced with new challenges. Speaking with many of our clients, we hear clear evidence of changes in how their customers will:
• Evaluate their process for making buying decisions and assess ROI
• Review in-house vs. outsourced activity as they refocus on their core competencies
• Evaluate their supplier base, searching for more innovative suppliers, and strategic partners

These changes suggest that sales leaders need to re-examine their current processes for hiring and recruiting.

The major question for sales leaders shifts away from ‘Do I have the right people?’ to ‘Do I have the right people in the right roles?’
We need to review what is needed to implement our sales strategies in terms of right skills, traits and competencies, and assess our people so we can understand which of type of sales role we are filling, and who provides the best fit.

How are you currently assessing your people and teams? Can your assessment process be improved? Do your people possess the requisite traits and skills that will ensure they can be successful in the new environment? Are they both willing and able to do the job you design for them? The answers may not be familiar or comfortable, but they must be identified.

The traditional single axis Hunter vs Farmer sales model has been updated to more accurately identify and help answer questions about key sales competencies. See the box matrix



Using specialized sales assessments will take much of the guesswork out of the most critical decisions, and go a long way to helping sales leaders identify the ideal team.



Emerge Stronger From The Crisis.

Critical new processes will be developed and adopted during the recovery phase by those companies that emerge stronger from this crisis. These will be processes that make better use of:

• Strategic planning tools
• Tactical sales engagement tools

Such as:
• Revised plans for strategic accounts
• Updated and revised pursuit plans for your most critical deals, whose priorities have likely now shifted since the onset of the crisis
• Engagement plans with your key channel partners to ensure you are aligned and they are equally engaged

Creating a targeted market development plan, using the KARE tool:
• Keep. Which segments, clients or channels offer stable income, but limited growth?
• Attain. Where can you find the new growth? Which clients can you win from your competition?
• Recapture. Where have you lost ground in the past and can potentially recover now?
• Expand. Which of your current segments or accounts offers the best chance for up-selling or cross-selling?



Don’t Wait Until You See Results.

Waiting until we see results means waiting until it is too late. Results are
a consequence of previous activities. Leadership must look at quantifiable behaviours and track the leading indicators that show how well, or poorly, the organization is performing. Do not simply track £sales. Track the behaviours that deliver sales.

The successful sales leader will likely already be energized and excited by addressing the challenges ahead. They will have recognized that in the new environment, the D-players have nowhere to hide and the A-players on the team have already risen to the top.



Sandler Training has 250 offices around the world. They have developed a customizable market recovery and development planning process that can support sales leaders as they plan their way through the next phase of their organization’s growth.

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1 Devon Way
Longbridge Technology Park
B31 2TS

0121 222 5590

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