September 17, 2020 | Marlin Staff Writer

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses underwent a forced experiment of their employees’ abilities to work remotely. Maybe a work-from-home policy was something you’d been thinking about implementing but never got around to it. Maybe managing sales teams remotely seemed too daunting. Maybe it seemed overwhelming from an HR perspective — how do you define who can and can’t work remotely based on roles? How do you keep it fair?

At many businesses, working from home is the new norm for our post-pandemic world. Because their business relies on consistent meetings and (what was) face-to-face interactions, sales departments might have had the toughest transition to digital. As the world opens back up, it is likely salespeople will still want to lean on digital tools for more efficient and effective interactions between buyers and sellers.

Digital channels and tools that previously evolved over years have now been forced to implement in weeks. This pace of change presents a huge opportunity for businesses, but only if they are willing to keep pace with the change. Below are three opportunities for your small business to accelerate digital sales initiatives through training, digital sales enablement tools, and easy online portals for buyers to use.

1. Don’t just redeploy your sales team as it was before.

It’s tempting to act as if you’re returning to “business as usual” post-pandemic, but that’s simply not the case. The world has changed, and your business has to change with it. It’s imperative to adjust your sales processes to align with how your customers want to buy and implement any necessary digital sales enablement tools.

Start by making sure your sellers are focusing on high-value tasks. If something is avoidable, able to be automated, or able to be pushed off, do it. Make sure you’re prioritizing your salespeople’s ability to provide a human touch, especially when leads need advice. Everyone is more digitally savvy after working remotely for months, so don’t hesitate to use the technology to augment your processes.

2. Audit your tech, and adjust accordingly.

Before the pandemic, companies were in one place, trying to reach on-the-go customers. Now, customers are in one place — home — and your company is likely the one in different locations. That warrants an audit of your technology stack and operational processes. What worked well during the pandemic that you want to keep? What could you cut? Could a virtual sales platform help you augment your processes?

To remain competitive, an agile sales team has to have the resources and user experience customers want. Otherwise, they’ll move on. Take a hard look at the technology your team uses. In most cases, simple is better. Your agile sales team is already used to meeting digitally. Now is the time to develop processes around that and any digital sales enablement tools you throw into the mix have to have a strategy behind them. It will pay off in the long run to make sure the digital sales tools you implement are simple and easy-to-use for your customers.

3. Become a more virtual salesperson.

Take a fresh look at your value proposition and customer pain points. Chances are, they need some updating to better fit with a post-COVID world. For example, customer pain points might have been a lack of efficiency and a need for centralization, so you hit those aspects in your value proposition pitch. Now, customers are dealing with risk, anxiety, and a distanced workforce — those are the pain points to prioritize with your digital sales tools.

In this new landscape, salespeople will need more than interpersonal skills to be successful — they’ll also need to be collaborative team players. This helps humanize the digital process and forces salespeople to work on their digital interpersonal skills. For example, maybe a salesperson’s MO was wining and dining prospects. They’ll have to figure out new strategies to win someone over on a Zoom call just as easily as at a fancy restaurant with a bottle of wine.

Can a sales team thrive remotely? Chances are, you’ve realized by now that your team not only can thrive, but also might be more efficient than ever. Now it’s time to help them bring that efficiency and digital savvy into their roles by changing processes accordingly and providing your people with the digital sales and marketing tools they need to be successful.