How to Drive Sales Pipeline in These Interesting Times

Written by Shannon J. Gregg, Change Management Guide, HIKE2

Sales managers thrive on predictability: CRM entries let us understand our metrics and KPIs from lead to opportunity to renewal, and the best leaders in sales are the ones who know how to use their data to manage their business.  As leaders, there have been very few times in our sales management careers that we have been faced with such uncertainty in how to proceed – how to manage pipeline, how to keep our teams, clients, and prospects engaged – as we are experiencing during the COVID-19 crisis.

So, how CAN you drive sales pipeline in these uncertain times?  Here are four tips that will help you and your sales team to approach your quota during a deep period of uncertainty.  

  1. Drive your pipeline without driving away your prospects.  Now is the time to be sincere about your desire as a sales person to be a true, trusted advisor.  Acknowledge that these are strange times for everyone in business, and ask your prospect sincerely, “How can I help you?”. Continue to build that level of trust and confidence by asking questions that will overcome objections from the start:  “I know that now may not be the best time for you to make any purchases, but when you’re ready, what types of solutions will help to solve your pains?”
  2. Call on your inner empath.  This is a time of great uncertainty – people may not be able to visit their family, or may have school-aged children at home.  They may work in an industry that is severely threatened by a global pandemic and “stay at home” orders. Your sales call scripts or cadences may need some adjustment; revisit all of your work instructions and playbooks to see if there is a need to add a humane level of empathy.  Some folks need someone trusted to talk to, and introducing your solution in the first three sentences may be precisely the wrong approach. It’s time to really show you care.
  3. Qualify, qualify, qualify – to yes or no.  Some prospects may infer that they will be interested in the future, but now is not the time.  You can respond by letting them know that you fully understand, and that if they answer just a few questions now, you’ll know how best to engage next quarter when you follow through. It’s more important now than ever to know when to qualify to yes, and when to qualify to no.
  4. Provide value.  It may be that now isn’t the time for you to engage with this prospect.  However, look for other ways that you can provide value; ask them what it is that they ARE looking for, and try to find that connection for them.  They’ll remember the kindness, and favors play well in the universe.

In the center of the storm, it can be challenging to see a way out.  However, it is critical that sales leaders and great sales people do not push, force, or strain relationships trying to retire their quota.  Remember, our prospects and clients see us as experts who provide advice that they can trust…and that mantra should lead all of our sales activities.

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