After some months of lockdown, trying to understand what was going on, I believe that it is the right time to analyze the situation and start thinking about how to face the coming months with this absolute uncertainty on what the future is preparing for us.
During different virtual conferences I attended in this period I can say that a common understanding of the situation is that: what we face today, most probably is not what we’ll see tomorrow. That’s the reason why we need to make our sales strategy adaptive, enhancing flexibility and reactivity.
Dealing with a huge sales region like mine, covering Italy, Iberia Peninsula and LATAM, I experienced a very tough scenario due to the COVID 19 pandemia. I must say that telecommunications sector was and still is one of the market that didn’t stop operations even if we noticed different changes in strategy, networks deployments and priorities. Something that unavoidably affected sales.
Everything started in Europe, so from a certain point of view, what we learned here, could be applied in other Countries in LATAM for example, after some weeks. We could speak with our customers trying to anticipate events and helping them to be prepared. Unfortunately, due to different reasons we couldn’t apply our so called “European strategy” to these previously mentioned Countries. And this is mainly due to different social, political, economical local aspects.
Due to COVID 19 and the related lockdown we had to change our sales strategy in such a way that we could fit into the customers plans without jeopardizing our processes. This was really difficult. We had to assure purchase orders even if our customers changed quantities, lead times and payment terms. So re-negotiating terms was one of the most important activity. And this was happening everyday and without notice.
The pandemia changed also global transportations, so deliveries suddenly became unpredictable. We had to speak with our customers to speed up their orders because we had limited availability for shipments. We had also to convince our customers to change quantities per order to assure deliveries even increasing them for having local stocks.
Every day we were dealing with different issues and we had to adopt different solutions. Sales teams worldwide had to work closed with our customers trying to support them and even predict their decisions.
The lockdown limited our meetings imposing us the usage of different platforms like ZOOM, SKYPE, Teams, etc. We had to study the most effective way to have conference calls avoiding to waste time and above all, being conclusive. Again it was completely different than before when we could have direct face to face meetings, business lunches and dinners. The way of interacting with our customers had to be changed: extremely more focus.
Following up opportunities was also very difficult because of the availability of our different interfaces, in the company and inside the customers’ organizations. Chasing people was not so easy because of different aspects we even couldn’t immagine.
I must say that we learned a lot in this period, we learned how to be prepared for the future. Because in the coming months the global market will be under a deep change again, and we’ll be asked to support our customers inside this evolving scenario.
The market and the way of selling will never be the same. More dynamic and more unpredictable. Only flexible and smart organizations will survive and be successful in the coming years. The COVID 19 Pandemia just anticipated something that should have been happening as a natural evolution of the market in few years. A more connected and delocalized market with a high attention to the megatrends we were discussing about since time: rapid urbanization, climate change and resources scarcity, shift in global economic power, demographic and social change, technological breakthrough.
My recommendation to whom is working to build the future of his/her company is to pay an extreme high attention to the market trends and the repercussions on a particular sector. Customers are experiencing tough times as well, like everybody of us. The coming months will be characterized by different trends that will oblige us to change processes in different ways and quickly.
We’ll be asked more than never to support our customers but also avoiding putting our companies in danger. So, we’ll need to ask our managers to support this adaptive attitude in sales in order to save business and, at the same time, assure profitability and cash flow.
For sure it will not be easy because this new scenario il evolving very quickly and some companies will not react as expected. True. But the Conditio Sine Qua Non to stay and win this new market is to act as described.