3 Tips for Navigating the Sales Process When Nothing is Certain

Mathematician and professor John Allen Paulos once said, “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is.” Yeah, we’d say that statement perfectly describes our current situation.  

The past few months haven’t looked at all how we thought they would. They’ve been a learning experience for everyone. So, at a time when sales leaders are making some big decisions for their teams and organizations, we sat down with two of the smartest sales leaders we know to get some advice.

Lessonly’s Director of Sales Enablement, Bryan Naas joined forces with Co-Founder and COO of Ambition, Brian Trautschold to talk about the world of sales. (Yep, that’s right, two sales leaders with the same great first name.) They offered a really helpful glimpse into how leaders are changing the sales process at a moment’s notice and taking a hard look at accountability, training, and adjusting to our new normal. 

We’re a bit biased, but we think the entire discussion is worth a listen. We’ve also got some highlights from their discussion below. Enjoy!





Accountability means something different right now

Accountability usually looks like closed deals, calls made, and deals sourced. And while numbers are still important, it’s just as—if not more—important to be transparent with your reps right now. So, keep looking at the numbers and metrics with your team, but let them know that things look differently and that’s okay. And, if you’re like 62% of the other sales leaders who will change quotas in 2020, let your reps know what your new expectations are. You can also see what other sales leaders are saying about forecasts and their teams here

“One of the first things that managers have to remember and be transparent with their teams about is that numbers are changing. Outreach is going to look different. That doesn’t mean that accountability changes, though. One of the things we’re really focusing on is transparency and looking at the numbers and strategy together.” —Bryan Naas  

“It’s important to remember that you can only be accountable to the things that you can specifically drive. It’s management telling reps, “Here are the things that I’m holding you accountable to right now. I know that you can do X, Y, and Z.” —Brian Trautschold

Coaching and feedback loops are crucial 

We’re used to working under the same roof as our teammates. Now that we’re all in different locations, that sense of connection and teamwork is more important than ever. Because reps are navigating new challenges and having difficult conversations with prospects, they’re likely feeling a little less confident in their skills. That’s why it’s critical to keep feedback loops and coaching sessions on the calendar. This will give reps the chance to prepare for calls and share best practices or tips that have helped them throughout the sales process. 

“We’re seeing a lot of managers double down a little more on coaching because it’s required right now. And, I’m hoping it’s something that will be able to continue once we all get back to the office and get back to some of that camaraderie.” —Bryan Naas

“It’s about that frequent coaching and having a very structured coaching cycle that everyone knows. Look for ways to do more frequent stand ups and check-ins. I think that stuff is really smart because everyone is isolated. And, a lot of folks aren’t used to that.” — Brian Trautschold

A relationship is more important than making a sale 

Yep, we said it. Some may consider this taboo, but we believe the best sales teams are leaning into connections and empathy rather than closing a deal. The fact is a lot of organizations are hurting. Instead of pushing for another call and making a sale, encourage and empower your reps to understand the challenges their prospects are facing. This will build a lasting relationship that may even result in a closed deal in the future. 

“At this time it may be better to build a relationship. We know what the current situation is. Be valuable. Sometimes value means closing the deal and getting your software or your product to them. Sometimes value means not doing that.” —Bryan Naas

“Don’t let your reps be that person pushing for a contract. We want our team to first understand where prospects are right now and see how we can really be helpful. How can we deliver as much value as possible in their current situation? They’ll be more likely to have good business in the future, but the rep pushing for a sale probably won’t be thought of that highly in a couple months.” —Brian Trautschold

Nothing feels certain right now. But, if your sales team is flexible with forecasts, transparent with rep expectations, and adjusting your training and coaching process day by day, you can weather this uncertainty and do Better Work.


About Lessonly

Sales teams move fast and sales enablement should, too. With Lessonly, learn, practice, and perform like never before. Learn more here

About Ambition 

Sales Leaders, HR Professionals, and C-Level Executives use Ambition to recognize, motivate, and develop employees into more engaged and productive versions of themselves. See more of Ambition’s remote resources here.

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