In early March, everyone’s coverage model was forced to change. No longer were we allowed to meet customers or prospects in person, and unfortunately, this still holds true four months later. Which has caused us to ask the following questions:
- How long is this change going to last?
- Will it be permanent?
- Will we need to change our coverage models in the future?
The answers to the first two questions are unknown. What is known is that things will not go back to what they were before COVID-19. There will be a new normal, and while these changes may vary to some degree, it will undeniably be different from what has worked in the past.
This helps answer the third question of how will you need to change your coverage model in the future. More specifically, will you be required to change the way you cover customers and prospects?
To learn more about how selling motions changed during COVID-19. Check out this SBI Webinar: Revising Your Sales Coverage During COVID-19.
Changing Your Coverage Model for the Future
As you think through how and what changes need to be made, you should use the following principles and best practices to guide your decisions. These ideas have worked for years and will continue to work in the future to help weather any storm.
The thing that will change going forward is the answers to these questions. What works today will likely not work tomorrow, and you will need to change your thinking when answering these questions.
- How do, and will, your customers want to buy?
- How does your coverage model align to and help achieve your strategic objectives?
- How do you get the right people covering the right accounts?
- How can you maximize rep productivity?
Whether your sales team goes back to being on trains and airplanes every day or continue working from home (the likely scenario being somewhere in between) if you follow the four principles identified above, you will be making the right decision for how to cover accounts.
For a more detailed list of guiding principles and questions to ask when evaluating or changing how you cover accounts in the future, download the Coverage Model Principles and Questionnaire.
How Do, and Will, My Customers Want to Buy?
Over the last four months, sales leaders have learned that business can go on without seeing customers in person. They have made video conferencing, and phone calls work for what they would typically do in person. This has caused our customers to change their expectations and sometimes their buying process.
This change poses the question: Now that customers know they can buy products and solutions remotely, how, and will, their buying preferences change?
When you are designing your coverage model next year. You need to evaluate this question sincerely.
- Interview your customers – make sure you understand their buying preferences after the pandemic. Customers buying choices have likely changed forever. Assuming they will go back to the way they were before the pandemic will be a costly mistake.
How Does Your Coverage Model Align to and Help Achieve Your Strategic Objectives?
Many companies over the last 4 months have moved to a “protect the base” mindset by focusing on retention rather than new customer acquisition. Learn more about the topic by reading “Retention is the New growth – Why Customer Success is Critical Today.”
Whether you are re-designing how you cover accounts today or plan to next year, make sure that you are aligning how you cover accounts to your strategic objectives. Far too often, this is overlooked.
How Do You Get the Right People Covering the Right Accounts?
Regardless of whether you are traveling or working from home. If you can answer the question, how do I get my best people to cover my best accounts, you will have success.
As sales leaders adapt to the new normal. How you answer this question may be different. Instead of everyone traveling, maybe you have a smaller portion of your sales team travel. Maybe your Customer Success team will travel more – since organizations are more focused on retention versus acquisition.
Regardless of travel, strategic objectives, or retention vs. acquisition, make sure you are asking yourself, do you have the right people covering the right accounts?
As you think about aligning the right people to the right accounts, do not have tunnel vision on what used to work. Ensure you are continuously keeping the customer in mind and addressing their needs.
How Can You Maximize Rep Productivity?
SBI clients have seen an increase in rep productivity over the last few months while working from home. This is due to reps having more time to be on calls that would otherwise be dedicated to traveling on airplanes or sitting in Ubers. However, while this increase in rep productivity is great, many reps are becoming fatigued because of it.
Below are key takeaways of what SBI has found after talking with our clients on how to best manage your team’s productivity. You should consider incorporating this into your headcount and productivity models when designing your next coverage model.
- 1-hour meetings are great for in-person and 30-minute meetings are better when on the phone.
- Leave a 15-minute gap between your calls—the majority of your calls will run over. Additionally, this gives you time for post-call follow up, and to stand up from your desk.
- When on video conferences, you are more reliant on presentations to help drive the conversations versus engaging with whiteboards in a conference room.
- Pre-call prep is much more critical. You lose your ability to read the room and non-verbal ques. Ensure you have a story and supporting content ready.
Eventually, face to face meetings with customers will happen again. However, some of your customers will continue to request virtual meetings instead. When this happens, and more of your salesforce is working from home, be sure to incorporate the above learnings to maximize your rep productivity.
Regardless of what the new normal looks like, it will be important to evaluate your coverage model and optimize how your organization covers accounts. To do this, you should follow the guiding principles outlined in this article and in the tool provided. For additional information about coverage models and how to optimize account coverage, contact us.
We encourage you to join the community, engage with your peers, and share leading practices in SBI’s LinkedIn Group, “Inspire Others,” as we navigate these challenges together.