Kanvic: Seven ways to get sales back on track post covid-19

03 June 2020 Consultancy.in 5 min. read
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Following the fallout of demand due to the Covid-19 induced downturn, sales have taken a large hit at most companies. Amid a changing customer environment and a competitive landscape, getting sales up and running again and bringing revenues to pre covid-19 levels will require a solid effort.

Gehan Wanduragala is a Principal and Head of the Sales and Marketing practice at Kanvic, a management consulting firm with offices in India and Europe. He sat down with Consultancy.org to discuss what sales leaders can do to accelerate their way back to recovery.

Setting up a sales circle

According to Wanduragala, navigating the challenging times ahead will require a multifaceted task force of sorts, which he terms a ‘sales circle.’ Alongside having experts in sales, services, marketing, commercial strategy and product development, members of the sales circle should all be relatively tech savvy, in keeping with the anticipated reliance on virtual tools.

A sales circle should be put together on the basis of merit rather than hierarchy. Individuals from any rung of an organisation who have shown commitment, creativity and an understanding of the business and its consumers should all find a place at the table. This multifaceted, talented and agile group can then navigate the post-Covid-19 business environment, which will require quick and clear decision making. 

Sales circle

Reevaluating financial statements

Once the sales circle is in place, it is important to revisit sales plans from the start of this year, given that most of these will have lost their relevance under the circumstances. Sales targets need to be reset, not only at a monetary level, but also in terms of composition. 

According to Wanduragala, certain revenue streams will have dried up, while others will be relatively steady. With a focus on maintaining cash flow, an effective strategy would be to realign the business focus on areas that remain lucrative. For simplicity’s sake, he suggests that accounts be categorised into: surging, safe, at-risk, and unknown. 

“Retuning” offerings

In similar vein, the third recommendation is to examine product offerings. The Covid-19 crisis, the lockdown, and the resultant economic scenario has dramatically affected consumer priorities. Many businesses will find their products to be irrelevant under the circumstances, while others will find their offerings have surged in popularity. Not only should businesses realign their offerings based on market demand, but they should also examine how their products can take on a new avatar in the current environment. 

“For example, Marico launched a new product line in vegetable wash during the lockdown, this category was originally created to target consumer worries about pesticides and chemicals on food but today consumers' primary concern is contamination with Covid-19,” explained Wanduragala.

A focus on pricing and payments

Once revenues and product offerings have been realigned, the challenge is to set the right price. Businesses will be toeing the line between maximising profits from in-demand products while remaining price competitive in what will be a tense market. The sales circle will need to be detailed and comprehensive in its approach to pricing.

Terms of payment may also need to be revised in order to make them more appealing to customers, given that current structures such as ‘minimum orders values’ can be an extra deterrent at a time of low spending. “The sales circle should conduct a rapid re-assessment of each account's credit terms in light of the impact of Covid-19 on the individual customer and their industry overall. They should then re-rank customers and redefine payment terms accordingly,” said Wanduragala. 

Boosting remote selling

While there was some inertia regarding virtual sales arrangements in India previously, most businesses have now been forced to adapt to the new conditions. According to the Kanvic Principal, businesses now need to consider which aspect of the sales process will be shifted online.

One model is where the existing sales interactions are conducted virtually using video conferencing tools but little else changes. In a more advanced model, the entire sales process including the eventual financial transaction is digitalised, making it a shift to the ecommerce domain. In India companies are at different stages in the development of their digital infrastructure but the current crisis is turbocharging the transition.

A shift in sales coverage and incentives

Similar to the realignment of revenues and product offerings in line with market trends, sales coverage should also be aligned better with pressure points. In many cases, this will require shifting from a geographical sales strategy to one that is based on specific industries and their needs. This is primarily due to an overall shift of the sales process to the virtual sphere. 

To drive this shift, Wanduragala recommends a realignment of staff to put those with virtual selling expertise at the forefront. Sales incentives must also be realigned to ensure that focus is being placed in the right place. 

People management

Wanduragala’s final recommendation is to create a purpose-driven atmosphere in the organisation. Rather than motivating the workforce with sales targets and deliverables, he recommends that people be brought into the decision-making fore and be instilled with a sense of purpose in the organisation. This can drive solidarity and collaboration in a time of crisis.