What lessons can we learn from the sectors that are continuing to sell?

Since the global economy has headed sharply towards recession, we would expect to see engagement levels decline but in fact, there are a number of positive signs. Surprisingly, new business levels have remained surprisingly resilient in certain sectors during the pandemic, especially within the professional services and IT and software sectors, suggesting that these firms have shown the greatest resilience to the downturn.

Professional service firms have seen strong demand for their offerings, with an eight per cent increase in proposal engagement in July. The sector also recorded month-on-month increases of 14 and 11 per cent respectively in June and May. Engagement rates in the IT and software industry have remained relatively stable, with small drops of less than one per cent in June and July. The media sector rebounded slightly with a six per cent increase in July, demonstrating that the sector is levelling out and could show signs of growth later this year.

What can we learn from their adaptability?

Aside from indicating that these sectors are going to be the ones that will rebound quickest, providing opportunities for businesses both in and outside the sector to create sales, they also provide us with clues about how to adapt to the new sales environment.

Clearly, these companies have products and services that have enabled them to stay relevant even as economic conditions deteriorate. But they also are likely to use remote sales approaches, with teams operating from client offices, so should have found the remote-sales environment easy to adapt to. These sectors also typically are clued up on sales technology, using CRM systems and top-of-funnel tactics, which can effectively be operated from anywhere. It’s worth having a read of my piece on data and metrics for more on this.

However, there are other “quick wins” that we can learn from firms in the professional services and IT sphere that don’t require significant investments in technology. Since remote-first is not new for these companies, they are adept at building trust and camaraderie, mentoring junior members and overcoming challenges without being in the same room as one another.

Regular calls should be part of any sales team’s calendar. But asking reps to submit their numbers and best leads in advance of a video conference is a way to induce friendly competition and get the best out of people. Similarly, making the use of technology to join live sales calls, in order to provide immediate feedback, is something that the IT and software industry does especially well to support remote team members.

Knowing where to look

In these tough economic times, small businesses will live and die by their ability to adapt to new conditions. Businesses within the professional services and IT and software industries, in particular, should find there are still adequate opportunities to secure new business. But these sectors have also remained resilient because of the approach to sales that many had instilled long before COVID. For companies outside of these sectors, therefore, making better use of data and employing technology to connect remote teams – all things that high performing sectors do well – will stand them in good stead.

Mark Tanner, Co-founder, Qwilr

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