What the Corona Virus Means for Salespeople [Updated]

On a call today with one of our customers we learned that their entire salesforce has been grounded due to “the Corona Virus” or COVID-19. That’s right, no air travel. His team can only meet face-to-face with prospects within driving distance.

When your company has a worldwide footprint and your typical week as a rep is spent traveling over 60% of your time, this shift causes an understandable amount of stress.

Does your sales org have a plan for the Corona Virus?

Simply put, our caller’s salesforce won’t be able to go out and meet with a large portion of their clients until concerns about the outbreak, now epidemic in some countries, settles down.

This customer is not alone. A lot of salespeople are getting the same warnings from their leadership, and to be honest, it makes sense—Google, Microsoft, Salesloft and more have canceled conferences.

At SalesReach; we love people that work in the sales profession and want to support them through this challenge. That’s why we decided to create something useful during this time because there seems to be a lot of focus on the problem, not possible solutions for people.

The typical salesperson is still going to find a way to sell. This outbreak will not stop the need for businesses to do business. We’re all going to have to embrace new technologies to make impactful experiences remotely.

With all that in mind, how are you, as a sales professional, going to ensure you win in this new climate?

Here’s our guide for reps to get through the panic of the Corona Virus.

List of sales-related conferences canceled due to public health concerns

At this point, you’re probably not going to that conference if it meets a few criteria.

Most conferences are canceled if:

  • The event is scheduled anytime before mid-April
  • It’s hosted in a major Asian-Pacific, European, or Western-U.S. coastal city
  • The conference brings in a lot of international travel

To set to tone here, 45,000 people have already signed a petition to cancel South by Southwest (SXSW) March 13 – 22, which 161,000 people attend. Facebook, Twitter, and Intel have already pulled out of the event.

A big running list of canceled conferences

  • Rev2020 by SalesLoft is canceled, March 9-11 in San Francisco
  • Unleash 2020 hosted by Outreach has been canceled due to Coronavirus concerns
  • Mobile World Congress, which had expected to draw 100,000 people to Barcelona
  • Facebook Global Marketing Summit, San Francisco, March 9-12
  • Workday canceled an internal sales meeting scheduled for Orlando from March 2-4
  • Beautycounter canceled Lead 2020, March 5-7
  • Zendesk canceled the Zendesk Relate conference, March 3-5 in Miami
  • Domo canceled Domopalooza, March 17-20 in Salt Lake City, UT
  • Shopify Unite May 6-8 in Toronto
  • Nvidia canceled GTC, March 22-26 at the San Jose CA
  • Adobe canceled Adobe Summit, March 29 to April 2 in Las Vegas, NV
  • Google Cloud’s Next ‘20, April 6-8 at in San Fransisco, CA

Sales conferences that are still a go

  • SaaStr Annual 2020 | March 10-12, San Fran, CA
  • The Sales 3.0 Conference | March 10-11, 2020 Orlando, FL (additional dates still on as well)
  • LeadsCon 2020 | March 30 to April 1, 2020
  • Digital Sales & Marketing World 2020 | April 5-7, 2020
  • AA-ISP Leadership Summit 2020 | April 14-16, 2020
  • TOPO Summit San Francisco, CA | April 23-24, 2020
  • OutBound Atlanta, GA | May 5-8, 2020

Next, tips for traveling salespeople

Here is a quick list of resources for anyone who’s traveling for business or otherwise. This mostly goes for anyone who’s going to be at an airport soon, who’s in an area of concern, and especially traveling internationally.

Should you cancel your trip due to the Corona Virus?

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are three levels of concern. If you’re traveling internationally, check out this map from the CDC.

  • “Watch” Level 1: This is an area where the CDC believes the risk of the outbreak to be pretty low and you should take some common-sense precautions like avoiding people who seem sick, wash your hands, don’t rub your eyes. Stuff your mom would tell you. Protip: get some sanitizer.
  • “Alert” Level 2: More serious. The CDC advises people who are “older” to avoid traveling to destinations with a level 2 status. What do they mean by ‘old’? COVID-19 is more serious the older you are, here’s data on COVID-19 and age.
  • “Warning” Level 3: Most serious. Why would you go here? I hope for a good reason. The CDC says travelers should avoid all nonessential travel to these places.

The CDC also advises that if your travel includes layovers in the warning areas, the same precautions should be taken.

What can I do to limit risk while traveling?

If you were to look at the CDC’s website with the map of concern you might think, oh I just have to avoid going to China, Iran, Italy, and Japan—easy enough.

Well, no. Remember that conferences are being canceled from Miami to San Jose. There are 45,000+ people who signed a petition to cancel one in Austin, Texas. And sadly there have been Corona Virus related deaths reported in Seattle, Washington.

Tactics to avoid exposure to COVID-19

  • Maybe don’t shake hands, get creative with your greeting (bump elbows?).
  • If someone appears sick, don’t interact with them—be nice though.
  • Keep your unwashed hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Take a sick day if you’re feeling like it. As Americans, this might be the one-time people might actually thank you for staying home.
  • As the CDC says, “Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.”
  • These wipes are great to have on hand. I had a great manager once who would clean surfaces that people, regularly touch: handles, desks, the vending machine, ect. after people went home.
  • Know that it takes a 20-second wash for your hands to be clean.
  • Get some alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol.

So, you’re not going to travel, now what?

It’s not just tech companies making moves for good PR and canceled sales conferences. Many events have been canceled due to the Corona Virus such as Formula 1’s postponed Grand Prix and three tournaments canceled by the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). Most of these events are in China, but more cancellations are likely to follow.

The fact is, reps are probably going to have to get creative.

At least until things settle down. Good thing we live in a world of technology to fill the gaps a little bit.

Best sales tools for grounded reps

  • Video conferencing tools like Zoom, Blue Jeans, and 8×8
  • Easy scheduling apps like HubSpot Meetings, Calendly, or Doodle
  • Video messaging to followups to meetings such as Vidyard or Loom
  • Simple live-chat to talk with customers like Drift, Intercom, or HubSpot Messages

We selected tools that you can get up and running within a few minutes. You’ll have to do your best to keep notes in CRM if you’re unable to snag an integration set up guide.

The SalesReach team has talked to a bunch of people in sales to get a good feeling for what tools have been useful and not useful. Along the way, we’ve kept some notes. Here are a few tools sorted by category to help you out.

We’ll also indicate which ones you can use for free 🆓.

Can’t meet in person?

A lot of companies have this figured out already but too many have antiquated systems in place that don’t integrate or play nice with other tools that are important to salespeople.

Here are a few great video conferencing tools for salespeople:

Zoom 🆓

Zoom has been leading the pack in giving customers a great experience. I’m in more and more meetings via Zoom these days than probably any other tool. It’s a great solution and comes with free meetings under 40 minutes.

BlueJeans

BlueJeans is, perhaps ironically, one of the more higher-end solutions for video conferencing. They have a partnership with Dolby Voice to deliver, “world-class audio capabilities and award-winning hardware solutions to organizations that demand their workforce have tools to conduct the best meetings possible.”

Google 🆓

On the other hand, you can get started with a Google Hangout link for free if you already have a Gmail account. You’ll get into a conferencing experience and chat functionality. The downside is you can’t record but if you’re on a Mac you can hack it with Cmnd+Shift+5. This is certainly for the thrifty rep.

Just announced, Google Hangouts advanced is free for a while

👇👇👇

8×8

8×8 is a fast-growing company with geared towards large enterprise solutions. 8×8 offers a lot more than video conferencing including cloud-based phone systems and technical support.

Bonus: Check out the Meeting Owl

This equipment from Owl Labs will up your conferencing game. You won’t regret setting this up at your office. It’s a great way to bring multiple people into a meeting or to bring teams together with 360 videos.

How about an easy way to get on a calendar?

HubSpot Meetings 🆓

Gone are the terrible days of email back and forth five to get a 30-minute meeting booked. HubSpot Meetings is so simple in three clicks a customer can book time with you. One thing to look out for though, make sure you send the meeting scheduler link with a suggested time slot(s) to make it even easier for the less technically inclined.

Calendly 🆓

From what we’ve seen, this has been the go-to for hustlers. If you’re already using Calendly, congratulations you’re probably one of those reps who just really loves to bring value and we have respect that. Seriously, the word about Calendly spread fast and it’s a solid tool.

Is a white-glove approach the way to go?

Vidyard 🆓

In all the conversations that we’ve had with salespeople who are leveraging video in their sales efforts, Vidyard is the most well-represented. Vidyard offers a slick and simple tool where reps can record using a webcam, browser tab, or full screen. They can also add in-video calls-to-action to guide prospects book meetings right from the video.

Loom 🆓

I use Loom pretty much every week. It’s a great way to send presentations because you can record and share your full desktop screen and have a little window showing yourself talking.

Got people who want to talk to sales right now?

To be totally honest this isn’t going to be the simplest setup. You’ll probably need marketings help and it’s going to live on the website anyway so you’re going to need their permission more than likely.

Wow, it’s worth it though—the power to answer questions with site visitors really makes the website feel like a physical store. If you’ve always wanted live chat on your site, not being able to travel might be a good reason to put it up there.

Drift 🆓

Drift coined the term “conversational marketing” but the tool works well for sales reps. We use Drift on our site and have had most of our website conversions come in through the chatbot more than the website form.

Intercom

Intercom the number one rated live chat tool on G2 right now. If you’re running around the internet you’re more than likely to bump into Intercom a few times. Tools like Intercom have a great lead generation use case as well as customer support, getting started in sales could be a simple way to start a new channel for your business.

Bring all of these tools together

SalesReach

One of the most powerful ways we’ve seen reps use SalesReach has been through bundling all of these tools together and leveraging great content to deliver the best experience possible to their buyer. Easily schedule meetings, bundle content into a landing page, and use video to provide all the guidance your buyer needs to make sense of the purchase.

I will send a bottle of hand sanitizer to anyone who shares this post and tags SalesReach—ensuring no matter how you reach out to your prospects, you’re covered.

Josh Fedie
SalesReach hand sanitizer
A prototype of the limited edition SalesReach hand sanitizer

Corona Virus may have you grounded, but salespeople carry on

We recognize the very serious concerns and even tragedies related to the Corona Virus and have empathy and respect for those struggling with the challenges and pain it’s presented. Business can’t come to a grinding halt we have to carry on, that’s why we created this guide to help salespeople get through the difficulty.

The customer who called on the phone from earlier and lamented about canceled travel plans had a really good point.

If you think about it, this is a great opportunity for really good reps, or really motivated reps, to shine.

There’s a lot of uncertainty and chaos right now and it’s resulting in cancellations and disorientation. This is a time to step up and demonstrate empathy for customers who are experiencing the same thing. A lot of your customers were depending on conferences, travel, and in-person connections to grow their business, and now will likely take a hit.

The challenge here is really an opportunity to stand out as the guide-through-the-mess your buyer needs right now.

Reps who can recognize the adversity in front of them and flip it to return value to the customer during their time of stress will stand out with a memorable experience and win trust.

Does COVID-19 have you grounded? Get tips for a travel restricted salesforce from top companies

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