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How Sales & Selling will be Changed by 2020

    • 1369 posts
    October 12, 2020 9:22 PM PDT

    How Sales and Selling will be Changed by 2020

    by John Chapin

    2020 has not been a typical year by any stretch of the imagination. Almost everything we know has been changed or affected in some way, shape, or form. So what about selling? How has selling changed and what must we do to adapt to the new environment?

    Very rarely, if ever, does a disruptor change the core principles of the sales game. Most issues and changes, whether it’s the birth of the internet, social media and e-mail, 9/11, or the 2008 recession, have simply been distractions, causing us to make some small adjustments to our process, but they haven’t changed the foundational principles of sales.

    The events of 2020, led primarily by the pandemic, have been slightly different in that they have affected some important aspects of how many of us sell. For example, in most cases face-to-face sales calls had to be replaced by phone calls and other mediums of contact. This in turn caused changes in the number of contacts, messaging, use of technology, and the need to be more persistent. To expand on that a bit, here are some areas you should be working on so you’re prepared if you find yourself in lockdown again:

    Work on your phone sales skills. In-person calls are the most effective for selling, phone calls are number two so, you want to get great at selling over the phone. If you think you can’t sell over the phone, realize it is just like any other skill and it can be learned and developed. Remember though that 55% of communication is facial expressions, eye movements, and body language. You obviously miss that over the phone. There are also other subtleties such as the fact that your voice loses 25% volume over the phone. Methods, messaging, and logistics have to be adjusted when selling by phone but if you can’t be there in-person, the phone is the way to go. 

    Work on your communication skills. As stated above, it’s more difficult to communicate over the phone. The better your communication is in general, the more successful you’ll be. Also, most of us need to be better communicators anyway, even in person.

    Persist and persevere. Realize that while making face-to-face sales calls takes persistence and perseverance, calling on people via the phone, e-mail, and other mediums, takes more. It’s much easier to dismiss you when you’re not physically present plus forms of contact other than in-person tend to take more touches and more stick-to-itiveness.

    Learn technology and tweak your sales process a bit. Yes, the internet, social media, e-mail, and the pandemic may require us to get more tech savvy and understand things we didn’t need to worry about 30 years ago, but that doesn’t mean we need to completely change the way we do business. Of course, we now ask someone if they prefer an e-mail, text, phone call, or other, but that said, most of the old tried-and-true still apply. For example, the average C-level business executive in their 50’s does not want to get on a Skype or a Zoom call, they want a phone call if they can’t see you in-person. That said, you want to be familiar with technology just in case. You don’t want to be labeled a dinosaur.

    Stay positive. Part of your job is to be positive and optimistic. You don’t have to be Pollyanna, but you do want to look on the bright side of things. While prospects or clients may be negative, you don’t need to pile on, or start the negative ball rolling to begin with. There’s enough negativity in the world right now. You want to be a pleasure to do business with and you want people to view you as a positive person.

    All of the above said, while you’re adding to and tweaking skills needed for the present situation, you also want to make sure your basic sales foundation is in place. Here are some ways to do that:

    Focus on your activity and your numbers. I tell my insurance agents that they need 5 to 8 appointments every week if they’re going to hit their sales goals. I know if they get in front of that number of people, and follow my process: qualify them properly, identify and/or create big enough problems they can solve, come up with compelling solutions, present, close, and do every other part of the sales process correctly, then five to eight appointments will equal at a minimum one sale a week and usually more. If they have zero, one, or two appointments a week, they probably won’t hit their goals. Know all your numbers, track them, and do whatever you have to do to hit them daily and weekly.

    Work on your overall sales skills. You always want to be working on your sales skills. The stronger your sales skills, the more confident you will be and the more successful you’ll be with the people you talk to. 

    Remember that you’re still needed and you’re still the expert. People thought the internet would make salespeople obsolete. During the pandemic, some salespeople have questioned whether or not they are necessary. Regarding the internet and other advances in technology, while it’s true that people are generally better informed, and can and do look more information up, including on your product, they don’t live in your world seeing a plethora of scenarios and designing a ton of solutions every day. Regarding the pandemic, many people have questions and need help from experts. You are still the expert and experts will always be needed whether it’s doctors, lawyers, CPAs or yes, even salespeople. In insurance for example, the industry-specific wording on a policy looks like Swahili to the average person. They don’t know half the terms on their policy and they aren’t looking to learn. They want to rely on an expert to guide them.

    If I were going to design the perfect salesperson who is ready for anything, I’d start with someone with people skills who truly cares about other people, who is hungry, who persists and perseveres, with a blue-collar mentality, a thick skin, who isn’t afraid to show up early, leave late, and pound the pavement making more calls than anyone else. Combine that with someone who studies their craft and knows their product, practices, drills, and rehearses their presentation, answers to objections, closes, and anything and everything they’re likely to run into during the day. Finally, add knowledge of social media and technology, using it in a supporting role, and not as the foundation for their sales efforts which should be in-person and phone calls. If you want to be best prepared for anything, use that as a roadmap.


    John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker, coach, and trainer. For his free eBook: 30 Ideas to Double Sales and monthly article, or to have him speak at your next event, go to: ; John has over 33 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards). You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail:

    This post was edited by Rebecca Hunt at October 12, 2020 9:23 PM PDT