Leading Your Sales Team Through Times of Crisis.
This Global Covin 19 Pandemic has caused disruption unlike anything we have witnessed before. From a commerce perspective, spending will be significantly cut, economies will grind into recession, and selling, by and large, will be 10 times harder than it already was. It will take a special formula for you to have success leading your sales team through times of crisis like this.
We have been here before.
It is heartening to note that, though unrivaled in its scope, this is not the first time sales professionals will have to ride through significant contraction of the local and global economy. Like all other times before (2008-10, 9-11, 1992 etc), we will come through. It will end. This will pass.
The question is where will we be, how will we be positioned when this “ends”? What we do today, and how we respond throughout this period will determine how quickly and how well we bounce back. Ultimately victory will belong, as Darwin said, not to the strongest, nor to the smartest, but to the most adaptable.
The 5 Step Framework
Below we share a powerful 5 Part framework to help you succeed at leading your sales team through times of crisis. We also share 4 key sales strategies and 3 key tactics to have your team emerge better and stronger from Covid 19’s disruption.
STEP 1 – Bold Leadership
The pace of the team is determined by the pace of the leader. Leading your sales team through times of crisis, requires a positive, powerful and optimistic mindset. While it is natural to have concerns, Leaders must be calm. Do not bring fear, panic, or uncertainty to the space. Be straight about the facts. What’s so is What’s so. We can’t do anything about Covid 19 being here, but we can determine the outcome for ourselves and our companies, based on our responses. Focus on the opportunities. Most of all, passionately articulate your vision of success for the Sales Organization, and devise clear strategies and tactics to get there.
STEP 2 – Engage Everyone.
You must attend to the needs of your people if you expect them to attend to yours. Now more than ever you must pay attention and manage the mood of your sales team. Check in with each sales rep. Where is their mind at? What are their concerns professionally, financially and for their family? Connect with key and strategic customers, suppliers and partners. Learn what they need. Empathize while you encourage, empower and challenge them to come through this bigger and stronger. The stronger your customers and partners the easier it is leading your sales team through times of crisis.
STEP 3. Create Partnership to devise strong plans.
Tap into the expertise around you. Create the necessary alliances. From among the key stakeholders in your company, pull together a team to help you assess the environment, identify the gaps, devise the key strategies and build the plans to deliver the outcomes you envision. Because words and context matters, do not call or refer to this team as a crisis management team. Instead see and relate to them as an “Outcomes Task Force”. Their mandate is to focus on the desired outcomes, and to find the opportunities to be derived from the adversity at hand.
STEP 4. Close Gaps & Build Capacity
Grow, Adapt or Die. At the end is too late to start! Consumer and competitor behaviors and priorities have/will change. We are required to sell differently, use different channels, call on different skills. Our coaching, accountability, motivation, must improve. Can our current team, process, systems and leadership deliver the results we need now and in the new era? Successfully leading your sales team through time of crisis, requires you knowing the exact hand you are playing. A complete science-based evaluation on your entire sales organization (leadership, process, systems, people & strategies) is necessary. We recommend this tool by Objective Management Group for that purpose. Have this analysis inform your development agenda and start training immediately.
STEP 5. Focus, Execute & Communicate
The eyes of the master fattens the calf. Keep your eyes on the fundamentals. Make sure salespeople are handling the basics of prospecting, presenting and closing daily. Schedule and manage the projects and plans daily. Things are fluid and changes may come rapidly. So, check in daily check with your leaders, and your reps. Manage proactively, review the plan, and make necessary adjustments. Most of all you take charge of the narrative. Constantly talk about the vision and the opportunities and attending to their mindset.
Sales Strategies & Tactics for Leading Your Sales Team Through Times of Crisis
In addition to operating from this broader 5 Step framework, leading your sales team through times of crisis, requires the right sales strategies and tactics. Dave Kurlan and his team at Objective Management Group, in a recent webinar on this very topic, outlined 4 strategies and 3 tactics for Sales Leaders that we totally endorse. Below we share those strategies and tactics
4 Key Sales Strategies
1. Focus On Sales Process – Make sure your people are selling using the best sales process. Review the stages, steps, sequence and milestones that your sales team currently uses to sell your solution and make sure that they are aligned to produce consistent and reliable sales results. Everybody cannot have their own process. Identify document and implement the process by which everyone must sell.
2. Master Consultative Selling – Product pushing will not work in this environment. To connect powerfully and to differentiate yourself in the marketplace today, your team must understand and practice consultative selling. Consultative selling will allow your team to better connect, listen more deeply, demonstrate more care, exhibit more expertise, develop a higher level of trust and be seen by the prospect as their preferred partner.
3. Master The telephone and Video Conferencing – With stay-at-home orders, travel bands, social distancing, and people having to work from home, your team and you must begin love the phones and video conferencing as your premier sales channel. To remain in touch today in a way that is powerful and effective you must ensure that your team and you learns the best ways to engage on the phone and on the video conferencing platforms.
4. 10X your Efforts – However hard you worked prior to this crisis is grossly insufficient for you to keep up much less surpass your productivity of 2 weeks ago. Sing it from the roofs, make it known to everyone that to stand still in terms of revenues prior to this effort we need to work ten times harder, do ten times more, be ten time more creative and persistent. It is only by making up in volume what we can’t make up in an environment that we will have any chance of Maintaining or growing sales in the upcoming weeks and months.
3 Key Sales Tactics for Your Team
1. Design Positioning Statements tailored to this environment – Your sales team cannot connect in the same old way in this environment. The first 30 seconds of their sales call to prospects must lower the resistance of the prospect to hearing further from them. Given that nobody wants to buy anything right now they cannot sound like a salesperson.
2. Anticipate and prepare for the inevitable stalls and put-offs – You already know what your team will hear from the significant majority of the people they will call, some version of ‘now is not a good time, call back next year, spending is frozen’ etc. So don’t allow your people to go into battle knowing what is coming and yet being unprepared to respond. You must develop scripts to respond to these stalls and put offs.
3. Focus on Solving Problems. Don’t sell products or services. In this environment where people have so many concerns about their livelihood, their business, and their families, product pushing is just simply not going to cut it. Turn up for customers and prospects as problem solvers and not product pushers. Focus on adding value and being of service.
We are here to help.
As you lead your sales team through this time of crisis, we wish you success and health. Think Grow Lead remains open and available to supporting you and your team in any capacity we can. For further details or support in implementing this framework, or providing any training, coaching or development you need, please call our Salesforce Development Experts, Duane Lue Fung and Paul Bryan at 876-978-1364 or 876-978-4231