As the ongoing pandemic increases uncertainty around the future of work culture, employers and employees alike have become increasingly cautious about navigating the complex process of working from home.
One of the most essential departments of any company, the sales team is the backbone that enables the meeting of company goals by managing the sale of products, services, and subscriptions. A successful sales team also builds strong relationships with customers, thereby increasing customer engagement and retention.
However, a crisis as deleterious as a global pandemic can wreak havoc on management, coordination, operations, and productivity. If you’ve been struggling to effectively manage your sales team as the nationwide lockdown continues, ISC’s team of Sales Recruiters have rounded up some tips to help you enhance efficiency in a crisis-sensitive and responsible way.
1. Acknowledge, Empathize, and Support
Understanding the sensitivity of the situation is the key to ensuring your sales team feels supported and motivated through these challenging times.
Acknowledge their collective concerns and empathize with each issue they bring up. Your support will go a long way in letting the team know that their concerns are being heard and that they are being taken into consideration.
Whether you send an email or ideally take the time to make a conference call, your validation will help team members retain motivation and feel encouraged to uphold performance.
2. Encourage Your Sales Team to Focus on Customer Sentiments
Instead of solely focusing on sales metrics, we recommend changing your sales outlook in accordance with the global pandemic.
Getting calls from vendors that do not even acknowledge the current crisis feels very tone- deaf, and is not conducive to a positive call. Coach your team to begin any dialog by acknowledging the situation, engaging the prospect in open ended questions regarding their health and safety, and only then breach the topic of your product or service, if it feels appropriate.
Encourage your sales team to focus on customer sentiments, thereby establishing a strong human connection that goes beyond a superficial buyer-seller relationship. Instead of prioritizing sales, prioritize support and empathy.
Keep in mind that not every call or outreach needs to be monetized.
For example, our team of sales recruiters have decided to take advantage of this unique opportunity, when it is slower than normal to strategically reach out to companies that we have wanted to work with to forge a connection. We are hopeful that by doing so, we will earn the opportunity to build on that relationship later when the time is right. By letting prospective clients know that you are in this for the long haul, and that you see value in investing in a call or email to them even though it will likely not result in immediate results, goes a long ways in building working relationships.
3. Track Team Activity and Continue Personalized Coaching
Track metrics and individual performance to ensure you’re providing personalized coaching along the way. As the pandemic continues, many sales managers and executives have reduced the extent of the personalized coaching they give out. However, this can be extremely damaging to overall sales performance. The fact is, you want to do more than ever before, to encourage solidarity as a team.
It appears that the current crisis is not going to be quickly resolved, and having teams working virtually is going to be increasingly common. The sooner companies embrace virtual meetings, the better. If you have not already dived into Zoom or Skype calls with your team, now is the time! You may be surprised at how effective they can be, and how virtual meetings can truly build camaraderie amongst your team. There is very little that you cannot accomplish in a virtual meting that was once done in live sessions. Virtual meetings can go a long way in helping your team track their performance and develop an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. This is especially important given the ongoing lockdown as it’ll help refine messaging to customers, consistency, and productivity.
Add to that the very real feelings of isolation many people are enduring these days, reaching out as a manager to connect via video to offer individual coaching may very likely make the difference in a teammate’s day. We are all human beings and showing compassion and investing the time to support someone during these stressful times will never be forgotten.
4. Take Employee Feedback Seriously
One of the most effective ways to ensure strong sales team management is taking employee feedback seriously.
Whether your sales team is concerned about the workload, hours, technical issues, or management gaps, take their feedback into account and work on it to strengthen team management.
A good method to ensure that your team feels that their concerns are heard, is to actively listen without interrupting, and then repeat back to them what you believe their primary concerns are, to verify that you have heard them correctly. Feeling that their worries are acknowledged and validated is critically important, especially during these turbulent times.
Establishing a strong virtual feedback culture will also enhance performance. Chances are social distancing will be in effect for quite a while, so embracing a strong virtual culture will go a long ways towards maintaining a feeling of camaraderie within your team. Take professional feedback and personal issues into consideration to ensure empathetic and effective amelioration.
5. Conduct Weekly Virtual Team Meetings
Hold weekly virtual meetings with your sales team to discuss performance, changing strategies, and updates. We recommend using a stable and smooth video conferencing software/application like Zoom, Skype for Business, Google Hangouts, and Google Meet.
Be cognizant that your metrics are undoubtedly going to be changing during the current economic environment, and adjust accordingly. Clearly the number of live presentations will change, but the number of live video calls may increase. Also be sure to reward simply reaching out to touch base. People will remember those vendors that took the time to reach out simply to connect, with no immediate expectations of a sale. With that said, invest the time and energy in coming up with new metrics to reflect the challenges that your particular team is facing.
Discuss fundamental key performance indicators—including monthly sales growth, sales target, quote to close ratio, client acquisition rates, employee satisfaction, and competitor prices. In addition, be sure to share positive feedback generously to help your team feel encouraged.
These collective strategies will keep your team motivated while helping them retain a strong focus on maintaining performance.
As one of the leading executive sales recruiters in the U.S., International Search Consultants has been providing our clients top performing sales pros since 1999. We offer expert hiring services to ensure your team is equipped with highly-skilled and motivated employees. By strategically targeting the top candidates in the industry, often top performers from your direct competitors, ISC’s team of sales recruiters will find the perfect fit for your company.