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What your sales team needs from you now

Updated Jul 14, 2020
sales team collaborating on deal

Likely, everyone on your team is facing new challenges and they need your support. Invest time in the areas where you’re needed most. Your team will appreciate it, and you’ll benefit from it, too. When we all do better, we all do better.

Sales is a challenging job, and with the current state of the world, many salespeople are facing new challenges they haven't encountered before.

Undoubtedly, you’ve experienced some sort of disruption with your routine since the pandemic first started. Maybe you’re at home with family, so finding a quiet place for a call is difficult. Or, perhaps, you’re a parent and have had to take on the role of part-time teacher. It’s harder to be productive when you’re learning a whole new way of working.

On top of it, as you talk to your prospects, you’re getting a feel for which industries are heavily affected and which ones are doing okay. Perhaps some are even growing. But it all affects your team’s ability to hit goals. Everyone is doing their best to make quota, but only so much is in their control, and a lot of things are up in the air.

Inevitably, many of us are struggling right now — because of what’s happening in the world and the economy, how it’s affecting our work and our performance, and everything we’re juggling at home.

At a time like this, especially if you’re a manager, you might be wondering what you can do to support your team. We recently talked to a few folks in sales — here’s what we heard about what you can do to help.

Invest in wellness

We’re in the midst of a crisis — if ever there was a time to be proactive about your team’s wellness, it’s now.

Brian Nelson from General Assembly learned this from his team and coach: “I focus on controlling what I can control... Being disciplined with work practices of beginning and ending your day. Making a healthy lunch. Working out. All those things are important and bring a more focused mindset and not just a sluggish zombie mindset to my computer.”

Encourage people to take leave. This pandemic means that many people have canceled holidays and have not re-booked them. However, in a period of high stress, it has never been more important to have a few days off to allow your team to come back and perform at their best.

Don’t just mention it once and leave it at that. Make sure work-life balance is a common talking point, so your team knows you mean it. Demonstrate that you’re serious by taking time off yourself.

Depending on the resources you have available, consider inviting a wellness professional to provide a virtual workshop for your team so they can learn new ways to cope during this time. Having those tools will pay dividends for everyone now and over the long term.

Questions to ask your team: What resources do you need to do your best work right now? How are you feeling? What can I do to help?

Continue to coach

For a lot of us, a conservative estimate is 16 million, being a remote worker is new territory. It’s natural that there will be an adjustment period, and it also means you may need to provide more support to help people make the transition.

Sit in on sales calls. Not only will it help you observe your team’s adjusted approach and monitor their moods, but you can be there for an assist if there’s any difficulty like a bad internet connection or some other unexpected issue.

Schedule team ride-alongs and if possible, make it mandatory. Ride-alongs are a great way for the team to stay connected. Create the context of why this is helpful. The purpose is not to police each other, but for everyone to learn from each other.

Celebrate weekly wins. Encourage weekly shout-outs. Acknowledge your team for the little things they do well. What it really comes down to is maintaining a connection with your team on an individual level and showing you’re invested in their success.

Questions to ask your team: What are you struggling with the most in the new remote environment? What tools could improve your workflow?

Overcommunicate trust and confidence

The best sales folks don’t need to have urgency driven into their consciousness. If the month or quarter is progressing and they see themselves behind quota, chances are they are already feeling that urgency way before you communicate it.

Therefore, this is a time to re-emphasize trust to your team. Tell them you have their back. It does not hurt to acknowledge on a regular basis that we are in a crisis. The times are not normal and we are all in a constant state of adjustment right now. Acknowledge that reality in a regular cadence and then follow up by expressing that you hired them for a reason; they are capable of navigating this terrain.

After providing assurance, your main goal needs to be support. Whether it’s joining a call to help close a deal, or doing an impromptu 1:1 to chat about how they’re doing. Make yourself as accessible to your team as possible so they know you mean what you say.

Questions to ask your team: Do you have the support you need to work your best? Do you need more regular meetings with me or anyone else? How can I provide further assurance?

Revisit Goals

Deciding when, and how, to reduce your revenue goals is a difficult decision. Not every business has seen a decrease in sales. In fact, some in certain industries are even growing. But many have been hit hard and are seeing fewer leads and even fewer closed.

In that case, adjusting quotas might be necessary. A few teams we talked to have already cut their quota goals by 25%. For some other teams, it was even more.

Take a look at the goals you may have set before all of this began. Be realistic about what your team can achieve under the current circumstances, and make changes accordingly. Goals that are impossible to reach will serve to demotivate your team. Something truly achievable keeps everyone inspired and working to reach it.

Questions to ask your team: Do you feel like our current goals are achievable? If not, could you let me know why? What can I do to help facilitate you hitting your goals?

Take inventory of current workflows

Though slower times may seem like a bad thing, they’re also an opportunity. For example, maybe your CRM pipeline management needs tweaking, or you want to start doing ride-alongs, where team members observe one another’s calls, demos, or meetings.

For Bailey Stump’s team at 12Twenty, they decided the best approach is being able to pivot quickly: “The fact is, we don’t KNOW what works in this new era, so the goal is to try everything and evaluate quickly if it’s working or not. If it is, double or triple down. If it isn’t, pivot again.”

Right now, you may have expanded capacity to be more innovative — take advantage of it. Not only can you potentially increase efficiency, it could be a welcome change of pace for your team. Research shows that side projects can actually improve overall productivity.

Consider assigning one workflow to each team member and have them come up with three tweaks they’d make to improve that workflow. Not all of the suggestions may be feasible, but it’ll spark conversation and inject some much needed excitement into your team.

Questions to ask your team: What processes are working really well? Which ones could be improved? How do you suggest improving that process?

Final thoughts

The world is weird right now, and we’re all adjusting. Everyone on your team is likely facing some new challenges, and they need your support. If you’re looking to help, invest some time in these areas where you’re needed most. Your team will appreciate it, and you’ll benefit from it, too. When we all do better, we all do better.