Team management during a crisis: Guide your sales team to execute planned results

team management

Since the global pandemic has been declared by the World Health Organization, businesses around the world have experienced dramatical change. 

The business community has been facing challenges in joining the global efforts to stop the virus. Large corporations also asked their employees to work from home in order to reduce the spread of the virus. Among the many were Airbnb, Google, Twitter. Annual events have been canceled, business strategies have shifted and sales strategies were inevitably pushed into change.

Hirings freezed due to travel restrictions and the evolution of the markets created new challenges for brands all over the world. Yet, our need to access regular sales remains the same. 

All this brings the question on the table about how to guide your sales team towards measurable results in a sales environment unlike all that is known so far? This is a big question for many leaders and businesses today. We have put a short guide for you about how to approach team management during a crisis and keep your company growing and your team positive and productive.

Make a plan. It all starts with the plan of strategic selling in a crisis

Planning is maybe the most important part of a successful sales strategy. One of the many challenges business leaders will face is the question of managing the remote sales team. Is it harder or easier to manage people remotely? How different is remote management compared to in-office management of the team?

Keeping everyone on the same page might appear a harder task than what you imagined at first. You need a campaign in place that allows you to keep your team members motivated during the crisis. New tools for work optimization, time tracking and team management is crucial for keeping everyone cohesive during executing the work tasks.

So who will thrive in this crisis? Early adopters. By researching new ways, exploring opportunities and innovating ways to keep teams motivated through training.

These are the questions you should give some time to resolve:

  • Is the size of your team aligned with the demanded service to clients? It might look tempting to you to reduce the number of people on your team during a time difficult like this one, but it may cost you your reputation and it might cost you quality reduction. So, think again, how big your sales team needs to be to continue delivering the same quality of service?
  • Communication strategies. You must come up with a good communication strategy to keep your team engaged and informed trough video conferencing and live chat. Without the face- to -face communication, this alternatives must grow in use to mantaint the indeed quality of communication.
  • Resources.Your team needs resources to deliver proper execution of the work tasks. Beyond CRM systems for customer management, think about what other tools are necessary? Do you need to find new ways to track all the details that you tracked back in the days when you were working in the office? What can you put online?
  • Support. Your team also needs support in this time of crisis. How can you support your team members? As a start, you can offer them the right training. But they also need reassurance, regular updates and continuous education and being informed. It is up to you to lead them and provide them both the physical and psychological backing up while working from home.

As you already have figured out, there is more than just sending your employees to work from home and providing them a lap top. All the other aspects of building a sales team are still needed in the new environment and giving your employees a clear picture of how work can be done is very important.

Adapting the team management strategies to the situation

If you have a sales team working from home, it is highly probable that they will lose some focus, direction and motivation in the new surroundings. Those management strategies you used in the past might show ineffective now.

To most, micromanaging is the first solution that comes to mind. The backside of this is that you might push over the border of managing and go into suffocation of the creativity and innovation of your employees. 

  • Clearer guidance and direction is expected from you to provide, but you still need to leave some space for them to make their own decisions. For example, providing guidelines on how many leads need to be collected daily, and making sure that your employees also have access to the tools and training they need to achieve their goals.
  • Having all the surrounding in mind, it`s important to allow your employees to:
  • Explore different strategies
  • Adjust their working hours according to their needs
  • Switch from sales mode to assistance mode, to help them nurture their existing clients

And, also give attention to create a system to gather information from your sales team. During this challenging time, it`s time to use agents as the front line for your company, collecting information from your sales team about what your customers need, which kind of sales strategies work best and all other relevant information to make timely corrections in your overall strategy. 

Social listening is something you should enforce nowadays and monitor customer discussions. This will give you the needed information to input in updates of your strategy. Ask about the responses, monitor the calls, emails and the service chats and follow the sentiment and the concerns of customers. Your customers are also adapting to the change and you should be all ears about their needs.

Brand awareness is more important nowadays

Your customers are now stuck home and spending much more time online. Telecommunication operators have already made public knowledge that traffic has increased for more than 20%. Having this in mind, you should focus extra time and resources on social prospecting and lead generation. Now is the time to stockpile leads. This is true for everyone, even if you are not in an industry that has been heavily changed by COVID-19. 

One of the best ways to build brand awareness is to give focus on more frequent communications. Adjust to address the needs that your customers are facing in your sales pitch. Look into what is troubling them. Are they worried about accessing your services in this time? Are they unsure about you ability to maintain your supply chain. Are they worried about the safety and origin of your products? Are they concerned that you may run out of stock? 

Give attention to to the concerns and worries of your audience and develop a brand message that will put those worries to rest. Explore new ways of communication. Reach out to new prospects. Email them. Give them content that is wanted at this time. 

Other researchers shared their findings that using LinkedIn and social media to find B2B stakeholders is a lot simpler in this time of crisis compared to phone calls or email.

Protect your clients and take care of your team

Besides giving attention to emerging questions and needs to adapt your sales pitch to suit the crisis, you will probably need to rethink ways to protect your existing customers and your sales team in this unusual situation. 

Some companies even go so far to develop whole systems to serve the need to continue the virtual and effective team-building activities and improve staff engagement without in-person training. 

In a crisis situation facing lockdown, you clients still need the support. SInce you won’t be able to provide face to face support, you must find ways in the digital landscape.

These questions might show to be crucial now and after the COVID-19 crisis. Sharing the thoughts and strategies with your employees will help you to maintain a positive attitude while the crisis lasts. Encouraging your employees to maintain their work life balance and managing their emotions from home will ensure survival of your team and lead you to happier, more productive and more creative team members.

The can-do attitude is important for your team. Radiate positive mindset. The more you support your team it will be easier to adapt to suit the changing needs of the market.

Prepare for the days after the crisis

Although at moments it might seem that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, there will be an ending to this crisis. Make sure you are prepared for it. Even though you probably have been too busy resolving the daily emerging changes and focusing on sales and protecting the flow of work, you should give some thoughts on how you will reset when the crisis is over. Set that vision and go through the indeed steps to come out in better position than the one you were when it started.

The Covid-19 crisis has forced many companies to reduce their costs, rethink the way they use their cash reserves and generally review budgeting. Your customers are likely to have less money to spend for a while and have new priorities compared to just a few months ago.

  • Use the resources you have and work with your team. Collect the ideas from your team members about how to thrive when the crisis is over. 
  • Is it possible to continue the work-from-home mode and reduce monthly costs?Remote workers require fewer resources and fewer overheads than office-based employees.
  • Will you reorganize your offers? Will you create new sales models for your clients? Will you go into segmentation or will you go into merging? Will you some out with new services?
  • Could you change the payment model? Are there ways to ease your clients the payment process?

When the crisis is over, make sure to revisit your clients and resume the conection with them. Ask and check about what their current needs are to again adapt to the after-crisis environment. Re-evaluate your pipeline. Prepare to be agile in the reposnd to the markets needs again. Do research all over again, cause it is all new again. 

Crisis is the time of leaders. This includes sales leaders too. They have an important role to play in their companies and assure continued growth. They are the role models, those who energize their teams, take proactive care for the existing customers and unlock new scales in sales. Doing all this will help your business to come out of the global COVID-19 crisis stronger and much more innovative and creative then before.