A few of my thoughts on being a sales leader during this period of disruption:
If you’re over the age of 30, you have lived through 9/11, the financial crisis, Ebola, SARS, MERS, the “great recession” and many other events. During each and every one of those catastrophes, everything around us felt earth shattering and life-changing; yet amazingly, each ended when nobody expected them to. In addition, through each one of those difficult seasons, we all learned a tremendous amount that has helped us moving forward. The hardship we’re currently experiencing is no different; this too shall pass. Yes, we do and will continue to have to make some difficult decisions; however, with each one, we must put into perspective what the long-term implications will be.
The one item we have all been called to do is to remain calm and confident – we will get through this. Yes, we are navigating uncharted waters but just like the captain of a boat encountering a major storm; although, the storm might be new, the skills to navigate the storm are not. We are the “captains” with the understanding to guide our “ships” to either the safe harbor or out to open calm waters.
1. Often, the greatest sales opportunities arise when customers are in need the most. Do not think for a moment your market is gone. It may have shifted, but it is still there, and when viewed properly, you’ll find bigger opportunities.
2. Be there for customers / clients to help them with their business. I’m telling all salespeople to stay in contact with their customers even more than ever right now, and not to commiserate but to proactively help them problem solve and help identify solutions, answers. Customers reward those vendors who stick with them in tough times.
3. With existing customers, take nothing for granted. Collaborate with them and look downstream at who their customers are. Help identify ways that you can assist them; be prepared for potential shocks.
4. Make it as simple as possible for customers to do business with you. Don’t try and sell everything. Just get the customer going with one thing, and build from there. There is still a lot of business out there; we just have to be creative and patient.
5. Be incredibly sensitive to others. We must listen better than we’ve ever listened before. If there’s ever a time for salespeople and customer service people to listen, it is now. Over the last week, I’ve heard about some amazing conversations amongst salespeople. These discussions are creating massive loyalty, and it is simply the right thing to do.
6. Don’t allow others to see you as being concerned. People take their cues from those around them, especially their leaders. Just like looking at news sites, social media, online can quickly change how we feel, so can someone’s actions.
7. Be the positive voice in our generally negative world right now. For every door that closes, there is another one that opens. Unless we have the right mindset, we will never see the open door.
8. Sales is the most critical department in these periods, and it’s important for customers to know that. Without sales, any business will soon fade away. Keep feeding your sales team and the customer’s sales teams with ideas, strategies, and most of all, confidence.
9. Help those around us see the full picture that this too shall pass. History has shown with every other pandemic, they have a lifespan and within months, it is gone. Keep an eye on the 3rd quarter. Don’t overthink today. Make decisions accordingly.
10. The employees who are now being asked to work from home are not going to feel comfortable. The key here is over communicating and accepting their workspace for what it is. Don’t pass judgement. Do try to have one phone call per day, minimum, with everyone. Ideally, this should be a video call.
11. Respect the variety of other people your employees and customers are now dealing with when working from home. The child crying in the background is not an issue. The dog that needs to be walked is OK. Let’s be real, this is a whole new world for nearly everyone working from home.
12. Employees and others can become concerned with outside issues, so make time for them; however, stay firm in reminding them that they still have a job to do. Keeping employees focused on long-term projects will have a calming effect on everyone.
13. Demonstrate flexibility with everyone; schedules are changing for everyone. Allow yourself the freedom in your day to accept changes to meetings, calls, etc.. essentially everything.
14. Don’t panic. As quickly as we got into this situation, things can turn. It can be easy to let people go, but in this market, we don’t know what the labor supply will be on the other end. Holding onto employees creates dedicate which in turn, will increase efficiency, etc.
15. We are currently dealing with two issues: health and economic. Yes, both are intertwined, but one will not physically harm anyone. Most importantly, we need to help others put things…life into perspective and support one another. Together, we will get though this.
Be the leader that your customers, your peers, your co-workers, your friends, and your family are counting on you to be.
Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.