I can’t think of another time in my life that we’ve experienced a pandemic as far-reaching as COVID-19, the coronavirus.
As a husband, father, brother, friend and CEO, I care GREATLY about the people who are currently, or in the future, at risk of infection.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus has a global impact on our families and local community. Clearly, the highest priority is the health and safety of our loved ones and that includes those with whom we work.
As a sales leader, you have the added burden of leading your team through a challenging time. Your sellers are dealing with the very same circumstances. They’re challenged with achieving their quota in the face of an economic slowdown while balancing the stress of the pandemic’s impact on daily life. Some may even be faced with the emotion of caring for loved ones who are or may become infected.
How you lead your team on both levels will leave a long-lasting mark on their humanity.
I served in sales leadership for more than nine years before founding Vengreso. Allow me to offer my thoughts on how to lead your team during this time.
Three Pillars of Sales Leadership During a Crisis
This is no time to focus all your energy on the numbers. By demonstrating your compassion for every member of your team, their loyalty to you and your company will strengthen, impacting your long-term revenue goals.
It is harder to sell now than it was just one week ago. Your prospects and customers are in the same situation. Meet with your sellers daily to reassure them of your support and care for their well-being. Implore them to demonstrate the same compassion to each person they speak with. Offer them an opening statement for each sales conversation that addresses the human element of the conversation.
Seller: “Hi, Susan. I’m grateful for a few minutes of your time today. May I begin by saying that I hope our conversation will help you smile, no matter the business outcome?”
Susan: “Thanks, Brian. What did you have in mind to make me smile?”
Seller: “Would you like to see a picture of my Golden Retriever trying to carry a three-foot stick through a two-foot gate?” (chuckle)
This is just one (silly) idea that illustrates the point of arming your sellers with a human message at the opening of a sales conversation. You could collaborate with Marketing to write a dozen light-hearted openings that fit the culture of your company and your industry. Of course, discretion is needed in each sales conversation.
2. Lead by Example
This is a good time to roll up your shirt sleeves and do anything you’re asking your sellers to do. If that means following up on leads, do it. If that means sending personalized email messages or personalized videos to customers and prospects, do it.
You know the importance of loyalty among your sales team. When they see that you’re in the trenches with them, they’ll work hard to please you because you are leading by example.
3. No One Left Behind
During a crisis, everyone matters. While this is always true, it’s amplified during a challenging time. The reality is that some people will fall behind for any number of reasons. One such reason is the emotional toll of the situation on some individuals. Some will experience family members infected by the coronavirus. Some will feel the added stress of both parents working from home with kids running around in a small apartment.
Every one of your sellers will have unique circumstances and this is a time to care for each and every one of them. I am certain that we will get through this. How you treat every member of your team during this time will have a lasting impact on how your team views you as a leader.
Taking Care of Yourself
You should ask your sellers to take care of themselves and their loved ones. You must do the same. Talk about it openly. Discuss how you’re handling the situation to inspire each of your sellers to do the right thing for their own well-being and for their loved ones.
Sales leadership in a time of crisis is not for the faint of heart. If it was, anyone could do it. You stepped into the leadership role because you have compassion for people. Now is the time for your compassion to shine.
You’re probably feeling stressed as you consider the weight on your shoulders in your role as the sales leader as well as your role at home with your family. Minimize your stress through healthy habits including getting enough sleep, making time for exercise and a healthy diet. Above all, maintain a positive mindset that shines through on everyone you encounter.
I wish you my sincere best wishes for your family, your employees, your customers, your partners and your sellers to experience the best possible outcome during this time, and that includes the best possible economic outcome too.
All my best,
Mario Martinez Jr.
Founder, CEO Vengreso