COVID & Sales Team Performance – What Have We Learned?
We’ve never experienced business challenges like those presented by the pandemic, and hopefully we won’t see anything like it again – for our kids and grandkids too.
There’s no doubt that many businesses in vulnerable industries have failed, but those that have prevailed (and even thrived) emerge from the pandemic with some very valuable (forced) learnings.
Australian business has shown it is agile, adaptable, and innovative.
What’s changed in the last few years, and what have we learned (or confirmed) because of it?
It’s simple to say, but in a work from home environment, trust is everything. If you don’t trust your Sales Team people, don’t employ them. It’s that simple. If you can’t trust them when they’re working from home, what are they saying and doing in the field with your customers and clients?
If you don’t trust your Sales Team, change the situation immediately.
Many of the clients we work had their sales staff exhibit signs of burnout through COVID. That’s because chances are, if you trust your Sales Team (see point 1), they trust you and your managers. They want to do the right thing by you – so they skip lunch, do back-to-back Teams meetings, they keep their laptops open and on at the dining room table until they go to bed. This isn’t good for you or your business and is contributing to what the call ‘The Great Resignation’.
Enforce breaks when team members work from home – they will be stronger, smarter and more productive because of it.
Remember, your staff are working from premises that the business is typically not paying for (their house). The business (and consequently their job) is surviving because of this. Air conditioning, water, coffee, toiletries – all costs covered by the employee when working from home. Sure, they might wear a business shirt with boardshorts for video conferences, and so they should – it’s their house and it makes no difference to the outcomes if managed properly.
The novelty of working from home wears off within days for your staff (or hours if there are kids at home). If you trust your Team (see point 1), know that for the most part, this is not their ideal working situation – with an exception, point 4.
The business and everyone’s jobs have been able to carry on because of work from home flexibility. This means that the work from home model has been proven (by force). Your team members know this and have learned that there are productivity and flexibility benefits to not needing to be seen in an office.
As long as you have day-to-day transparency through a CRM or other means, the flexibility can work to your advantage.
- No lost time in peak hour traffic
- Immediate online presence from 7-8am in the morning
- The reality and perception that the day is under the salesperson’s control – in the right circumstance this improves productivity and engagement.
- Reduced need for an office footprint
- A lift in customer-facing time
- An appreciative, more productive sales person thanks to the flexibility (with the right controls).
Take faith from the fact that the business has functioned through the pandemic and trust your Sales Team (point 1).
Shutdowns. No-visitor policies. Mandated close contact isolations. Infected key contacts.
This has changed the way you can interact with your customers. People are now used to videoconferencing, and if you play it right, it means you can reach more customers more efficiently and, in some cases, more effectively.
Respect that as we emerge from the pandemic, its going to get harder to see your customers face to face before it gets easier. Your sales team must respect this and you must work it to your advantage.
- Schedule 15 minute video calls – short and focussed.
- Preplan for every video conference – you’ve only got a limited time, make sure you know what’s in it for the customer and what’s in it for you and your Sales Team member.
- Know what you want from the call before even thinking about scheduling it. Don’t waste the customer’s time by winging it.
- Use Outlook to schedule the appointment and embed the videoconference link in the calendar event. This way your customer won’t miss the appointment and your team will know that the rep can’t be contacted during this time.
- ALWAYS use the camera on a video call – this ensures the focus from both parties.
This one goes for both in and outside the pandemic.
Lock down customer portfolios. Set realistic (but stretched) targets. Provide the reporting and the metrics for your sales team to know their own performance position (weekly as a minimum, daily if possible). Provide clarity on stock availability if relevant and make sure your team is trained fully on your CRM if you’re operating one.
Create an open and honest performance measurement system – if your team members know they are not meeting targets this should not be a surprise and should open a constructive dialogue as to what can be done to correct the performance issues.
Refer to Point 1. If you don’t trust your Team, ignore Points 2-6 and make changes to your Team – otherwise you’re wasting your time with everything else.
Who We Are
Structured Sales Consulting provides practical, proven concepts and strategies for sales teams to build quality revenue in competitive markets (even in pandemic settings).
We work alongside and within your sales team (both in the boardroom and in the field) to develop custom-built strategies and embed day-to-day behaviours that set your team on the right direction for sustained revenue growth in competitive markets.