The COVID-19 epidemic has had a major impact on how we work. Organizations are rapidly adopting remote working strategies. What impact has this had on employee morale and productivity? How can you respond to this health issue as a leader and keep your sales team motivated during COVID-19?
Your team requires leadership and good communication now more than ever. On a personal and professional level, reps are looking for confidence and support.
In this RisePath blog, we’ll show you how to guide your team through times of uncertainty by providing advice and policies that spell out clear expectations.
Taking care of the well-being of your employees
Even the most seasoned salespeople may struggle during a health crisis. If the COVID-19 outbreak taught us anything, it’s how rapidly things can change.
You must also look after the health of your sales reps as you adjust to new ways of working and continue to generate income. This entails assisting them in taking care of themselves physically and mentally, as well as urging them to adhere to government rules regarding social distancing, hand washing, and sanitation standards.
Your main focus should be reassuring your teams with empathetic, straightforward messaging. Early on, communicate how your organisation is handling the situation and offer regular updates. Keep your team updated on any policy changes or action plans so that everyone is on the same page.
Employees are concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in numerous layoffs across several businesses. It’s your obligation as a sales manager to face these fears square on. Utilize a bottom-up management strategy. Inform the boardroom of your concerns and request details on how the changes will affect the entire enterprise. As a result, you’ll be able to speak with your reps honestly and freely as you manage a crisis.
Your company should offer advice on how to keep your employees happy. Here are a few strategies to stay on top of your reps and be proactive:
- Hold regular huddles: Salespeople are naturally gregarious beings. Use video conferencing to substitute face-to-face huddles and team meetings when working remotely.
- Check-in with one-on-one meetings: Everyone reacts differently to a crisis. Some people, for example, cope well with social distance, while others struggle with a lack of human connection. Make it clear that you’re available for help if reps need it, and follow up with them during one-on-one calls.
- Social events: If going out for drinks after work isn’t an option, arrange a “virtual happy hour” via video conferencing. Allow your staff to decompress at the end of the week by using this time for a social conversation.
- Flexible working hours: Getting used to this new method of working may take some time. Allowing your employees to work flexible hours will allow them to deal with other life changes that may arise. When schools close due to a health crisis, for example, flexible working will allow salespeople to balance employment and childminding.
Provide resources that empower employees to help themselves in addition to these proactive measures. These resources could include the following:
- Physical fitness advice: Many fitness routines entail going to the gym or leaving the house. In quarantine, looking after our physical health can quickly become a low priority. Provide information and resources on how reps may take care of their physical health at home. This may include things like YouTube links to free workouts and yoga courses, as well as a wellness stipend for online lessons.
- Remote working environments: Provide knowledge and tools on how to set up a productive work environment at home. This includes advice on what equipment to use and where in the house to create this environment.
- Work-life balance: Those who are new to working from home may find it difficult to draw lines between their professional and personal lives. Provide advice on the best way to go about it. New morning and evening routines, for example, can give the distance that a daily commute generally provides. A “virtual coffee break” one morning a week, in addition to a “virtual happy hour,” might assist reps to break up their day.
During a health crisis, it’s vital to look after your employees’ mental health. As a leader, this should be your top priority. As people acclimate to remote working, provide direction and support, be compassionate, and provide resources to help them create and maintain a healthy mentality.
Create a policy allowing employees to work from home.
People who are obliged to work from home may be unsure of what this entails. A clear work from home policy outlines what is expected of them while working from home.
Work from home policies should be implemented across the board. While some processes will only apply to salesmen, a company-wide work-from-home policy should include the following:
- Who qualifies: Remote working isn’t always acceptable for everyone during normal times. However, if workers are urged (or compelled) to stay at home during a crisis, you’ll need to devise a solution for everyone to work from home.
- Gear and equipment: Make sure everyone has the necessary gear and equipment to fulfil their tasks. Identify people who can work from home and purchase equipment for those who require it.
- Performance and KPIs: It’s critical that you put your faith in your salespeople to get the job done. All that matters is that they are creating outputs, whether through sales activity or results. Make sure you have the tools necessary to compare them to the KPIs you would normally use.
- Security: Ensure that confidential information is safeguarded. Make it clear how information should be shared around the company and which tools may and cannot be used.
- Team wellness: Provide advice on how reps can create new routines, maintain physical fitness, and look after their mental health, as previously discussed. Collect resources and provide assistance to your troops when they need it most.
This information should be included in your policy paper. This should serve as a single source of truth for employees who are transitioning to remote work. Include a FAQ section and keep it up to date as new queries arise.
Also included should be a well-defined technology stack. Be completely explicit about which tools are allowed and when they should be used as you develop your policy. Teams around the company must use the same tools for the same objective.
The language in your policy should be definitive and crystal clear, regardless of how you organise it. Ascertain that everyone understands what is required of them, as well as the tools and resources that will assist them in completing the task.
Adopt an inside-sales strategy.
If you rely on face-to-face encounters, the transition to remote working can be even more difficult. Many sales firms have been obliged to quickly adopt an inside sales technique as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Inside sales is a technique for managing sales activity from a distance. To create and maintain relationships with their leads, reps employ phone calls, email, and video conferencing. It’s especially common among businesses that sell expensive or complicated goods and services.
The most significant distinction between inside and outside sales is how representatives communicate with their prospects. As a result, you must be clear about your processes and which tools you utilise for specific tasks.
Take the time to sketch out your current processes and then tweak them to fit an inside sales strategy. How can you adapt to a consultative selling technique to a Zoom call if you employ it in face-to-face situations?
Use the same decks you’d use in person for sales pitches. Simply use screen sharing capabilities (such as those found in video conferencing software) and go over the pitch as usual.
Finally, test these new procedures as soon as possible and develop training for each stage. Use video conferencing to hold remote seminars and screen recording to show salespeople how these new processes work in the field.
How to assist salespeople who are through a health crisis
You may find that several of your representatives require time off at the same time, depending on how quickly you respond to a health problem. This could be due to illness or a loss.
If numerous reps require time off at the same time, the best thing to do is prioritise. This is how:
- Determine which of your absent reps’ sales opportunities are the most important. Use your CRM to separate “hot” prospects from low-value ones (e.g. following up on leads who have gone cold).
- Distribute the job among the representatives. Encourage them to give feedback on the volume they’ve been given. They must communicate early and often if the situation is too hard to handle.
- Change your message. If a lead receives an email from another rep, it will appear weird. Create a template that describes why a new contact is being contacted by leads.
- Make your commission structure equitable. If the new owner closes a contract for someone else, make sure the commission is distributed evenly between the two salespeople.
Above all, make it clear that these are the steps you’ll do if this scenario occurs.
Representatives, on the other hand, may be hesitant to take a vacation because they are unable to leave their neighbourhoods. Encourage salespeople to take days off so they don’t burn out or feel like their professional and personal lives have gotten entwined. Consider revising your vacation policy if it doesn’t allow employees to carry over days to the next year. Whatever you decide, be sure you convey your decision clearly.
Maintain the safety and productivity of your salespeople.
It’s critical to put your team’s health and happiness ahead of revenue-generating activities. Compassion comes first, and results come second.
Recognize that the playing field isn’t level, and provide additional help to reps who are struggling to adjust to working from home. Distribute clear regulations regarding working from home and maintain open channels of communication with coworkers.
Adopt an inside sales strategy and teach your agents how to alter their messaging and outreach in a virtual environment. Distribute the burden equitably, but provide a secure space for your salespeople to express their concerns. Prepare to allocate leads based on your team’s various capacities and, if necessary, step in yourself—in fact, getting involved as a manager can help to reassure customers.
It is not necessary to choose between staying safe and being productive. Your team can succeed during this health crisis with open and honest communication and support.