These days, nearly all of our employees and customers are working virtually. This presents a unique set of challenges for sales teams. As a sales manager, you can help them manage this new and uncertain territory.
We asked two sales leaders to share their insights in our webinar, Managing in a Virtual World. Lauren Lynch, Director of Sales at Rapid7, and Mary Rogul, Key Account Director at PathFactory, offered their advice on how to succeed as a manager. Here are the top takeaways from the event:
1. Experiment and ask for constant feedback. Pivot when something doesn’t work.
A lot of our culture has been developed around us being in the office and chatting with each other throughout the day. As a leader, it’s helpful to give feedback on the fly.
A lot of us were initially really worried about how this was going to work. We wanted to keep our culture alive. We’ve done a lot of things. Some worked and some have not. But why force that in the virtual setting? Try adjusting to create a workflow that was more natural. The important thing is to stay connected and collaborative.
2. Create a space where people feel comfortable sharing ideas.
Solicit a lot of continued feedback and encourage managers and team leads to do the same. Create a space within my organization where I stay open-minded and try my team members’ ideas.
As a sales leader, you sometimes feel like pushing a message isn’t being effective, possibly because it’s coming from you. If you can get another voice involved, new ideas spread faster and they can assume more of a leadership role.
3. Encourage your team to let you know everything they’re doing outside of deals.
In times like this, over-communication can be helpful. It can feel a little corny to tell your boss, “here’s a laundry list of everything I’ve done lately.” However, when we can’t see what’s going on in the office, you have to do this. Ask questions in your one-on-ones. This creates a space to share. Show them what I’m doing to communicate with others in my organizations. Self-advocacy is hard, but leading by example can help encourage your team members.
4. Arrange your own schedule that works for you.
Offer autonomy to your team members and give them the freedom to work when they need to work. That may mean not starting until 9:30 or 10:00 if it’s their time to work with their children on their education in the early morning. Try scheduling meetings around your obligations.
We have to help each other to work when they can and adjust to the new workflow.
5. Prioritize your time better to be more efficient.
For a lot of people, this whole experience has made them realize they have not always been managing their time effectively. In our new situation, we have to really think about how to prioritize better. Look at the things you’re doing that aren’t worth your time or can be condensed. Maybe you can replace a phone call with a quick Slack conversation.
6. Create opportunities for people to connect that aren’t overly burdensome.
Slack is a big way for people on our team to remain engaged and connected. Have Slack channels not just for individuals on our team, but for your most important customers. This helps you to stay up-to-date on what’s going on with these premier accounts.
7. Make use of multiple communication channels.
Although Slack is great, sometimes it’s easy to misinterpret things on Slack, especially if you’re in a rush. Try other channels that are more appropriate for the situation. This could help you get on the same page in a way you could not just on Slack.
8. Block time for relaxation and family.
Figure out what’s going to work for you. It’s not always possible to do yoga every day. To prevent burnout, block off time for true relaxation. Take a break for an hour a day and treat that time as an appointment. We’re always going to be busy, but we need to prioritize having that time for family and relaxation.
9. Encourage your team to take a day off.
As a leader, now is a good time to encourage your team to take a day off. Even though it feels odd because you can’t do most of the things you usually like to do, it’s still important to take that time for yourselves.
Just a little time off can help you get refreshed when you get back, you could all breathe better.
10. Be collaborative and acknowledge the uncertainty.
You could not simply ask the same questions that you’ve been asking before the pandemic. As a leader, you need to adjust the expectations you have for your team and how they will fulfill their responsibilities. Now is not the time to tell them to find an entirely new pipeline. Instead, help your team find other strategies to succeed. Show empathy by being upfront with your team about the difficulties all we’re facing.
11. Evaluate your own feelings so that you can express empathy towards your team.
With all of the things that you’re encountering right now, you need to check in with yourself. You have to manage how you feel about what’s happening before you can help your teams. By understanding your own feelings, you can communicate your positions to your team. how that they can have a conversation with you that is empathetic and understanding.
Managing a sales team in this current situation is difficult, but through empathy, flexibility, and strong communication, you can help your team navigate the new virtual world.
For further suggestions about how you can help yourself and your team survive these times, watch the full webinar replay.