By now I am sure you are tired of hearing how the pandemic, along with other issues like supply chain, inflation, and the war in Ukraine, have turned our lives upside down. How and where we work, how our clients work and buy, and how we have to sell.
Have you stopped to consider, though, how it has changed how you manage and lead?
It has become very obvious, as I work with global sales teams, everyone’s jobs have changed. Yet, I continue to see Leaders do what they have always done, only faster now. Running around and spending the majority of their time putting out fires. Their people are doing the same thing. Together, this is a recipe for a disaster.
Over the past two years in our on-going Sales Challenges Surveys, salespeople now consistently report that “Prioritizing Where I Spend My Time” is their top sales challenge, surpassing “Differentiating My Offerings” that was at the top for years.
Your people are confused about what they should be doing and how. They recognize that their job has changed, and they need your supportive leadership to help change with it.
In this year of “No Excuses, Just Results,” where we all got a pass in 2020 and recalibrated in 2021, I believe Leaders should be focused on leading and managing four key areas:
- Your Team’s Mindset
This is absolutely top priority. People are a company’s greatest asset and therefore its greatest risk. People that are confused about how to do their jobs today. Some feel like their goals are unattainable. That their Leaders are too busy to support them. All roads lead to disengagement, which you can ill afford in this time of the “Great Resignation,” especially for your top performers.
Take time to engage with your team both individually and collectively on how they are feeling, the challenges they are facing, and what they need from you. If your team has not been together for a while (or at all) since the start of the pandemic, bring them together. And please, conduct regular 1:1s with all of your people. If you do them right, they will be good “therapy sessions” for both of you. Remember, people really do not leave companies, they leave their Leaders.
- Your Team’s Activities
Many companies have failed to fully examine their key processes and practices and continue to do things the way they always have. Which, in turn, is contributing to your people’s confusion and frustration. WHAT are the repeatable activities and best practices that the team needs to execute to support success today? HOW specifically should they do them, and how OFTEN?
A crucial example… If your sales process was primarily conducted face-to-face, how is it different today in a virtual environment? Do your sales and support teams truly understand what “good” looks like today and how to do it? Do you?
- Your Top 5
Through all the turmoil and frenzy, it is critical that you identify the Top 5 things that will drive your success this year and spend the majority of your time focused on them. Is it building your pipeline? Closing your Must Win Deals? Renewing your top clients? Selling new products and services? Retaining your top performers? Hiring and developing new people? Implementing a new sales process? Once you identify the Top 5, develop a plan to coach, inspect, and execute them every single week.
- Your Time
The only way you will be able to accomplish any of this is to take control of your time. Not everything is an emergency. Say no or negotiate a different time for meeting invites that suddenly appear in your calendar. Clean out your inbox so that important things do not get lost, adding to people’s frustration. Carve out time to focus on your Top 5 and your 1:1s and let your team and your boss know that time is sacred. Take time to THINK and PLAN. If all you are doing is running and reacting, you are not leading.
The message is clear. If you and your team are still doing things like you have always done, you are in for real challenges. Focus on these four areas to help you gain control and provide supportive leadership for your team’s success!
Have an open, honest team discussion about the challenges they are facing. Identify the areas that need focus. Begin to collect and document the best practices that are working. Be sure to let them know you hear. Understand and care that you are committed to helping address them.