This is not the first time that the world has faced a historic crisis, and it may not be the last time either. A crisis has always been a defining moment for the world, businesses and economies. And the current global pandemic isn’t the only crisis we’re facing — we have the ongoing climate, refugee and healthcare crises to contend with as well. All combined, these are show-stopping, economy-stopping and world-stopping events.
In times of crisis, the media spotlight is firmly on you, your business, your brand and your response. What do you do? Should you look at crisis as a time of danger or should you consider it as a time of opportunity?
If you look at it as an opportunity, you quickly realize the one constant of any crisis: Selling doesn’t stop.
Customer need doesn’t halt even if the rest of the world does. If you don’t sell, someone else will. Yes, a crisis changes a consumer’s buying habit, as evidenced by the current pandemic. But now is the time for a sales person’s crisis leadership competencies to shine.
There are nine core competencies that a sales leader needs to develop to combat a crisis and continue leading a sales team during crisis to generate revenue for the organization.
This is a time when communication is vital. Your consumer would not appreciate being blindsided or left in limbo, wondering what’s happening with his order or your business. Your communication has to be authentic. Your customers need to see you display unwavering honesty and sensitivity.
Stay connected with your customers. Check on their well-being, inform them about your business’s plan of action to sail through this crisis, assure them that you have not abandoned them.
Courage and Perseverance
This is a time when you have to be steady. There is a need for rock-hard concentration and decisiveness in you. You will be required to say “no” to specific deals or requests of your internal and external customers. You will need a high level of integrity, and that has to come from within.
The pandemic has shifted customers’ loyalty. They are now looking for those suppliers who align with their need for convenience. Trust can waiver. At every step, you, your brand and your business should come across as credible. Keep communicating with your customers on the steps you are taking for business continuity, highlight the improved or innovative customer experience that your company has come up with, present stories from existing customers who are talking about how you have taken care of them during the crisis and involve your customers in product or process designs, make them feel engaged with your brand.
There will be instances when you will realize that a certain business model will no longer work in the crisis, and you must make the decision to change. Making difficult or unpopular decisions to keep the company fluid and viable is one of the key strengths of a crisis sales leader.
It is not only about showing compassion or empathy. It is also a time to be aware of your own emotions and managing self. Work intentionally and with a high level of integrity. Managing your emotions is necessary for the well-being of your team and your organization.
Collaboration during this time will yield the most significant results. Think of creative solutions with your team and with your customer. Involving your customer in the solution designing process will generate trust and quick buy-in. This is integral to successfully leading a sales team during crisis.
Be aware of your surroundings and the situation. Don’t only focus on your immediate environment but also pay attention to your customers’ customers, their business, your market, your competition and your economy. Awareness brings agility and you will be able to respond faster when it’s obvious a pivot or shift is necessary.
Always operate with a service orientation — toward your team, toward your organization, toward your product and toward your customers. These are the times when you cannot just lead from the top but must strive to work among the team and lead from within. Caring has to be one of your main characteristics.
The above nine core competencies is what you have to rely on to successfully lead your sales team during crisis and generate revenue for your organization. However, this is just the beginning.
While these core competencies will help you lead through ambiguous and uncertain situations, your team also needs to develop remote selling skills.
Leverage technology to demonstrate product usage. Train your team to develop rapport online in order to grab and retain your customers’ short attention spans. Help your team overcome the remote sales challenges and also help your customers buy from their comforts with ease and convenience.
As long as you adhere to these insights, you can successfully steer the success of your organization, crisis or not.
This article was originally published by Pritha on the Forbes website in November 2020. Pritha is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches.