During this period of economic, social and personal uncertainty it can be easy for a sales leader to focus on themselves and their own problems rather than that of their team. Evidence tells us that doing things for others or for a greater cause makes us much more likely to succeed in whatever we are doing, as well as making us feel happier and more content by doing so.
In difficult times like now I believe this becomes even more important and we have seen some great examples of this in the news recently, with one stand out example of Captain Tom who has not only raised £28M (at the time of writing) for the NHS but has also inspired hundreds if not thousands of others to start raising money and helping others.
What has this got to do with sales leadership I hear you saying? Leadership is akin to stewardship and our responsibility is first and foremost with our employees, our colleagues, our teams. It is our role as leaders to make them feel confident and secure in their roles, to give support and mentorship where we can and to ensure they are confident in their abilities with the freedom and autonomy to do what’s needed.
In tough times, whether that be the dot com bust in 2000, the financial crisis of 2008 or the current Covid-19 crisis, it will be the organisations with strong leadership who come out the other side with viable, even stronger business with a strong and healthy workforce.
Here at Workbooks we were lucky enough to be in a position where the swop from office working to home working was easy to achieve, at least from a technology point of view. After the first couple of weeks once everyone has made the transition and settled into this new way of working it then fell on the leadership team to ensure we could carry on ‘leading’ our teams.
The first change we made in the sales teams was to introduce a daily huddle, which is held either first thing or last thing in the day. This is to ensure everyone has the chance to chat with their colleagues, discuss ideas or issues, plan for the day ahead or review what happened that day. With the use of video conferencing technology, we are all able to see each other every day, reinforcing that sense of esprit de corps, which is so important in any team.
As a team we usually hold a weekly sales training session where we watch a Ted talk or video on a topic the team chooses. Topics like, sales objections, prospecting ideas, how to close, mindset, motivation, negotiation skills, etc. This has now moved to a video conference, but the format remains the same. We watch the video as a team and the critique and comment at the end and discuss how we might use some of the ideas in real life sales situations.
We have increased the frequency of our 1:1 meetings from monthly to bi-weekly. Because of the lack of actual human contact, we felt it was important to meet more frequently with the team. Again, the format hasn’t changed a great deal, except there is now more of an emphasis on everyone’s physical and mental well-being. As discussed earlier as leaders it’s our responsibility to ensure our team are all doing well and feeling as safe and secure in their job as possible. With all the added stress and worry over Covid-19 this is an important aspect of our roles as leaders.
Other areas we have introduced as a business are a weekly companywide lunch where we all log-in for a lunchtime chat. There is no set agenda (except for our CEO who wears a different fancy dress outfit each week) and the idea is to have some fun together and share our news and stories.
We have also begun a companywide team chat for people to post fun pictures and videos with the usual amount of pet cats and dogs, daily humour and cake recipes. Here at Workbooks we have 5 core company values and one unofficial 6th value which is cake – we have even compiled a cake recipe book from our favourite recipes for lockdown. You can download it here.
So in these testing times we believe it’s important that we project a positive future, reinforce the message of safety and care wherever possible, keep in regular contact with our teams and continue being a leader focused on our employees and our organisation and not allowing our focus to turn inwards on ourselves.