How To Be a Quality Leader in a Time of Crisis
COVID-19 has thrust many businesses across the world into uncharted territory. As leaders, this serves as a reminder to consider what you and your sales teams can do for their customers, partners, and colleagues in this ever-changing situation.
We spoke with Julie Gerts, our Director of Talent Services and Business Development on how she has continued to communicate with her team, while leading them to success while understanding the challenges people are facing today.
Provide Support and Reassurance to Clients
Getting back to basics is more important now than ever. Let your customers set the tone and fully understand their needs and concerns. Most customers are living in a time of ambiguity, it is important to show our teams that we need to be there for our clients every day. Ask your client questions and don’t assume you know the answers. We need to gain a better understanding of where they are in this current workforce environment.
Additionally, we need to approach our conversations with empathy and flexibility in some areas that might not come up in a traditional sales cycle. Beginning with a quick conversation to check-in on your client’s personal lives and see how they are doing during this time of need. Clients are worried about their business, but they are also worried about their suppliers. They need to know that you are still there to support them and provide them with the services that they’ve come to expect. In addition, they may need other help and if you can offer that, even better.
Julie mentions that her team has always acted as consultants to better recognize their clients’ challenges and make recommendations that may or may not include your product or service. Helping clients navigate through tough times is critical to strengthening current relationships and opening new doors of opportunity.
Continue to Check in With Your Team
Remaining focused on communication and transparency with your team will foster individual and team growth. Julie shares with us that sending a quick message to your team members could foster a deeper relationship.
“Regular check ins and meet ups do not mean to change your management style overall and become a micromanager. However, it may require more communication than in the past and being available to support your team, they may be challenged with getting the resources they need during this time. Additionally, since your team is apart, celebrating the small wins in addition to the big ones is highly encouraged. Make the meeting a little more informal and fun at the end and discuss each other’s weekend plans, or how eLearning is going for the families in the group.”
Other great ways to keep your team grounded:
- Scheduled weekly check-ins
- Virtual happy hours – try to get your CEO to join!
- Listen to the same podcast as a team
Adjust Your Team’s Mindset From Selling to Helping
Similar to checking in on your team members frequently, check in on your clients and “stay in front of them.” Speaking with your clients to solely help them and not sell to them, is an important lesson to remember. However, selling should always be about helping your prospect or client to solve a problem. In order to help a client solve a problem, you must first have a thorough understanding of what the problem is. This is why discovery is so important and cannot be skipped.
Even if there are no dollars to be made, if you can help a client in a time of need, they will remember that and likely buy from you when the opportunity presents itself. Closing deals or signing contracts at this time shouldn’t be the ultimate goal as you are assisting your clients through this challenging period in their business.
If a customer has an urgent business need that translates to a sale, that is wonderful! Use this as a valuable opportunity to guide your clients and align with their needs and interests.
Be Flexible and Understanding of Your Team
Remaining flexible and understanding with your team, especially when situations arise like the recent stay at home orders is very important. Julie has found it valuable to try to put yourself in your teammates position.
“We all need to understand that each individual has their own unique set of circumstances. Someone on your team may be dealing with a job loss of their spouse, some may have young children that either require constant supervision or help with eLearning. Some may be dealing with a family member who has the virus and unfortunately, some may lose loved ones to COVID-19.”
At Knowledge Services, we pride ourselves in putting our talented team members first. We value our teammates and if a member of your team is struggling, providing resources to help is our priority. Whether professionally through additional training or personally with an employee assistance program (EAP), [link HR piece] we keep our team members top of mind.
Be Mindful of the Uncertainty
Julie’s suggestion for all teams in the workforce greatly benefits those that may not have experienced working through an economic downturn of this scale before. Most importantly, however, leaders should remember that not all practices are universal, and every team member has a different path to get through this. There are no wrong answers!
Your clients could be facing sudden distress in the wake of closures and revenue declines, and the professionals on your sales team might share similar feelings. Remaining mindful of the current economic environment and leading with compassion is important as you grow as a team.
All in all, due to the current news cycle, people across the world need positivity. Knowledge Services is encouraging other companies and teams to share and spread their optimism using their online presence. When companies emerge from the uncertainty, they will be reaching out to partners who have kept in contact with them and provided help and support; be that business partner.