How to Engage Your Sales Team During an Economic Downturn

We are all feeling the slowdown in the economy. Deal velocity, deal size and perhaps several opportunities may have decreased with companies prioritizing their spending.How as sales leaders can we support, motivate, and keep our team engaged during these difficult times?

In short, it starts with how we are managing ourselves. How can we calm ourselves, get present, and take a realistic look at where we are and where we want to be? Breaking the future down into digestible bites. What is within our control? Are you clear on your purpose? Your  "Why"? What ignites you, fuels you? Lights you up? If not, anything downstream will not be felt or transferred. Your message sounds like it is coming from an empty vessel.Take the necessary steps to check in with yourself. What do you need to motivate yourself, lift your spirits, and inspire joy?

Back to the basic human needs… are you looking after yourself? Getting enough sleep, activity, outdoor time, family/friend time, spiritual/religious time, learning and growing time. Trying to get all cylinders firing again.
Once you have these in place, continue to build on them. Getting yourself together is critical before you engage your team, they will feel the disconnect, and lack of sincerity, and see you as a taskmaster vs a leader who is vested in their future and well-being. Self-care is not a one and done, we constantly must work through this as some of the plates in the air slow down or stop spinning altogether. This is an opportunity to see if we have too many plates in the air, whether are they the right plates and whether are they contributing to the outcomes we are looking for.

From there 3 suggestions to keep your team engaged:
1) Embrace Transparency
2) Communicate Clearly and Often
3) Solicit and Offer Feedback

1) Transparency wins all the time. It disarms your audience, builds trust, and allows them to quickly see things for what they are, removing the guesswork. As Todd Caponi states, our brains are predictive machines, we always want to know if the juice is worth the squeeze. If you share the challenges upfront, and what we can and cannot do, they can predict the path forward. Otherwise, we leave them wondering, speculating, hoping, all taking up valuable bandwidth and creating unnecessary worry.  Be upfront and lead with transparency.

You also stand out as being different. Most will try to skirt around things and minimize the impact, only to catch your team off guard later.

2) Communicate clearly and often, Dr. Keith Spicer coined the term "clear thinking is clear speaking". How often have you played the message over in your head to ensure it is clear, concise and will motivate action from your audience, not just you? Think about how your message may be perceived, and what language are you using. Is it universally understood? Could some interpret it differently? Creating misalignment, inactivity, or confusion? Are you communicating updates, changes, even no change, again? Again, our brains are trying to predict the path forward, if they can't, it panics, disengages, and creates undue stress.

As Oprah says "Expecting people to do what You would do in a situation, only leads to your disappointment."

3) Re-engage your team by reinforcing what they are doing well through sharing feedback.Most likely, they are feeling the pinch in their wallet, how can we keep their spirits high? Is their sense of belief and desire strong? Provide regular feedback letting them know what they are doing well and the impact it is having on you, the team, the company, and your customers. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. In addition to that, how can you ask for feedback, solicit from the team, what more they need from you, and how you can further support them individually as well as as a team?
Knowing your team, it is important to not paint everyone with the same brush. Highlighting specifics that each member is doing that is contributing to the overall team is important. Also, seek clarity on what each indvidual needs from you, and support their individual needs. Allow them to feel heard and seen.

Can you post it somewhere for all to see, share it in the company newsletter, increase visibility and remind them of their contributions?

There are several ways you can keep your team engaged beyond the 3 suggestions above. The better you know your team, and what makes them tick, the more tailored your approach will be. Just like our prospects, they will feel this emotionally and respond positively. Starting with you, what will you start, stop, and continue doing to ensure you are in an optimal physical, mental and emotional condition?

From there, how will you leverage this to start engaging your team today?


About Karen Kelly

For 20 years Karen has been specializing in the art and science of sales and communication her passion and experience are helping technical sales professionals become more confident and to disrupt with value.

Her dedication to developing and delivering customized sales training programs provide her audience practical, relevant tools  that can be used immediately to break down the barriers in a competitive landscape and separate themselves from the noise.

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