Resilience is the capacity to recover from difficulties and an object’s ability to spring back into shape after being stretched. In many ways, this describes a sales team navigating the changes brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic. With so many sales teams working remotely, and encountering new, never-before-seen circumstances, it’s natural for teams to face a potential loss of productivity or experience turnover. Regardless, it’s a good time for sales managers to assess their team’s resilience and abilities to adapt to these new conditions. To build a resilient sales force, managers need to understand the difference between attributes and skills and how qualities such as self-motivation, attitude, adaptability, and empathy can have a major impact in the productivity of your sales team.
Attributes and Skills
Attributes are inherent characteristics, such as personality traits and values. Skills are the ability to perform tasks. From this, managers could conclude they now need sales professionals who are tech savvy and embrace video conferencing and sales automation tools. But possession of these skills solves only part of the equation. Sales managers should also pay attention to the attributes that their sales reps bring:
One of the best determiners for resiliency is one’s ability to self-motivate and think on their feet. Since so much of sales is personality driven, and circumstances can change in an instant, those team members who can self-motivate and adapt will have an advantage. Discovery and presentation are two examples where the ability to read a client’s word choice and body language, whether face-to-face or virtually, can make a big difference, and team members who can adjust accordingly will be in better positions to create rapport and close the deal.
For many, this word takes on a negative connotation, as in “He has an attitude,” but it can also be positive, conveying confidence. Someone with a positive attitude is more open to coaching, which is essential for the shift to learning new skills and stepping outside their comfort zone. Someone with a growth mindset will be focused on always improving, which will help tremendously in the interesting times we are in.
- Flexibility and Adaptability
Flexibility and adaptability can go a long way in sales. While linear sales processes and guidelines are an absolute necessity to achieve consistency and long-term success within a sales organization, they need to be set up to allow sales professionals with a level of freedom to maneuver around buyer personas and the changing behaviors they encounter, especially during difficult times such as the current Covid-19 crisis. Top sales organizations continuously monitor and refine their sales processes and understand that flexibility and adaptability are important traits in the arsenal of their sales team members that should be encouraged, not suppressed.
This is the ability to understand and take part in someone else’s pain or difficulty. Empathy is different from sympathy, which is to feel badly for someone and can come across as condescending. Expressing empathy is a skill that helps us connect with others. We recall and share our own emotions when we went through a similar situation, such as a change in position or a lost deal, and something as simple as letting a client know you’ve gone through the same thing can form a deep bond. Those team members who can develop this will form stronger relationships with clients.
While it may be tempting to think of specific skills team members possess as central to resiliency, it is just as important to to identify the traits and attributes best suited to the changing sales environment. After all, skills can be taught and developed, but having the right attitude and mindset will prove invaluable in the long run. Whether you’re experiencing turnover or assessing your team’s performance, sales managers should note the traits that can help build a more resilient sales force and put team members in the best positions to remain productive during these unprecedented times.