Sales Teams in Uncertain Times: How to Lead Them?


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As we go through the COVID-19 crisis, one of the most affected areas that is sales. While all the shopping related to basic needs is beyond its peak, other types of sales are naturally and unfortunately struggling. According to Scott Edinger, founder of Edinger Consulting Group, the powerful emotions caused by the crisis could lead to poor decisions and practices in terms of sales organization and leadership. Therefore, Edinger believes that in order to thrive, things must be done differently instead of simply doing more. Because of his experience in dealing with prior economic challenges like the 2001 and 2008 recessions, he has listed a group of principles to apply in these times of uncertainty, which we summarize here.

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The urge of increasing sales call activity must be resisted

Instead, opt to drive your strategy through the sales organization in a rigorous way. Be assured that your sales team is going after your optimal target client in terms of budget, scope, value of your offerings, among other factors that define a successful client for your business. You can channel your efforts into a limited number of outstanding opportunities in the pipeline. In other words, focus your sales team to filter and actively pursue qualified opportunities only, instead of chasing bad prospects, which never make for good clients.

Remove low-value reporting requirements

Keep a strong dashboard of leading indicators that deliver predictive measures of success at each stage of the sales process. Some leading indicators will go a long way, like new opportunities at each stage, the value of opportunities at each stage, and the volume of opportunities advancing from each stage to the next. Be truthful with yourself about the frequency of progress reports that you need and don’t slow down to check them. Unproductive reporting can limit effectiveness by focusing on moving numbers around on spreadsheets instead of executing on sales efforts that could increase profits.

Focus on the Early Stages of the Pipeline

Leaders who feel anxious about revenue instinctively focus on the late stages of the pipeline. However, doing that where a decision is already on the horizon might be bad. It rarely has a substantial impact on your bottom line because the terms, deliverables, and pricing are on the table.

Shortsightedly focusing on late-stage revenue also ends in missed opportunities during the early stages of the sales process. This is where you have the greatest potential for reinforcing the business and reducing the recession’s effects. Further needs are identified throughout the early stages and the scope of an opportunity can be expanded. Also, building conceptual understanding about your solutions with the right decision makers can speed up the sales cycle. The front end of the sales process allows to create value and set yourself apart from the competition. This will make negotiations easier when it’s time to explore varying deliverables, terms, or fees. It’s a must that leaders focus on the early-stage opportunities where they can make a difference in account strategy, resource allocation, and client relationships at the executive level.

Although it’s normal for executives to feel anxious about revenue and net income results, especially during a crisis, it’s better to apply the principles above instead of taking approaches based in fear. These principles will help you to efficiently lead your sales organization in challenging times by building a powerful sales engine for your business. This will support your company through the toughest times.

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