We are going through a period of time that isn’t quite like anything we’ve experienced before. As Joanne Crossland writes for Insperity, we’re in the COVID-19 marathon, not the sprint. Remote work and social distancing will become the norm as disruption stretches into the next 30 or 60 days for many organizations that provide nonessential goods and services. How can you inspire your sales team to stay focused on work and on providing help during the crisis?
The first order of business is to make sure your team members are safe and healthy. If your staff members are personally being impacted by the virus, work with your HR department to get them the resources they need for treatment and recovery. News organizations report most cases of COVID-19 don’t require hospitalizations, but employees may be too sick to work. Assure them that their time-sensitive work will be covered by you or other team members.
Regular Communications During the COVID-19 Marathon
Your team members need plenty of outreach and communication during this crisis. As C. Lee Smith, CEO and President of SalesFuel states, “We are in a period of business as unusual.” Despite the obvious distractions, team members want some of normalcy in their lives and they’ll want to work.
You can help by finding out what your employees need to do their jobs at home. They may not have the right monitor or the right internet access. Work with the IT department to solve these problems. Staff members might also have challenges trying to work at the kitchen table while kids are fighting in the background. Remind them that many people are in the same situation and encourage them to do the best job they can. If possible, grant them permission to work flexible hours so they can meet their family needs.
Stay in touch on a daily basis to see how your sales staff is holding up. These individual contact points may only last ten minutes, but they help socially oriented workers feel less isolated. In addition, let people know what’s happening with your organization. Employees will naturally worry about their jobs as they hear about record numbers of people being laid off. A general update that you email to everyone at the start of each day can provide plenty of solace.
Customer Support Marathon
Everyone wants to help in a crisis. While it may seem self-serving, your organization can provide value by making sure clients get what they need. If they’re asking for support outside of normal business hours, ask your staff members if they’d be willing to step up for a limited time period. This strategy also allows your team members to feel needed.
Some employees will find it harder to concentrate as the social distancing mandate drags on during the COVID-19 marathon. Their performance may slip more than other employees. While you might be able to excuse a day or two of low output, that can’t go on forever. These employees will need more personalized coaching. Talk with them each morning about what they should accomplish by noon. Then check in and review how they’re doing. If you’re not able to turn around their performance, encourage them to access mental health resources your organization has made available.
These next few weeks won’t be easy for anyone. Stay focused and positive and keep the channels of communication open with your team members. Provide and steady active leadership during the COVID-19 marathon.