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To sell is still human, so is leadership

01 May 2020   (0 Comments)
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Friday, 1 May 2020

During this extraordinary crisis, when fear and panic can set in, sales leaders need to develop a heightened understanding of the emotional needs of their commercial teams to help their business survive.

Sales leaders need to listen: to keep in regular contact with each of their team members and to keep coaching them individually through the crisis.

That was the key message during a webinar on leadership by Ian Wearne and Chris Battye both APS Fellows who founded the training and consultancy company, Competitive Edge.

Their talk, titled “To sell is still human and so is leadership”, was hosted by the Association of Professional Sales as part of our Covid-19 series, to keep sellers safe and selling.

Research by the US psychologist Professor Abraham Maslow, in his classic “hierarchy of needs”, shows that if human beings cannot meet their basic needs - food, shelter, safety, and a secure income - they cannot function at a higher level. The ability to be creative and to solve problems simply won’t exist.

At the start of the webinar, to underline their point, they invited participants to take part in an instant, online poll. This revealed that 73% of their audience were worried about missing sales targets.

During this tough lockdown , said Ian and Chris, most people are simply focusing on their immediate safety and physical needs, but in an attempt to stay in control , irrational new behaviours will develop. (Think loo rolls).

It is the job of a sales leader to coach their sales teams to recognise and challenge their irrational behaviours. Urgently trying to sell now, to phone clients again and again, is irrational. The panicky inner voice needs to be replaced by a voice that is calm, clear and human.

But they warned, to understand how your sales teams are coping during the Coronavirus crisis will “take more than a pep talk”. This is when good coaching will both support and challenge your teams to develop emotional intelligence, to be resilient and to be business-minded.

And beware of what they called “toaching” - basically telling someone what to do, under the guise of coaching. Good coaching is listening to understand, then empowering your salespeople to make their own decisions.

“It’s important to keep in regular contact with your team, particularly if they have been furloughed. Not speaking to them, then expecting them to come back in peak performance is unrealistic. Good coaching conversations must be prioritised throughout,” said Ian.

“Everyday is a learning day, even through Coronavirus.”

Our free, Covid-19 sales webinars, to keep sellers safe and selling, are open to everyone, not just members.

Click here to see our full programme of events, and book your place.