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5 Tips for Managing Remote Sales Teams During the COVID-19 Crisis

During this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, sales and sponsorship teams have moved out of the familiarity of their traditional offices and into the uncharted world of their remote home offices for an unknown length of time. That being said, the role of today’s sales and corporate support managers/directors that manage these teams is more important than ever. Below are 5 essentials to help you guide your teams as they balance client and day to day activities in this complex environment.

Provide the Playbook

If your team isn’t used to working from home for extended periods of time they need direction from you. Even your most experienced account reps will appreciate the help even if they don’t say it. Provide daily schedule ideas, remind them to take breaks, and give them each an individual goal for the day to accomplish. Providing structure in times like these provides comfort to your team.

One Size Does Not Fit All

No matter how long you’ve been managing your team, there’s a good chance you’ll need to pivot and retool your management style for each rep in this new environment. For instance, account reps who are known for being calm, cool, and collective during an everyday normal dilemma, may reveal an uncharacteristically anxious or hesitant side that you’ve not seen before in the office. On the other hand, don’t be surprised if an account rep who tends to keep to themselves pulls an insightful piece of research benefiting the team. Adapt your style as your team members adapt.

The Telephone is Back

Management by email is so pre-COVID-19…Voice to voice communication is essential in a crisis. You have the power to set the tone for the mindset and attitude of each of your team members. Talk to your account reps each day, even if it’s just a few minutes to check in on their day. Just as this crisis is fluid and changes by the minute, the challenges and mindsets of your team members will as well. They need to hear your voice as opposed to another email.

Also, your account reps can do the same for their clients. Encourage them to make calls of support as opposed to an email checking in on clients. Sponsors do want to talk even if they’re not the ones reaching out.

Plant the Seeds for a Bountiful Harvest

We can use this time to plan for tomorrow. Now is a great time to encourage team members to schedule research time in their day. Assign new verticals to each account rep based on their interests as well as action items around finding available qualitative info, market media monitoring, etc. Schedule a team Zoom, WebEx, or conference call for team members to present their findings. You and your team will feel good about getting a sprint with this research as this crisis ends.

Just a Moment in Time…Attitude is Everything

Remind yourself and your team that this is a moment in time and not forever. Each of us will come out of this experience with new knowledge, fresh ideas, and a gratitude for the impact we have on others as well as those who do the same for us. Self-development author Dr. Wayne Dyer used to say “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” As a manager, you have the opportunity and privilege to help your teams through this crisis by guiding them in what they see. Never underestimate the value of your direction, presence, and the impact of instilling a positive, growth mindset in the midst of any crisis within your team. Your influence will have far reaching effects in ways you’ll never imagine.

Lori Zoss Kraska, MBA is founder/chief principal of Growth Owl, LLC. She works with public media corporate support teams as well as non profit organizations across the country in helping them increase revenues from corporate sponsors and foundations. She also provides training, coaching, and strategic consulting for sales teams, managers, and c-level executives in broadcast and non profit development fields.

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