1 month ago
October 22, 2020

5 Effective Ways To Manage Your Sales Team During A Crisis

The pandemic is undoubtedly placing a lot of pressure on the sales department. It is particularly putting a lot of stress on the shoulders of sales managers. As a sales…

Claire McConnachie

The pandemic is undoubtedly placing a lot of pressure on the sales department. It is particularly putting a lot of stress on the shoulders of sales managers.

As a sales manager, it’s your job to lead the charge, especially in times of uncertainty that have been brought on by COVID-19. You have sales teams working remotely, issues with supply chains, altered customer needs, and many other factors that are constantly changing. The one constant is the need to continue to sell, amid all the uncertainty. You have a lot on your plate and right now you might not be able to see how you’ll get through all this, but you will in time if you take the right approach – a different approach.

In the Harvard Business Review, Scott Edinger explains the importance of sales managers and leaders to take a different approach to be successful. He says,

“The Covid-19 situation is creating an economic crisis, and many executives feel the same sense of fear and dread I experienced in 2001. Powerful emotions often lead to poor decisions and practices when it comes to the leadership of the sales organization. What works in times of economic expansion isn’t what is needed in a challenging economic environment. And since somewhere between one-fourth and one-half of sales professionals in companies have never had to sell during an economic downturn, few companies can lean on their sales team’s experience to get them through. It’s not about doing more — it’s about doing things differently.”

Our Toronto sales recruiters outline 5 effective ways  to manage a sales team during a crisis:

1. Recalibrate

With all the uncertainty happening right now, one of the best things you can do before you make any significant decisions is to take a step back for a second. Take a little time to recalibrate, understand the industry trends, see where things are going, and make decisions with a clear mind. Now is not the time to make short-sighted or emotional decisions. It’s time to stay positive and avoid focusing on anything that brings on negative energy.

2. Be Realistic

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Staying grounded is a challenge itself. When thinking about sales goals, the expectations of your sales teams, and what you want to accomplish during the pandemic, you need to be realistic. You cannot expect to achieve the things you did pre-pandemic during unpredictable times. You can’t place extreme expectations on yourself or your sales team or you will set yourself up for failure.

3. Don’t Focus on Selling More

Spending more time selling will lead to more sales, right? “When leaders are scared, they frequently turn up the volume of sales activity. The logic is that more calls with customers will equal more sales. In some cases, when you have an inexpensive product and sales cycles are quick, this can be true. But if you have a more sophisticated offering that needs to be sold as a solution or using a consultative approach, increasing calls may backfire,” says Edinger.

Rather than focusing on the volume, focus on the execution. Make sure you are targeting the right customers, with the right pitch, at the right time.

4. Target the Right Customers

Every pipeline has an array of customers. They are at different stages in the buying process, have different budgets, and varying degrees of time requirements. Now is not the time to mess around. Every minute of your time (and your sales team’s time) needs to be targeted to the right customers.

Focus on the customers who will provide you with the best bang for your buck. This could mean taking a few quick wins here and there. It could also mean narrowing your focus on the best opportunities for your company.

Most importantly, it means being extra diligent with the prospects you qualify. You cannot afford to chase overly time-consuming prospects who offer little return. Know when to cut bait. Focus your time on the right customers for the current market conditions. As the sales manager, you need to keep your sales reps focused.

5. Adjust the Sales Training You Provide to Your Team

A lot of things get disrupted during uncertain times. Your sales reps will face new challenges. There will be new barriers to overcome, your customers’ needs will shift, and even how your company operates will change. Needless to say, your regularly scheduled sales training may need to be shelved.

It’s not just about sales; it’s about comforting and reassuring your sales team. Reiterate that even though so much is changing around them, the goal is still to sell. Show empathy and understanding. Be flexible and use sales training to address new and emerging issues as they arise. Give your sales team the support and resources they need to be successful.

More Advice for Sales Managers on Our Blog

8 Tips on Maintaining Communication While Working Remotely

8 Ways to Be a Proactive Sales Leader During a Crisis

Top 6 Challenges Sales Managers Face & How to Deal With Them

When Is the Right Time to Promote Your Sales Rep?

Hiring a Sales Director? 6 Things to Look for on Resumes to Find the Best of the Best

4 Challenges for Sales Managers and How to Overcome Them

How to Prepare for Your First Week at Your New Sales Manager Job


SalesForce Search is a Toronto sales recruiting company that specializes in the recruitment and placement of sales professionals. We recruit salespeople in every sector of the economy including, software, manufacturing, financial services, and medical devices. Find the right salesperson for your organization, start your search here.

Claire McConnachie

Claire has 4+ years of experience in sales and recruitment. As a Director of Client Services, her main objective is to connect great people to great companies by building strong relationships with both top clients and candidates in the sales industry. She specializes in sales roles of all seniority levels for both enterprise and start-up clients North American wide. When Claire isn't networking with top talent, she enjoys being outdoors, traveling and spending time with friends & family.