Communication and Sales Team Leadership in Uncertain Times


“If you can’t communicate effectively, then it’s almost impossible to lead your team well. Often the key to better results lies in better communication.”

~ Chandell Labbozzetta ~

What Is A Leader’s Role in a Sales Team?

One of my favourite clients invited me to do some additional work with their sales team to increase their resilience and provide them with additional tools during these challenging and uncertain times. This was a clear demonstration of leadership and concern for their employees in the midst of their own challenges and also an acknowledgement of the importance of communicating this concern in many ways.

As business owners and team leaders our primary concern is naturally about the impact of this uncertainty on our own business and metrics. However, a true leader knows two really important things about their people:

  1. We’re all human. That means that what is going on in one area of our life impacts other areas. Financial stress, disruption to routines, reduced or heightened social interactions, health concerns… They all affect your team members’ performance, so whatever you can do to help people manage these situations and develop resilience matters.
  2. Different people react to different stimuli. This is a variation documented in the book, The Five Love Languages which talks about how we all have preferred methods of receiving and communicating affection. Different members of your team will respond to different efforts to encourage and communicate. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

As a leader, you need to reach out to your team and motivate them in ways that they value… And you need to equip your team members to reach out to clients in different ways, too. If you don’t do this, then you can expect to see your indifference reflected in your performance metrics.

Effective Leaders Create High Performing Teams

There are star performers in every industry and every business. They are the people who rise to the top and stand out no matter what is going on around them. Leading star performers can be challenging but in tough times these people continue to perform and contribute so they don’t showcase the calibre of their leaders.

The biggest test of an effective leader is their ability to create high performing teams. It’s extraordinary to watch a leader take an under-performing team and mould them into high performers and this kind of leadership is one of the biggest assets a business can have. From my observation, these transformational leaders have three core qualities:

  • Vision
  • Flexible Communication
  • Analytical Ability (for both people and situations)

Today, I want to zero-in on the second one: flexible communication skills.

Empowered Multi-Level Communication

We all tend to unconsciously model what we see around us. Sometimes we reject an example so emphatically that we move in the opposite direction, but that isn’t the usual procedure.

What I’ve noticed in several organisations recently is the correlation between the way the leadership team is communicating with their teams and each other and the marketplace performance of the teams. Many of these are sales teams, a few are in the executive suite or HR but the common denominator is communication skills.

One company attracts a specific personality-type of results-driven salespeople. In the current uncertain economy their sales results dropped drastically and morale plummeted at the same time. The situation was so bad that the management realised the only things that were stopping the team from resigning en masse were the unemployment figures so they invited me to sit on some sales calls.

I was fairly sure of what I was about to discover after talking to the directors but, knowing the dangers of assumption, I worked hard to keep an open mind while I observed a sales team meeting and some calls. It was no surprise to discover that the team members reflected management’s obsession with results and made no effort to discover what was going on for the clients. The team was using the same opening and pitch that had been wildly successful a few months earlier and had no clue why it no longer worked. It was a direct reflection of their leadership team’s style.

Flexibility and Growth

Initially, the leaders blamed the sales team, the sales team blamed the clients, the clients blamed coronavirus, the government, and the economy.

Great! No one wins when you are just looking around and for someone to blame.

I actually had to demo a successful pitch to get the team to pay attention to. By listening to the client’s verbal cues and watching his demeanour I turned a rejection into a substantial contract (supported by the sales reps product knowledge). That gained their attention and opened the door for some in-house training. Within days, sales results were improving and morale rose, too in response to the communication techniques and cues they learned.

What impressed me most was the openness of the leadership team to recognise the role they had played in setting up failure and their desire to learn and change too. That openness was immediately reflected in their team.

Secrets Great Communicators Know

Not everyone is a born communicator, but there’s nothing stopping you from becoming one! Often the key to multiplying your Communication Effectiveness Score is hidden under years of unconscious habit.

A H.O.W.T.O. Session uncovers the key, identifies your unconscious communication blockages, and frees you to become the leader you were born to be. Book your session soon!  

Book Your H.O.W.T.O. Session

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