Why now is the best time to invest in your sales and customer success team

I was reminded of a Chinese Proverb last week: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Even though our heads, hearts, lives, and businesses are spinning with uncertainty from COVID-19, a few things remain true, steady and clear.

  1. Change is something we need to get used to
  2. The (second) best time to invest in your people is NOW

We’re still dealing with the usual demands of business — deadlines, quotas, and high expectations — but the need for empathy, compassion, flexibility, and humanity has intensified.

As a company that equips sales and customer success teams with the skills and habits that help them bring more humanity into their customer interactions, we’ve had scores of conversations with people who have been met with having to maintain business as usual while facing this new remote reality.

The pressure (and need!) to foster trust and build relationships has never been greater or more challenging than it is now.

It’s more important than ever that leaders and teams are equipped with the proper mindsets, skills, and habits to navigate this crisis — and to help their customers do the same.

From reps to managers to VPs to CEO’s, we are seeing that some of the strongest companies during this crisis have maintained (or invested MORE in) learning and development resources for their teams, instead of cutting back.

Although many of the conversations have shifted to be about how to ensure short-term successes, the focus on building skills and long-term habits is still seen as mission-critical.

Thoughtful leaders will ask: How might we come out of this situation MORE resilient and BETTER prepared to face the future?

Here are some of the top challenges that sales and customer success leaders have shared with us since going remote:

1. Priorities are not a match

We’ve heard that it’s difficult to reach customers. They aren’t answering the phones, they’re stuck in back-to-back meetings and they’re running around putting out fires. Customer priorities are not a match for the priorities of sales and CS teams trying to sell-in or implement solutions.

What’s missing? Empathy and awareness.

Sales and customer success teams need to reorient and establish new goals and priorities. Start from scratch and rethink your approach — the behaviors your teams are incentivized to perform are not likely to be a match for the current needs of your customers.

It’s time to reframe the roles of sales and customer success (if you don’t already have this view!) to focus on supporting, serving and solving…NOT selling.

Showing a bit of empathy and awareness for what your customers are dealing with — and then providing them value and support with no intention to hard sell — will go a long way in building relationships, establishing trust and connecting with people amidst the chaos.

Check-in: Is your team equipped to listen empathically, pose questions that unlock new pathways for action, or hold space for customers to share what really matters to them?

2. Our teams are distracted

Most sales and customer success teams have enough on their plates to keep them busy for years to come. The problem is, if they don’t have the skills and discipline to plan and prioritize their work (and their self-care), then they can easily get distracted, paralyzed and overwhelmed. Add a global pandemic to the mix and we’ve got a perfect storm leading to collective burnout.

Let’s face facts: working remotely has led to many people working around the clock.

What’s missing? Self-care and self-management.

Endless work + stress + uncertainty + relentless goals + pressures = hive collapse. If you want your team to stay healthy, fit and focused for the longterm…and to emerge from this situation better than before…then help your team build the skills and habits of self-care, connection and self-management.

What does this look like? And how could we possibly add more to people’s already-full plates?

First, you’ve got to help them plan and prioritize.

When things go sideways, it’s human nature to start taking action on the things that we CAN control. The problem is, those things are rarely the most IMPORTANT things to be done. Prioritizing what is important vs. urgent is a team-wide imperative if you want to reduce stress.

When unimportant-yet-urgent tasks fill up our days, it can feel like we’re never making a dent in the work to be done. Want to help your people with self-care, stress, and self-management? Make it clear what the priorities are.

Check-in: Is your team equipped with the skills and space to practice self-care, reduce stress, support one another and manage priorities?

3. There is too much noise

“Let’s all jump online at the same time and shout at each other,” said no one ever. But that’s what is happening. Just look at LinkedIn — have you ever seen so much new content on there?!

Businesses are pivoting and everyone is in the market with a message. Every person and business feels compelled to respond and offer resources, which is helpful, however, all of these reactions and responses and solutions have created an overwhelming amount of noise and clutter!

What’s missing? True connection and trustworthy advice.

What does this mean for sales and customer success teams? It’s time to BUILD!

Instead of hunting for new sales, focus on farming. Build your network. Build your relationships. Build value for your existing customers.

It’s a time to show up and stand out differently. Maybe take a stab at reworking that dusty LinkedIn profile so that it accurately reflects which problems you solve and for whom!

Don’t start “speaking at” people. Instead, start a conversation. Reach out to people you haven’t spoken to in a while!

Now is NOT the time to push, drive or force; it’s a time to connect, listen and foster. It’s a time to be thoughtful, considerate and to look within.

Check-in: Is your team equipped with the skills to build deep connections with customers, offer credible and compassionate support, and help customers map the ever-changing landscape that we’re all facing?

Ready for your team to be BETTER than before?

If you are looking for resources you can share with your team, be sure to check out our working remotely resource library. Updated with new information each week, it can be your go-to source to help support your sales or customer success teams.

If you are looking for a more customized approach to increasing your or your team’s success, check out our list of over 48 Virtual Masterclasses. Virtual Masterclasses are 2-hour instructor-led sessions that focus on pairing stories with interactive activities, roleplay, and demos that help your people quickly build skills by exposing “common traps” associated with a specific habit and providing “expert moves” in the form of demonstrable skills.

Virtual Masterclass topics range from Listening Empathically to Running Effective Virtual Meetings to Storytelling, and more. If you’re interested in bringing a Virtual Masterclass (or a series) to your team, contact us directly!

Good luck, stay healthy, and never stop improving!

– Bree & the Habits at Work team

Breean Elyse Miller

Chief Brand & Product Officer, Co-founder

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