How to keep your sales team productive during a crisis

April 2nd, 2020

Sales can be majorly halted by a pandemic, which can make it difficult to keep your sales team productive.

We’re currently in the midst of a global crisis that is going to redefine humanity, our economies, and businesses for years to come. There isn’t one business out there that hasn’t been impacted or will be impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic in some capacity.

Sales teams can especially feel the brunt during times of duress like this, since they are often those closest to clients feeling the pressure of cut budgets and uncertainty.

As the leader of a sales team, extra vigilance and proactive efforts are required to better support them; so they stay happy, productive, and engaged.

Here are some key ways to help sales teams stay focused and productive during a crisis. 

Keep conversations positive, lighthearted, and fun

Be your team’s light in a time where doom and gloom is on every social media post and news channel. Start conversations discussing their favorite Netflix shows or what books they’re reading. Share funny memes they can relate to. Or even use fun virtual meeting green screens or filters to get them laughing. 

Sales people feed off positivity and energy, and use it to create even more positivity and energy they can share with those around them. But it’s hard to fill a well when there’s no rainfall. As a leader, you can give them that needed boost.

Keeping a positive attitude also helps relieve some of the anxiety they may be feeling about sales numbers, commission decreases, and their overall livelihood. When you show you’re optimistic and willing to stick it through, it transfers to their perception as well. 

Show genuine concern for your team’s well being

Sometimes the best thing you can do to support your team is to let your inner “mama bear” come through. Check in with them on a serious level. Ask how they’re doing. Ensure they’re safe and have family nearby, and recommend a day off now and again when it’s clear they really need it. 

Recognizing their humanity and showing you truly care about them on a personal level will build a stronger bond, encourage them to be honest and transparent with you, and motivate them to work harder.

Focus less on this quarter’s goals and more on the future

This quarter is going to see a drop in sales for companies across the globe and throughout industries -- unless maybe you’re a grocery chain or toilet paper distributor.

Rather than focusing on short term numbers, direct the conversation to the more distant future. Brainstorm ways to make Q3, Q4, and beyond successful, despite the fresh set of challenges.

Encourage creative solutions to problems to help keep your sales team productive

Good sales reps have busy minds, which is normally a blessing, but can create problems if they aren’t stimulated. With so many things up in the air, your team may be losing it trying to figure out what to do. And if they don’t find an outlet, that pent up energy can easily turn into panic.

This is a perfect time to start working on side projects that normally fall to the wayside when things are busy. Have your team brainstorm new approaches, updates for sales presentations or emails, and new verticals they want to try targeting. This will keep their minds active and their spirits high.

Have them host a virtual event or happy hour

Given the circumstance, it’s likely your team is going a bit stir crazy and feel isolated. One great way to counteract this is to encourage them to host some sort of virtual event -- whether it be exclusive to your internal team, or one they share with clients and prospects. It’s a great way for them to still socialize and bring people together while they’re at it. 

Avoid using competition to motivate

There isn’t one “sales superstar” on the team at FFW, because they are all superstars.  We strictly avoid having activities on the team that encourage a competitive environment. The focus needs to be on functioning as one unified force. Sales members are encouraged to share their success stories with each other in meetings and reach out to the rest of the team when they need help solving a problem. But there isn’t a spotlight put on whoever has the best numbers that month. 

Remind your team to practice compassion and empathy

Now is definitely not the time to besiege your clients with an onslaught of aggressive sales messages. Rather than trying to “sell”, your team can still reach out to customers with questions on how they need support during this time. That still builds the client relationship and opens up ways you can still offer value, without being distasteful.

This pandemic has affected all of us in some fundamental way, but the positive thing is it has the capacity to bring us all together in a more human way.

Has the recent pandemic caused your company to go remote? 

Check out our resources on best practices for leading remote teams in specific departments at FFW was built upon the need to thrive in a global and remote environment. We’ve learned a lot over the years, and have a lot to share for those new to the remote world. 


Valerie Peterson

Valerie Peterson

VP Client Engagement