No matter how hard you try, you can’t prevent every crisis that comes along and safeguard your business against all potential risks.
That’s scary alright, but you shouldn’t panic at the thought that something unexpected might hit your sales and tank your profits. As a matter of fact, you should come to terms with the idea that at some point, you’re slated to encounter a bump on the road.
As a sales manager, you’ll have your fair share of crises, slumps, deals that fall through, angry customers, you name it.
Still, although 79% of decision-makers believe that there’s a potential crisis just around the corner and that it will come their way within the next 12 months, only 54% of companies have a crisis management plan in place.
All this should prompt us to redefine the role of a sales manager and prioritize their responsibility when it comes to empowering their team during a crisis.
- What Kinds of Crisis You Should Get Ready For
- What You Should Do Before a Crisis Hits
- What You Should Do During the Crisis
- What You Should Do After the Crisis
What Kinds of Crisis You Should Get Ready For
There are different types of crises that can befall your sales team practically out of the blue and cause a lot of stress and pressure.
Even though you can do little when it comes to predicting such an unpleasant event, you can still prepare and plan for it in advance, so that you can mitigate its negative effects. The first step is knowing what kinds of crisis scenarios you can face so that you can put together a contingency plan.
1. An Important Deal Might Flop
Imagine spending months negotiating a highly lucrative deal, only for it to fall through in the end.
Even if you map out your sales process and create a well-defined predictable revenue model, the odds are that some of your deals will slip through the cracks.
Sometimes your prospects might change their mind due to a last-minute budget cut or an emergency of their own. These are situations that you don’t have any control over, so make sure to factor them in every time you’re working on a deal.
2. A Valuable Customer Might Churn
You’ve probably noticed that about 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your customers.
But, if one of those super customers abandons you, you’ll be left with a glaring gap in your projected and forecasted revenue. Even if we’re talking about a single valuable customer, the impact of their churn might take its toll not only on your sales team but also the entire company.
Such an event will put an additional strain on your sales team as they will be expected to land more new customers in order to make up for the loss.
3. An Important Member of Your Team Might Leave
Building a high-performing sales team takes time and effort.
So, it’s a great shock when a rock star sales rep leaves and disrupts the team cohesion.
Not only will you be left without an important part of the puzzle, but your other team members might start to question their role in the organization and start thinking about finding another job. This is particularly the case if the critical employee quits of their own free will.
Needless to say that this domino effect might put you in dire straits.
4. Your Budget Might Be Slashed
Budget cuts can shake the foundations of your well-tuned team.
Tightening the belt means that you won’t be able to hire additional sales reps, which might leave your department understaffed and overworked.
Similarly, there won’t be enough funding for sales training and collateral, and this will definitely upset your team and potentially hinder their performance.
5. A Global Crisis
Global crises, like the one we’re currently experiencing, are totally out of your control.
What’s even worse, such a big-scale critical situation can trigger a slew of other, smaller crises, and render you vulnerable and helpless to cope with all the problems that may arise.
That’s why you need to think about a possible crisis before it snowballs into a disaster and have a plan ready ahead of time.
What You Should Do Before a Crisis Hits
Without a crisis management plan, you will probably have a hard time responding to any crisis, and that can have long-term consequences because you can take some wrong steps and make mistakes that will only aggravate your situation.
1. Talk About an Incoming Crisis With Your Team
When there are some indications that a crisis will come your way, share this information with your team.
It’s crucial for them to know that a storm is coming and prepare for it. Besides, by keeping this information from them, you will only put pressure on yourself.
However, make sure to break this news in a way that won’t make them panic because you need your team to stay calm and level-headed. Encourage them to share their concerns about their job security and let them know if their roles will change.
Honesty is critical in this situation, so don’t sugarcoat things and be open about everything.
2. Ask Your Team to Participate and Share Their Ideas
When a crisis is looming on the horizon, the best thing you can do is be proactive and try to find a solution.
Members of your team should participate and come up with potential solutions. As their personalities and skills differ, it’s very likely that they will present you with a number of various ideas and approaches, thus offering a fresh perspective on things.
Organize a brainstorming session and after you discuss all the ideas, draft a plan.
What You Should Do During the Crisis
Putting out the fire, obviously, but that’s not the only thing you should focus on.
1. Check on Your Team and Empathize With Them
The truth is that you’ll most probably be on the edge as the crisis unfolds, which means that you might come across as nervous and bossy. Don’t forget that your sales team is under an equal amount of stress, and as their manager and leader, you should find it in yourself to support and empathize with them.
In other words, don’t simply issue orders as that would make you a bad sales manager. Find some time to talk to your team members and hear how they feel about the whole thing. Let them share their concerns and don’t perceive them only through a professional lens. Don’t forget a personal aspect, and treat them like human beings too.
It’s very likely that they won’t reach out to you in case they’re upset, and under a lot of stress, so it’s up to you to open the lines of communication and tell them you understand how they feel.
And since you’ll maybe have to deliver some not so good news, make sure to do so in a tactful manner. It will be a lot easier for your team members if you explain to them what the company is going through, and convince them that you’re proactively looking for a solution.
2. Don’t Waste Your Time on What You Can’t Control
In times of crisis, people usually feel overwhelmed and powerless.
But it’s even more disheartening if you start focusing on the things that are beyond your control. It’s much more constructive to see where you stand and use all your assets and resources to fix things that are under your control.
For example, you shouldn’t dwell on how long the pandemic will last and the fact that you might lose some of your customers. Instead of that, regroup, try exploring new prospecting avenues, and come up with the best ways for staying afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.
What You Should Do After the Crisis
Once the crisis is behind you, it’s time to acknowledge its effects on your business.
1. Make a Recap and Create a Detailed Report
It would be a huge mistake to not analyze the crisis, your actions, and the aftermath, as this report will provide you with a valuable source of information for future reference.
Besides that, what you should do is talk to your team members again and answer all their questions.
Don’t forget to thank them for their hard work and patience, and provide recognition to those who went out of their way to help you and other team members successfully overcome the crisis.
2. Set New Goals
Every crisis leaves scars, and it’s only logical that it will take time until your organization and your sales team go back to normal.
In order to speed up the recovery process, analyze your current situation, and set new goals, adjusted to the new reality.
This approach will help you motivate your team again and make a fresh start towards success.
Crisis management is something that can make or break your business. If you have a well-thought-out plan, the odds are that your organization will emerge from a crisis even stronger than before. However, if you downplay a potential crisis and fail to prepare for it in advance, you can jeopardize not only the success of your company but also its survival.