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How Sales Leaders Can Make the Switch in Sales During a Pandemic

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 4/27/20 7:15 AM

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When I no longer had to share a room with my sister I was excited - now I can arrange my room exactly the way I wanted it

The problem was I couldn't decide exactly how I wanted it.

And so every couple of weeks my mother would come running up the stairs when she heard me dragging my furniture across the room because I wanted to see how it would be different this way or that way.

This continued into my teens and even as an adult, when things stay static for too long I feel the need to shake them up. There was something about the feeling of waking up in a room that felt completely different, like I was at a different place and I was a different person with it.

This blessing/curse makes me look forward to change, which means I have to work on being content. My natural reaction is to find a way to make something better than it was. Whether you see change as an opportunity or a threat all depends on how you see yourself as part of it.

For most of us, change is scary and hard. It brings with it uncertainty and self doubt. Should I do this? Can I do this? How will it impact me or those around me? Because I usually see change as an opportunity, or a new adventure, it's sometimes difficult to understand why others freak out over the slightest changes.

But when my youngest son was diagnosed with Asbergers, a high functioning form of autism, I had to learn fast how to help him manage change. Switch Book Cover

One of the books that was a huge help was Switch; 

How to Change When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath.

I read it years ago, but recently picked it up again. If you haven't already read this book, now is a good time to. Especially if you're leading a team of people, or even just one person (and that person might just be yourself). Of course when change is thrust upon us without warning like this pandemic has done to everyone, the fear and uncertainty gets heightened a thousand fold.

Yet it is those who do the hard things, the ones that change and make pivots, are the ones who create more value and will gain market share.

But as this book reveals, change happens not because of logic (at least not by itself), but because of emotions. Which means it is more important than ever to motivate, coach, and keep sales teams accountable. By building your team up, you are giving them the strength to take action. By helping them to identify the small wins and showing recognition in a way that they prefer, you are building up the self confidence to take on more challenges and changes.

To accomplish the type of motivation, coaching, training, and accountability you need to help your sales teams adjust to the necessary changes we are all facing, this book gives some simple advice. It uses the metaphor of a rider on an elephant who is trying to get it to move down a path. 

The rider is our logical, rational mind- the one that makes plans. But the elephant is our emotions, the thing that motivates us to move, or stops us from taking a single step. And the path is our environment. 

In a sales context, to direct the rider in our sales people we must give clear direction and communication on the first step to take, and the subsequent steps after that. This will reduce the mental stress and decision paralysis that they have when they need to make a decision. This might be what companies to prospect into, an outline of what to say, and advice on how to structure their days while working from home.

To motivate the elephant in sellers, as  sales leaders we need to connect the emotional reason why they need to take these steps. If you have already laid the groundwork of helping them identify their own personally meaningful goals, you are already a step ahead. If you haven’t done this yet, check out this article for a 5 step process proven to help more people achieve their goals. 

When you think about how to shape the path, the objective here is to remove the obstacles that might be in the path and help momentum to increase. If the path is all uphill people are going to tire quickly of every single step they have to take because it's harder than it should be. Simple is better. What you see as laziness, might just be mental exhaustion.

This is not only a book for sales leaders and entrepreneurs, but also for sellers because we need to do the same with potential buyers. We are all in a state of unexpected and immediate change. If you can do this for yourself, you will become a valuable asset to your buyers.

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Topics: book review, sales books