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6 Proven Traits That Help Sales Leaders In Times Of Crisis

Company leaders are facing a crisis. According to, Breathehr nearly one-fifth (20%) of workers don't trust their senior leaders and management. Now with this pandemic, that trust is wavering even more. Many sales leaders are failing to foster a sense of confidence and loyalty in their employees. Fortunately, that does not have to be the case. Sales leaders who show great leadership qualities can inspire their teams to accomplish amazing things. Here are six traits that a great sales leader possesses in a time of crisis.

The Courage To Be Transparent

One of the best ways to win the trust of your team is by being transparent. According to, Breathehr "of the 20% of employees who didn't trust their managers, 50% blamed their mindsets on a lack of transparency." Instead of hiding information, you should openly ask for ideas, share wins, losses, and challenges with your team. You need to have the courage to be transparent with your team and decision-making process. You need to be able to seek better data and share it with your team.

Transparency with your team will ensure everyone has the information they need to do their jobs successfully. While it can be challenging to reveal that you and the company had a bad month or quarter, keeping your team in "the know" maintains confidence in your leadership and the organization. More importantly, it gives your team clarity, autonomy to make decisions, and makes them feel more empowered while keeping them engaged.

Emotional Intelligence

Great sales leaders can control their emotions, which prevents negative emotions from influencing their decision-making skills. As an emotionally intelligent sales leader, you can be empathic to understand your team's point of view, see their emotions and care about the feelings of others.

You can understand and sympathize with your teams' challenges, but don't go as far as empathizing with them and wallowing in all the loss. You need to keep a clear head and not get so invested in the losses that you loose your composure.

When you have this trait, you can connect better with your team and customers. Being calm, breeds calmness, and chaos breeds chaos. Choosing calmness in times of crisis sets a strong example for your team to follow.

Neutral Mindset

A neutral mindset means that you keep a long-term view of your goals and put the requisite effort into every day to ensure success. It also means accepting the idea that when something good or bad happens, it just happens. Instead of getting caught up in the negativity of it all, you can keep your team on track. Being negative will cause your team to feel negative and thus perform poorly. If you don't believe something can happen, you'll be right 100% of the time.

Being too optimistic and setting a “perfect” date when things will be "back to a new normal" isn't good because if "things" aren't back to a new normal by that day, you run the risk of crushing morale. Nothing breaks the human spirit faster than unmet expectations in uncertain times. When you have a neutral mindset, you can do one more thing, one more time, and things will happen.

You help your team realize they can't control what happens, but they can control how they react. The same thing can be said about thinking. They can control how they think, how to face reality and keep moving forward. It's an infinite mindset that allows you to set your mind around hard work and effort instead of hard emotions. Mindsets shape the lives we lead, the actions we take, and the future possibilities of the world in which we live.

Reset Expectations

Motivation is a term often thrown around. It's also one of the hardest things to bestow to your team. If you're team is lacking in self-motivation, you must reset the expectations and demonstrate it with a great work ethic. By setting this example, you will give them the inspiration they need to be self-motivated, especially in a crisis.

Leading through action and following through on the commitments gives your team faith, trust, and hope, which allows for them to latch onto something. Setting the pace and clear expectations are key motivators that influence people to reach their goals. You, as a great sales leader, should set a good example to ensure your team can grow and achieve their goals effectively.

Great Communication Skills

Communication is a core sales leadership function. It's even more critical in times of crisis. It can improve the way that you and your team operate through life’s challenges. It ensures your team has the knowledge they need on any given project or goal. It allows for clear and concise expectations throughout your organization.

Although face-to-face communication is the most straight-forward way of discussing topics with your team, it's not always an option. With more companies being remote during this pandemic, you have to be flexible with your tools and careful with the words you choose. Take the time to decide if an email, call, or chat message is the best way to get your message across. A good rule to follow to ensure proper communication - only share data via email and texts. You'll want to pick up the phone or video conference for all communications that could be possibly misconstrued or have urgency.

As a great sales leader, you need to make sure you call your team often and remind them don't hesitate to call you. It will encourage your team to be more open and transparent with you. This is particularly important with remote teams. Check out our blog on, "Is Your Remote Sales Team Feeling Disconnected?" for more tips on working remotely.

Improvisation 

Sales leaders like you who improvise can think and influence others to create new and better ideas to move towards positive results. They take the time to quickly analyze trends and see the rapid evolution of a marketplace's needs and then creatively respond to them.

You used to have a few weeks to perform original research, study the data, and take the time to find something of value. Now, you will see shifts in days and need to pivot quickly. Your job as the leader is to see the bigger picture for your team and organization and also be agile in the near future.

Great sales leaders during a crisis find the balance between business foresight, performance, and character. Great sales leaders have transparency, courage, a neutral mindset, sympathy, and improvise based on trends. They also can think strategically and act tactility while accelerating cooperation amongst their team.

About Steve Hoeft

Steve is a Partner, VP Client Services at Pivotal Advisors. Leadership has been forefront in his career for over 20 years. He has also been a Vice President of Sales for a number of companies in Minnesota. Steve has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Sales Leaders Roundtable, Trust Vets, Marine Corps Events and more. If you want to find out more about Steve check out his profile here.
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