How to Win at Sales During Disruption

Calling this pandemic a “disruption” for your sales team is an understatement, now that almost 90% of sales have moved to digital channels. Handshakes are a thing of the past, conferences have gone online, and now the whole organization can read what you’re posting to #watercooler—all these changes can have a real impact on the morale and performance of your sales team.

Even though ThoughtExchange has been an all-remote workplace from day one, we’ve often relied on our in-person interactions with colleagues and customers to move our business goals forward. When the pandemic restrictions hit, we found ourselves—like many sales and marketing teams—quickly adapting to our now entirely virtual working environment. So what’s a sales team to do?   

At our recent event Start Fast, Finish Strong: How to Keep the Momentum Going, our own CRO Jayme Smithers and Sales Enablement Manager Jessica Livingstone shared their tips for keeping your sales momentum going in a distributed work world. Read on to learn how they did it.

Do you know your challenges?

For us at ThoughtExchange, making sure we have the right tools in our tech stack has made all the difference when it comes to virtual sales enablement. And (surprise!) the tool we use most often to ensure that we’re on the pulse of what’s happening with our sales team is ThoughtExchange. 

During our event, Jayme ran an Exchange—that’s where we use ThoughtExchange in real time to ask attendees open-ended questions and get their honest, no-holds-barred responses—asking what people feel their biggest sales challenges will be moving forward. 

Maybe some of these responses will sound familiar:

  •  “I’m afraid that our team members will start operating in silos and collaboration will decline rapidly.”
  • “Alignment – how do we know our strategy is on point?”
  • “How do we ensure development continues to happen in our new reality?”

Just imagine if this was an Exchange you ran with your own workforce, we bet the insights would be eye-opening.  

In just a few minutes during a virtual meeting, we can hear from everyone in attendance and use real-time analytics to quickly prioritize our next steps. With the team’s candid feedback, we can build a path that ensures they have what they need to execute on strategy. 

All to say: you need to know your team’s challenges to get the best results. Alignment at the beginning of the year is easy, but if leaders fail to catch misalignment before it happens—that’s an expensive fix. Just like Jayme did, leaders can use ThoughtExchange to quickly zero in on their workforces’ needs and barriers to success, all at scale.  

How sharp is your focus?

Let’s be honest, “focused” is hardly the best descriptor for most meetings. Often, the people with the best ideas keep quiet, and the people who have the most to say tend to dominate the conversation. Meeting fatigue is a real thing, and so is Zoom fatigue. To keep your team sharp, you need to ensure that you’re getting to the point, quickly.

Sharpening your focus means having fewer meetings that accomplish more. You’ve probably already got a meeting cadence in place—whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly—and you just need the tech that’s going to help you optimize your time and your team’s performance.

We often start our meetings with an Exchange to see where everyone’s at. We ask them questions like:

  • What is getting in the way of you being more successful right now?
  • What are the most important things we can do to ensure we meet and exceed our revenue targets next quarter?
  • What do you want leadership to understand as plans are being made for the coming year?

We’re able to quickly and easily uncover and share winning tactics with the whole team at each meeting. It also means we can source nuanced ideas that address complex problems from the people on the front lines of our organization.

Are you asking the right questions? 

According to author John C. Maxwell, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, Maxwell reminds us that, “successful leaders don’t only take action. Good leaders listen, learn, and then lead.”

Waiting on your team to bring their challenges to you won’t maintain sales momentum; instead, it places the burden on the individual to admit where they’re questioning themselves. Asking your sales team great questions will help you quickly uncover your greatest areas of success and your biggest points of friction.

A great question to ask your sales team might be, “What are the 1-3 key factors that have helped you consistently hit your quota?” 

By running an Exchange, you’re making sure everyone’s perspective is included in the discussion. Because we’ve built anonymity and anti-bias technology into our platform, your team can feel more comfortable sharing their candid thoughts. They can also read each other’s thoughts and rate an idea based on its merit—not on who’s sharing it. 

Once everyone’s had a chance to participate, ThoughtExchange does the work of surfacing top-rated comments and questions and sorts them into handy themes. Exchange Leaders can then share the results in a slick slideshow format or follow up with teams with a PDF report.

We’ve worked with leaders who have increased performance and aligned their organizations during one of the most challenging times in recent history. By consistently using ThoughtExchange to scale discussions with their teams and their entire organization, leaders have improved their culture, collaboration, and results in 2020 and beyond.

Keep your sales momentum strong

Forward-thinking leaders know that keeping their teams talking is key to keeping their sales momentum going throughout 2021, especially in the virtual workplace. 

You need to know the individual and collective challenges your sales team is facing to find solutions. You need to keep your meetings focused and set a regular cadence for asking your team the right questions so that no one’s left behind or dragged along. And you need to use the right tech for scaling discussions—the way you communicate will make the difference between maintaining and exceeding your annual sales meeting goals.

You’ve already got a team of expert minds who hold insights and strategies for better performance—all you need to do now is ask them.

About the Author

Meghan MacRae

Meghan was raised by an English teacher, thus she found a way to incorporate her instinct for grammar and spelling into her career. She honed her corporate writing skills in clothing companies and the music industry, and brings a passion for creativity and playful wordsmithing to her work at ThoughtExchange. When she’s not crafting language that brings people together, she’s reading a thesaurus, playing Uno with her kids, cooking and singing and dancing, and collecting vinyl and art.