Bridging the communication gap between sellers and leaders during COVID-19

by brett zalaski - Founder, Empowerment of a salesperson and Founder and head trainer at get after it sales | May 20, 2020

Over the first few weeks of COVID-19 quarantine life I spoke with more than 60 #sportsbiz sales reps and I also spoke with dozens of my friends in leadership positions for #sportsbiz teams.

The story was not the same.

Many conversations with the leadership group included things like, “This is crazy, but we believe we have a good plan.”

Most of the conversations with the sales reps included things like, “This is crazy, this is terrifying, and no one is telling me what I’m supposed to do. Am I going to lose my job? I heard other teams are laying people off. I don’t make nearly enough money anyway. How do I live if I’m not getting any commission?”

It became clear to me that there is often a gap between leaders and those sellers on the front lines.

So what should leaders do? What should sales reps do?

Leaders: Over-communicate your plans. Over-communicate your conversations with senior management. Over-communicate your expectations right now. Connecting on Zoom while wearing your favorite superhero outfit is a fun break…but it doesn’t calm your reps deepest, darkest fears and help them sleep better at night. Make sure your communication is both clear to the group, as well as each person individually. Doing it In a group is OK, but individual interaction and personal communication is better.

Sales Reps: Do everything your management asks of you and more. Make the calls, make some cool videos that help sell and try and make some sales if you can. Go to the webinars, read the books and when your team does Zoom training, show your leadership and contribute. Show your management team that you are a valuable employee…and an even better teammate.

Take this time to invest in yourself if you can. Read sales books and literature (like, for example, The Clubhouse or Empowerment of a Salesperson). Get in super awesome shape, connect with loved ones and maybe learn how to cook! We get a pandemic of this magnitude every 100 years…so hopefully none of us will be working when the next one hits. You may never again have this amount of time to invest in yourself…so don’t miss out on the opportunity.

If we’re all being honest with each other, leadership and sales reps, none of us really has the silver bullet to sell during this COVID-19 pandemic. We’re either guessing or reacting. That gets me to the line I’ve been using since all of this started: ‘This is either an opportunity or an excuse.’

Not over-communicating as a leader? You could be allowing anxiety to build and grow within your sales team. Best case, you’ll decay a lot of the trust you built up when you all shared the same office. Worst case? You’ll be a cause of anxiety growing in other people and that can be a really tough cross to bear.

Not being proactive as a salesperson? From someone who has struggled with anxiety myself, I’m telling you that you’re opening the doors here. You’re either sitting, stewing or avoiding and in turn you’re letting anxiety grow…or you’re not going to give it a chance.

‘This is either an opportunity or an excuse.’ For both leadership and sales reps, it’s as simple as that.

Brett

Brett Zalaski is the Founder of Empowerment of a Salesperson which is a site committed to arming salespeople and sales managers with the knowledge they need to succeed personally and professionally and achieve long lasting success in the sports business and beyond. He's also the Founder and Head Trainer at Get After It Sales where he provides sales training and consulting to sports teams and properties. Beyond that, he also is an advocate of the #SameHere Global Mental Health movement and part of the #SameHere Solutions alliance to help provide mental health services and support to the sports business industry. You can connect with Brett on LinkedIn here.