With the end of 2020 — a complicated year in many ways — expectations of better times to come have been renewed. However, the timing still calls for some caution, as one of the only things we know about 2021 is that it will be a year full of challenges. In this context, the sales leader plays an even more relevant role for the company.
Changing the calendar year is always good for reviewing mistakes, re-planning and aligning strategies, but this time it was a little different. 2021, in fact, has arrived, but it still has many “backlogs” from the previous year.
We still have a long way to go before the Covid-19 pandemic recedes significantly and the country’s economy begins to show signs of recovery. To better manage their team in this scenario, the sales leader must look at the 2020 learnings and focus on improving the behaviors that were fundamental for survival in the period.
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The challenges are numerous and range from the need to lead and motivate the team from a distance to closely monitor the results and make the necessary adjustments according to circumstances. In this article, we’ll talk a little more about the economic situation and bring up some important points regarding the sales leader’s performance in 2021.
The crisis scenario shows that 2021 will be of great challenges
According to data released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), inflation closed 2020 at 4.52%, the highest since 2016. The Broad Consumer Price Index (IPCA) was driven by the rise in food, housing and articles of residence.
In addition, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had a very significant drop. According to the Central Bank bulletin (Focus Report) of January 11, the forecast is for a decline of 4.36% in 2020. And 2021, what will it be like?
Well, the first quarter of the year should still be very difficult for the economy. Largely because the government’s vaccination plan indicates that it will take more than a year for the entire population to be immunized.
Therefore, in the meantime, given the absence of more restrictive measures and the “tiredness” of the population in relation to social isolation, transmissions should continue to increase. The end of emergency aid should also have a negative impact in these first months of the year and the expectation is that unemployment will continue to grow.
This means that, even though financial market specialists are predicting a 3.41% increase in GDP in 2021, we will face many challenges until all sectors are able to demonstrate a good recovery and the situation, as a whole, improves.
What is the role of the sales leader in this context?
The importance of leadership in the sales process is indisputable. It is a fact that to be successful, a sales team needs effective management, that is, a sales leader capable of guiding salespeople to achieve the expected results.
We’ve already talked about the characteristics of a good manager and brought tips on how to be a successful leader. However, the truth is that in 2020 all these professionals were challenged to deal with a situation they had never experienced before, which, in addition to hitting the economy and sales in full, was also very challenging for everyone in personal terms.
Sales leaders had to face issues such as downsizing, spending cuts, changes in consumer behavior and even the mental health of salespeople. And that’s just to mention a few situations that the sales leader faced throughout the year.
How the sales leader can manage successfully in 2021
In view of all this, in order not to drop the shuttlecock, the sales leader had to adapt, shape and, in certain cases, even reinvent himself. This new way of acting required the development of some behaviors that, in 2021, will continue to be essential for running the boat.
Empathy to deal with the team
As we mentioned, the pandemic moved people a lot, both because of the need for social isolation and the home office, as well as the direct or indirect losses suffered. In addition, many professionals had to completely change their routine with their children at home.
In this context, the commercial manager needed to develop greater empathy with the team. So, in addition to showing more understanding of personal matters, he can also find ways to help salespeople better organize their day-to-day work.
Lead and motivate in person or at a distance
Remote work brought a series of challenges and remote management certainly requires another type of attitude from the sales leader. However, given the forecasts, at least for the first half of the year, developing aspects of leadership in this regard will be essential.
In addition to not losing control of the team and the progress of sales, the manager must always be focused on motivating the team’s professionals, even if far away. Holding regular meetings, both individually and collectively, is very important, as is the use of motivational strategies.
Relationship with sellers and customers
What we’ve talked about so far indicates that the sales leader must be careful to maintain a good relationship with his team. And not just that: customer relationships have become even more important.
Designing strategies to create a sense of partnership and closeness — in times of distance — can yield great results. And you can’t forget that this relationship needs to be “cared for” at all stages of the sales process.
Take care of yourself to be able to face what’s next
Of course, it wasn’t just the team that felt the effects of the pandemic and the crisis on mental health. The sales leader also needs to take care of his own health, physical and mental, to keep up with the year ahead.
Getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising and having leisure time (even if reading a book or watching a series at home) are essential factors in this regard.
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Results monitoring and ability to adapt
It is not enough to elaborate a super business plan if the tasks and results are not monitored weekly. More than ever, in the face of an economically unfavorable scenario, this control has become essential.
That way, at any sign that the plan isn’t working, it’s possible to quickly adapt the strategy and reverse the bad results before it’s too late.
Attention to the external scenario and strategic vision to succeed in 2021
As it is still a year of many uncertainties, 2021 will require the sales leader to be very attentive, not only in relation to his team but also to events and how they can impact sales. In addition, looking outside is also a crucial exercise to identify hot markets to prospect and even new business opportunities