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Guest Post: How Sales Leaders Can Handle Missed Quotas during Quarantine

Guest post by Emily Roberts, Content Associate at PandaDoc. If she’s not busy creating content in the office, she’s running on a treadmill somewhere to the sound of a true-crime podcast.

Chances are if you’re a sales leader you’re probably facing some challenges right now, both personal and professional. You might be juggling home child-care with Zoom meetings, or trying to manage your stress while the state of your industry undergoes major changes. On top of all this, you also own the difficult task of leading a team of sales professionals who are equally stressed, confused, and looking for answers. 

COVID-19 has turned lives, enterprises, and small businesses alike on their heads. The mass migration from the office to the couch has brought some sales teams closer than ever while others have been struggling to hit their number. If the current landscape of your team resembles the latter and you’re not sure why, ask yourself, “Are you setting your team up for success or failure?”

If your sales reps have been unsuccessful in crushing their quotas over the past few months, know that they’re not alone and that the question of how to handle missed quotas during a quarantine is on everyone’s mind. But, are low numbers the fault of reps and reps alone?

Sales leaders across the globe are shouldering the responsibility of missed quotas and searching for new ways to motivate and lead their respective teams to success. 

Keep reading to learn the 3 simple steps you can take to avoid missed quotas altogether by setting your reps up for success in today’s new normal

1. Make (and keep) the right hire for your team virtually

There are two ways to handle missed quotas: retroactively and proactively. Working to revamp your sales interview and hiring process with your HR team and/or recruiters to accommodate today’s remote world is a great proactive step towards finding and onboarding top talent. If the future of your organization looks like it will remain remote, you’re no longer limited to selecting from the pool of talent within your area. In fact, by offering exclusively remote positions, you’re likely to get a lot more interest in openings than usual. 

One way you can meet with these candidates remotely, while also saving time and money vetting and interviewing them, is to organize virtual hiring events. Virtual hiring events can be set up like a Zoom meeting and allow you and other leaders to speak to multiple candidates at once. This not only allows your organization to gauge candidate interest but serves as an opportunity for those in attendance to get a feel for the leadership style and company values. 

Once you’ve got top remote talent on the hook, you’ve got to seal the deal. Candidates with impressive resumes and strong interview skills who were laid off in big cities might come with a price tag. If your sales org isn’t prepared to offer a competitive offer during this time, be sure to highlight any additional incentives that your company provides. These incentives could come in the form of education stipends, an allowance to improve their home office space, free health care, etc. If you’re looking for talent closer to home, internal referrals are the perfect way to fill openings while providing a monetary incentive to your existing reps. 

One last word on hiring: expanding your talent pool to other cities is one thing, expanding it to other industries is another. Industries that have been the hardest hit are those specializing in service and hospitality. Even if a candidate doesn’t have a sales background doesn’t mean that they don’t have what it takes to crush quotas with the best of them. 

2. Coach, coach, and coach some more

Once you’ve bagged that top talent, you’ve got to do your part to make sure they live up to your expectations. Yep, that’s right, YOUR part! Even with a million things going on, it’s important to carve out time to coach each of your reps in a way they’ll respond to. Some reps prefer direct feedback while others prefer a slow-burn approach, some will want to chat about their future in sales while others will want to focus on how they can improve their pitch today. Staying agile and customizing your sessions to the needs of each rep also applies to how you address the state of the world. As easy as a small talk topic it is, some reps might be overwhelmed by COVID talk. Be considerate, tread lightly, and listen more than you speak until you have a firm grasp on things they’re ok talking about and topics that won’t lead to a productive conversation. 

All reps need coaching, regardless of their sales record.

When coaching reps who’ve recently fallen short of their quotas, don’t come to the meeting focused on the fact that they’ve only hit 10% of their number, come with ideas on how they can fulfill the remaining 90%. Remember, even your best reps might slip up during this time. Meeting with them regularly for coaching sessions will allow you to keep a pulse on their progress and identify any roadblocks, work-related or not, that might be keeping them from attaining their quota. 

3. Do your part to stay connected

Motivated reps are quota crushing reps. If your company uses Slack, consider establishing a shout-out channel where employees can give public praise to their coworkers for everything from helping out on a project to simply being a good friend and listener during this time. Even if your reps miss out on hitting their number, a quick win on the basis of their attitude, collaboration skills, etc. will add some fuel to their motivational fire.

Your options for connecting with your team after office-hours are limited, but the occasional Zoom Happy Hour or morning coffee talk can provide the perfect forum for valuable team bonding. Take these moments as an opportunity to notice if anyone on your team is exhibiting signs of burn-out. Burn-out inevitably leads to missed quotas, and one of the best preventative measures to take against burn-out is vacationing. Lead by example, take days off, and celebrate the courage it takes to recognize when you’re in need of a long weekend to recharge.

Patience is a virtue, and it’s important to practice it now more than ever. This is a new playing field for all sales teams and there’s not a single one that’s made the transition to remote work without a hitch. By making the best hire, offering consistent, personalized sales coaching, and creating an environment of support and connection you’ll lay the foundation for a quota crushing sales team.

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