Covid-19, Sales and the digital workplace

To say that selling is a stressful job is an understatement. No matter how much a salesperson crushes the numbers, a new month, new quarter, or new financial year always rushes in, and before you know it, you are back to square one. It’s a stressful and rewarding job, highlighting the need for stress management, especially during a global pandemic.

Sales during a global pandemic

I can certainly admit that I work on weekends and, with the world around us turned on its head, I have placed an increased focus on balancing work and life by exercising, playing sports, and reading even though I struggle to switch off. I am the first to admit that sales during a global pandemic introduced new challenges, stressing the need for innovative selling methods that empower us to cross the chasm from face-to-face selling to online relationship building, nurturing, and closing.

While many of us have worked remotely for several months now, this has always been the norm for others with ever-improving technology, such as Microsoft Teams, empowering us to collaborate, innovate and close, no matter the place or timezone.

Here are some pros and cons I have learned from working remotely in the last couple of months:

The Pro’s

  • Teams is a foundational platform, regardless of whether I am working face-to-face or remotely.
  • Teams enables me as a salesperson to cross borders, time zones, and COVID restrictions and still engage with my colleagues, clients, and prospects.
  • Microsoft has a range of applications, such as Microsoft Relationship Saleswhich enables relationship building through intelligent social selling.
  • By applying the tools available to me, I can ensure that I am in the know-how and am kept up to date with my current and future accounts and prospects, continuously building relationships and strategies.
  • In terms of time management, I have become more efficient, working on my schedule instead of a clock, and with less micro-management.
  • I have found that my productivity has increased by over 30% allowing me to be more focused on my daily responsibilities and duties.
  • I have seen a significant increase in transparency across various teams within Mint which has kept me in the loop with a simple @mention

The Cons

  • My biggest stumbling block is knowing when to walk away from my laptop as remote work no longer confines me to the traditional eight-hour day, stressing the need to focus on physical and mental health and find balance.
  • I used to rely on face-to-face communication with my clients and prospects to gauge situations, build trust and nurture value-driven relationships.
  • As a salesperson, in-person events used to be a significant driver of collaboration with my current accounts as well as nurturing and introduction to prospects. As such, I had to learn to use the power of technology, such as the Microsoft Relationship Sales application, to connect, engage and advise digitally.

Building a remote company culture

Successfully selling amid the new normal and meeting my performance indicators would not be possible without a company that is supportive and innovative during the new normal we find ourselves in.

Many of us are struggling with loneliness. The same number find it difficult with collaboration and communication online while only a small percentage are reporting challenges staying focused on the job at hand. The question remains: Do employers understand the value of employee motivation during this period of uncertainty and stress?

In a study from the Global Corona Virus Disease Council (CDC), an overwhelmingly small percentage of employers have adopted measures to communicate to their employees about how to handle:

  • Job stress
  • Depression
  • Work and personal life balance
  • When to take breaks from work to stretch, exercise, or check in with your supportive colleagues, coworkers, family, and friends.
  • Mindfulness techniques

Mint Group has certainly exercised and proven its success in adopting the above measures. Our esteemed leadership team led by the group CEO, Carel Du Toit, adopted the simplest yet most effective employee wellness communication initiatives called “Daily Check-in” and “Virtual Coffee Check-in”. This initiative drives collaboration with coworkers to discuss topics such as (but not limited to):

  • Taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Always hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting and mentally exhausting.
  • Connecting with others. Talk with colleagues we trust about our concerns, how we are feeling, or how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us.
  • Connecting with colleagues through phone calls, email, text messages, WhatsApp, including various social media channels.
  • Checking in with each other to helping others improve our sense of control, belonging, and self-esteem.
  • Lastly, to look for safe ways to offer social support to others, especially if they are showing signs of stress, such as depression and anxiety.

In summary, changing the way people do their work is not a question about switching from one technology to another; it is about changing the behaviour of people. As a salesperson, I had to change my mindset, utilise the tools available to me and ensure that I continue to build value-driven relationships and serve as a technology advisor in the online world.

For many, this remote behaviour, habits, or style of work, have been ingrained over decades. As such, it is naïve to think that it can be done overnight without any effort. However, Mint has invested the time and has put in the effort – the rewards are starting to be enormous!

A dynamic, non-hierarchical, technologically advanced company like Mint has successfully adopted the “work from home or Online” culture with great success and with few transition pains. The key to success is that all levels of management, including staff, were open to change. Mint’s objective is clear:

  • Protecting and empowering our employees
  • Meeting our clients’ core needs
  • Establishing business continuity
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