Logo - Full (Color)
Skip to content

Episode 3: How to Help Your Sales Team Stay Productive During a Time of Change

1080x1080 (1)According to Bryan Elsesser, the former Sr. Director of Sales at Aircall, 71% of salespeople are fatigued this year. Fatigue is a difficult problem to address, especially on a team where metrics are so important, but it’s not impossible. After landing in sales development, Brian now focuses on the earlier stages of the sales cycle -- identifying and connecting with leads. He talks about what he’s learned managing his sales team and how you can help your own sales team stay productive during a time of change.

Listen Now


Read: 71% of Employees are Fatigued: How Aircall Still Boosts Sales Productivity

Episode Transcription

As a sales leader, you’re not only in charge of things like hitting revenue goals, it’s your job to help your team with things like time management. You know, so they can avoid that crippling thing we all collectively referred to as burnout these days?

Enter stage right, Brian Elsesser.

[ELSESSER: Hello, everyone. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. My name's Brian Elsesser.]

Brian’s the former senior director of sales development at AirCall -- a 100% cloud-based phone system that works with sales and support teams to help them be more productive and more efficient on a daily basis.

Brian’s spent over ten years in sales and two of those years as a frontline rep, getting his hands dirty before taking up the cape and cowl and becoming a sales leader.

Landing in sales development, Brian focuses on the earlier stages of the sales cycle -- identifying and connecting with leads. We talk about what he’s learned managing his sales team and how you can help your own sales team stay productive during a time of change.

Ok. Let’s get into it.

[cue synth]

BROWN: So Brian, maybe let’s start with burnout. What does burnout mean to you?

[ELSESSER: Burnout is both physiological and psychological. It is something that's affecting our teams on a daily basis and now it always has. But now with us working from home, it couldn't be more enhanced than it's ever been before. It's on us to identify this in our teams. It's on us to look for the signs and symptoms that are going to call out to us that we need to take action and do something today before it's too late.

Before we lose the interest or the production of our teams. Some things to keep in mind when you're talking about burnout, burnout is absolutely something we can control. It is something we can control because it's all mostly related to time. How are you spending your time? Where are you spending your time? What is going on at that time? It's all related.

So, if you, as a manager, the leader of time management needs to set the tone and need to have the tools in your back pocket to go to market and help your team feel like they are able to handle the time that's in front of them and take the time to be healthy and contributors to your overall process.]

BROWN: I think that’s so true. And you mentioned how managers are the leaders of time management. Can you tell me more about how exactly sales leaders can monitor burnout on their team?

[ELSESSER: Managing is really hard is that it's absolutely hard because it's not something that you can just plug in a cord into the side of your human and say, okay, how burnt out are they? You need to actually get them to verbalize it. So I give you some examples of things that I've done with my team. The first one and foremost right away, I actually just sent out a wellness survey to my team, talking about things like stress, things about fatigue, sleep, muscle soreness.

All of these different things, they're subjective answers, but they all contribute to the overall burnout. When you can get an idea of some of the subjective inputs of your team and around their feelings about how they actually feel through the size of their own body. And you can take that and put it against their performance metrics -- How have they been putting out in terms of a goal against their activities? You're going to start seeing correlations, especially over time.

So the very first and foremost thing that you can do is go get an idea of what your team's burnout level is from there. Get into your one-on-ones. Start talking to your people, ask them what's happening.

And if you're asking open-ended questions and you have that relationship with the members of your team, which I hope you do that you can ask those questions, you should be able to start getting ideas around who is saying what and an anonymous survey. And so then you now have a tool in which you can, can take individual performance ideas, excuse me, performance outputs, and match it to the subjective feelings.

You can start mapping this and it's all based on numbers, the same way our performance is. If you can get a quantitative idea. So a wellness survey, for instance, that's based upon on a scale of one to 10, how fatigued do you feel? Right. You're going to have a number that you can correlate those performance numbers to, and it's going to get you a place to start looking at where can I start making an impact on my team? What can I help them do in order to achieve more time, more freedom, more management over their day to be more productive and less burnt out.]

[cue synth]

BROWN: So Brian, I’m wondering about balance. Right? The balance between empathy and results. Because the two can often seem at odds with one another. What is that balance in today’s environment?

[ELSESSER: There is a balance, right? There's a balance between the goal that you have to hit. And the amount of empathy that you have to show your team. Um, but I don't see them as mutually exclusive.

And I, and I'll tell you why. Because if you're doing you, if you're doing your job right, as a director, the only way in which you ever operate is in that vein of thinking about your team, you're thinking about their day today, you're thinking about the world they're living in, they're you thinking about everything that they have going on in their job?

And you're saying, okay, what is it that I can do to help them? And so I think that's actually the answer. Is that there isn't a balance. It's what can you do to assist your team? And is that assisting their environment that they're working in? Do they have the right setup? Do they have the right space?

Are you, they have the right, the tools and things to be successful, or they have a comfortable, comfortable workspace to work in. Okay. Those are all the things you can control. Are you helping them be successful in the actual job? Are you getting your hands dirty? No matter what level, VPC level down to the individual contributor are you getting your hands dirty with the day today?

I myself, today, I was doing well digging for low-hanging fruit in Salesforce, looking for great opportunities to go and serve to my team and say, Hey, look, don't forget about this one. Hey, this one seems like it's the right time. Go and do the work. Get in there. If you're a frontline manager, are you on the phone? Are you coaching with your team? Are you giving them that feedback and not just getting and giving feedback, but getting feedback as well. Are you asking the questions that are necessary to understand what's happening in their world?

Everything matters. And the balance is not that there's been this new balance between empathy and performance. It's that you're being mindful more than ever, that you're dealing with humans on your team.]

BROWN: I think that’s so important, being mindful of the fact that your team is made up of people, not just some robots out hunting numbers. Because performance is a big factor here. I’m wondering, how does enablement play a role in productivity?

[ELSESSER: 67% of sales leaders say that productivity has either stayed the same or increased this year. It makes sense. Right? We're at home, we're focused. We're dialed in. Okay. My question is actually to that other 30, some odd percent.

What are you doing with your team? Where are you spending your time when you're coaching them? Are you helping them enable themselves and get themselves outside of their comfort zone or outside of their box? Are you, are you giving them a different direction, or are sending them down the rabbit hole of some kind that is not actually translating into productivity or performance?

Everything results from leadership. And it's a top-down thing. So when you give a direction, you got to know that that direction is in line with that performance, with that environment. And I would venture to guess that some of that 33%, that isn't feeling like their team is actually making that productivity stride in a remote environment has a lot to do with them, not feeling comfortable, managing in a remote environment.]

[cue synth]

BROWN: So Brian, for our final segment here, I was hoping we could talk about a certain number. And that’s 65%. So 65% of sales leaders who exceeded revenue targets this year had a dedicated sales enablement team or lead. Is that something you and the folks over at Aircall also have?

[ELSESSER: 65% of sales teams that over-performed this year say they had a dedicated sales enablement person to help them get there. AirCall has just that we have a team of sales with sales enablement experts that help us do this as well. But I would be, I would be lying if I told you that being a sales enablement expert, wasn't everyone's job to begin with.]

BROWN: Oh, interesting.

[ELSESSER: You got to find the enablement ways. And what I mean by that is that if you're in the front lines, you're in the trenches and you're doing the job every single day. No one knows. Better than you on. What's going to take for you to help those deals down the funnel. And you need to be able to verbalize that straight up.

You need to be able to have that conversation with that team. That's helping you be enabled. So everyone is the enablement professional. It's not just one term for one team's job.]

Brown: That’s so interesting. Ok, so connect some dots for me here. How does enablement play a role in productivity?

[ELSESSER: Sales enablement at AirCall is absolutely that tool enablement, that collateral creation element, content creation element that helps our teams be effective in selling.

But it's also the leadership going out and spending time on training on soft skills, things like just the basics, qualification, discovery, negotiation. It's also about relationship building and teaching those skills soft skills. It's not just one person's job. So whereas the sales enablement team focuses on the content or focuses on tools or focuses on the things that a tangibly, the sales team touches in the day-to-day to help these deals down.

Enablement also is a job description requirement of every other leader in the org to help those teams get the skills, get the pieces that it takes to win these deals… At the end of the day, you have to remember this. You could be B2B, you could be B2C, but today we are all human to human. And in this environment, nothing matters more. If you're going after making that sale, you need to be thinking of your buyer. You need to be thinking about not what they want and what they need.

You need to be thinking about the environment they're living in today, and what does it take in order for you to stand out and be different? Don't be sales-y. Don't be the salesperson. Don't be pitching. You need to be speaking with people and connecting with them on a human basis. If you're a leader, you have a job.

You have a responsibility to be thinking about your team at a human level. What is going on in your team's world, what matters, keep and perspective. That's what's going to be the differentiator for the rest of 2020, well into 2021 and beyond.

BROWN: Well, Brian, I just want to say thank you and I’m sure everyone listening right now does too, including you, the person hearing this podcast right now, some might say my favorite listener. But, thank you.

[ELSESSER: Thanks so much for joining us today. Thanks for investing in yourself and spending the time.]

[cue end synth]