How to Win in Crunch Time - 4 Tips for When the Going Gets Tough Blog Feature
Steve Bookbinder

By: Steve Bookbinder on July 30th, 2015

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How to Win in Crunch Time - 4 Tips for When the Going Gets Tough

manager | Sales Management

Let’s face the facts - no matter how well your team performs under “normal” circumstances, “crunch time” can and will rear its ugly head! There are times when situations beyond your control require you to adapt immediately to what’s at hand.

Your ability to guide your team to victory in that kind of environment is a litmus test.

It’s much easier to perform well when conditions are to your liking, but the best managers know how to get the best out of their teams when the going gets tough. Here are some tips to make that happen:

1. Panic is not a game plan!


Quite often, managers, especially newer ones, freak out when “all hell breaks loose.” Panic is contagious. Almost immediately, the entire team is running around with their hair on fire because the manager is too.

Trying to win in the midst of self-induced chaos is just a bad idea! Managers need to remain calm, but project a resolute attitude that says, “not only will we get through this, but we’re going to WIN.” A positive and proactive message in the face of demanding business conditions is a must.

2. Be ready before crunch time arrives.

Anticipating “rough seas” before they arrive takes consistent effort and it pays enormous dividends.  This exercise will help generate an “emergency plan” that can be deployed at the critical moment it’s needed. And it beats having to come up with something “new and different” once crunch time has arrived.

Team members will also appreciate the fact that there’s a game plan ready to go when things get rocky. Managers who can conceive of and execute emergency plans generate tremendous respect from their teams.

3. Share the pressure with all members of the team.

No one should be spared the “pain” when crunch time arrives. It’s actually an opportunity to bring team members closer together.

No member of the team should feel that he/she is bearing an unfair or unreasonable amount of the pressure—that’s a surefire prescription for undermining a manager’s credibility and diminishing team morale. Since everyone’s an adult, there’s no good reason to shield anyone from the demands that the team is facing—think of this as a “growth exercise” for all!

4. Declare victory and celebrate the win!

There needs to be a clear and positive signal that the team has prevailed. Crunch time should never feel as if it goes on forever.

Giving everyone a chance to feel good about what the team has accomplished will build confidence for the inevitable next time. Managers should be as explicit as possible as to what the victory means and what it took to make it happen. It’s a feel good moment with a very powerful message attached!

No one necessarily looks forward to crunch time, but the best managers thrive when it shows up. That takes planning, patience, courage, and solid communication skills. Those are vital elements that get tested and refined under tough circumstances. Welcome the challenge and go for the win!

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About the Author


Buff Parham is a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He believes that hard work matters and that raising the bar and having greater expectations tend to generate greater results. In his spare time, Buff finds cooking and playing golf to be two of the best therapies for a somewhat hectic existence!

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About Steve Bookbinder

Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.

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