The year 2021 is the year of the remote. As if it is not challenging enough to manage a sales team in a single room, try doing it with your team members in different locations, and you have yourself a very daunting task.
After the U.S. government announced a lockdown in 2020, 70% of all employees stayed away from their offices and began to work from home, according to an Owl Labs report. Giants in the business like Twitter, Google, Facebook, and Apple all announced that their employees no longer have to report physically to their offices. Many more companies with work-from-home capabilities followed suit.
The consensus is that the ease of use of technologies like Zoom, Skype, Viber, and Google Hangouts allowed employees to adapt smoothly to this new set-up. Also, people are still wary of going back to their offices because they fear the possibility of contracting the virus even as vaccines are already becoming available.
Most sales managers are trying to contend with a situation in which they do not see their subordinates physically for the first time in their careers. While 75% of all employees report being more productive working at home, sales managers have a slightly different outlook because they have more on their plates.
It is quite understandable for managers to struggle at first. The important thing to do is to learn how to adapt to what we call the new normal. Here are some of the things that can help you set up your remote team for success.
Provide the tools your team need to sell remotely
Probably the first thing to look at is, are the members of your team fully-equipped to handle remote selling? Sometimes, a landline, a cell phone, and an email will not suffice. A professional sales team needs a unified communications tool, network access hardware, sales enablement tools, and collaboration platforms to be most effective.
As face-to-face selling becomes a smaller part of the mix, companies are bolstering their infrastructure to provide sales teams with the flexibility, bandwidth, and capacity to deliver superior customer service while being cost-efficient. Call it unfair, but network performance is now just as important as employee skills in today’s digital selling economy.
Get better visibility
You cannot manage and measure what you cannot see. Alas, the absence of visibility, or lack of it, is a weak point of remote selling. Higher visibility is now crucial in a post-COVID-19 environment. It allows sales managers to gather the information they need to manage their teams better, as well as make the best decisions faster. A robust CRM is a good starting point.
Hasten communication, lead flow, and response
To ensure effective leadership in a remote setting environment, managers need to discover ways to speed up communication to give the sales team inclusive information about every client activity and engagement. This allows managers to delegate tasks without giving up control. It also provides the remote salespeople the direction they need.
In the internet age, buyers are less willing to wait for information. They are used to instant access, so they expect to get answers to their questions within minutes or even hours, but not days.
Focus on building relationships
All sales teams are facing uncertainty about demand, and that is the biggest risk to the revenue plan by sales managers. According to recent research, only 20% of the customers a salesperson calls will buy in the short term. Sales teams project a 77% decrease in customer retention, 18% decrease in new business acquisitions, and 42% decrease in upselling and cross-sell opportunities. They also do not see things normalizing during the whole of 2021.
Success in the new normal therefore needs to be focused on relationship building. Sales teams now have to focus on opportunities that can sustain relations with major customers and the most valuable prospects. To achieve this, there should be information that enhances trusted advisor interactions and systematic management of accounts.
Get comfortable with one-on-one videos
There is still a chance to get personal during remote selling. A lot has been said about video conferencing not being as good as the real thing, but right now it is the closest we can get to keep human connections robust.
Create a personalized video to your prospects instead of sending impersonal emails or text-heavy SMS.
Give importance to learning and development
This is probably the best time to check in with your sales team and make sure they correctly use your current software and are maximizing the overall sales process. You might just find out that many of them do not understand how to best use your platforms.
Request feedback and ask them questions to get a clear picture of how they are using the tools you provide them. Create a learning and development plan based on the data you have gathered.
Stimulate overall wellness
An individual’s effectiveness depends on their overall health and mindset. To speak to clients effectively, one has to be at his or her best. The presence of the coronavirus can take a toll on one’s mental health, and it will affect the sales team’s performance.
Prioritize your team members’ health this year. Try a remote workout or fitness challenge. Offer incentives if you want, and it does not have to be monetary. Support work-life balance by setting regular times off or not sending emails during off-hours.
The landscape of sales is changed forever. Travel, events, and face-to-face selling are getting less relevant, and remote selling is going to take center stage, at least in the next few years.
These strategies will help accomplish an important goal, and that is to build trust and a solid relationship between you and your team, as well as your customers. A cohesive team can accomplish anything, albeit remotely.