Here’s what you might have been thinking until at the beginning of 2020: “My sales team should have no trouble switching to remote work and staying productive. After all, sales is a lone-wolf profession anyway, right?”
Now, current circumstances have forced sales leaders everywhere to put that thinking to the test. What many of them have found is that they were more than a little off-base. There’s no guarantee that the switch to remote work will be seamless, and many managers have struggled. Those who think it’s no more difficult for sales reps to sell from their living room than from an office are in for a rude awakening.
To have a healthy remote sales team, you need processes for remote sourcing, interviewing, onboarding, and managing. Get all of this in our guide.
Over the past few days, we’ve been even more active than usual in reaching out to our partner companies and seeing how they’re adjusting to the current circumstances. In these conversations, we’ve discussed the challenges in switching a sales team to full work-from-home, and shared our ideas for how to manage this new and, for most, completely unfamiliar situation.
Now we’re taking the topic to the Betts Blog. Let’s take a look.
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Why your sales team might struggle when they go remote
Not every sales rep gets all the benefits of working from home without hitting some challenges along the way. Here are some of those challenges:
Sales reps depend on internal communications
Despite their reputation as lone wolves, sales reps need more to succeed than just a laptop, headset, and Salesforce login. They very much rely on regular communication with others at the company. Every AE needs to have check-ins with their SDR. The sales team as a whole needs to be closely synced with other teams like Marketing, Product, and Engineering. Even with today’s technology, those communications can slow down when teams go remote.
Is it always good to be a lone wolf?
In a metrics-driven field like sales, you typically can trust reps to chase their quotas without you having to crack the whip too much. But without oversight, how can you be sure they’re adhering to your sales playbook? Revenue is revenue, and to an extent, it’s good to let lone wolf sales reps close in the way that works best for them. But if it goes too far, and they start setting their own agenda – deviating from your messaging, hard-selling instead of taking a consultative approach, or otherwise casting the playbook aside – you might have issues.
Sales teams may not grind as much without recognition
Commissions remain invaluable incentives for sales reps. But sometimes even cold hard cash doesn’t motivate them to grind to their full potential. That’s why companies have systems in place to ensure their SDRs, AEs, and Account Managers get in-person recognition for their efforts. At Betts, we show pump-up scenes from movies or music videos every time someone closes a deal. Other companies have call-outs at weekly all-hands meetings. Whatever the approach, full work-from-home can deprive your team of that, which can negatively impact productivity.
How to make work-from-home work for your sales team
These challenges are real. But there are plenty of measures you can take to keep your team productive and reap all the benefits of working from home.
Optimize your technology
In a remote work scenario, technology is your best friend. But it’s crucial to ensure you’re leveraging it in a way that’s tailored to having a successful sales team. Create a sales-and-marketing Slack channel to keep the communication flowing for sales enablement requests and other essential communications. Ditto for other teams: create channels like sales-and-product, sales-and-CS, etc. In addition to obvious uses of technology like Zoom, consider implementing texting into your team culture to ensure messages are heard, and can be answered, quickly. Just be sure to set parameters to respect everyone’s privacy.
Record your team’s sales calls
Under normal circumstances, managers largely detect deviations from company messaging and sales scripts organically: they hear it from their desks, or happen to walk by a sales rep right as that rep offers a discount to a prospect that shouldn’t qualify for one. When everyone is remote, these opportunities for correction and optimization fly under the radar. To address this, managers can have their reps send over recordings of their calls. It doesn’t have to be every call – just one or two per week. Managers can then listen at the end of each week to make sure the team is aligned and consistent in their messaging, and that they’re following the playbook.
Make the weekly, daily – whether it’s metrics or meetings
Sales is already a metrics-driven profession. But to ensure productivity among remote teams, leaders may have to rely on metrics even more than usual. Many companies already hold SDRs to daily call quotas – maybe it’s time to hold AEs to daily quotas as well. It could be calls made, emails sent, accounts touched, or something else. The same applies to meetings. Team check-ins can move from weekly to daily (hey, there’s no competition for conference rooms when you’re using Zoom!). One-on-ones can increase in frequency as well.
The last few months have forced companies everywhere out of their comfort zones. A huge part of that has been a rushed shift to remote work. Keep this insight in mind to make sure your sales team reaps all the benefits of working from home.