1. Virtual remote sales workplace structure
Given that most people have the freedom to work from home – firms can often switch to a remote work plan and completely give employees the freedom to manage their own calendar. Whilst this may be adequate for some senior executives, what we fail to understand from a leadership perspective is the current day-to-day office life has an inherent structure even if management doesn’t set rigid expectations.
Think about the concept of arriving at work – most employees set foot in the door between 8 am - 9 am. Any later, this is seen as socially unacceptable. Furthermore, even if lunchtime isn’t predetermined – social conditioning usually sees large cohorts of an office population eating at a similar interval.
Working from home throws all structure out the window – even the informal examples mentioned above. For sales leadership – it is important to set standards around expectations to see results early on in your remote sales planning.
Daily huddles early in the workday allow the tone to be set correctly from the outset of the day and prevent people from sleeping in and avoiding critical work time. Additionally, utilizing time management software would help with time report analysis and would lead to true productivity.
Increasing one on one meetings from once to twice per week – as people adjust to working alone, it is important to keep in regular communication to ensure motivation is high and that further support is provided beyond what can be achieved by “tapping someone on the shoulder in person.”
Defining set times for prospecting and recording these behaviors – calls, emails, social activities, etc.
2. Remote sales Training
If we think back to how we began our last sales role, more than 90% of us started our last position with an in-person onboarding training program – designed typically to last over two weeks. Unless you already have an e-learning system, the likelihood of your training being suitable for sales staff to consume on their own is extremely low.
To overcome this, you should look at doing an update of your training and onboarding program in three stages. The first stage should look at what materials are still appropriate for the team and prioritize these to be elevated in priority now, providing enough time for stage two.
Stage two requires your team to adapt all materials to be fully optimized to suit a remote sales environment.
Stage three requires you to develop a host of new materials specially targeted at combating some of the challenges associated with working remotely. These include:
- Technology issues
- Personal time management in the home
- Improving online demonstrations
3. Active Engagement
This pillar may not be something you have heard of using this particular term. However, the principles will be extremely familiar.
When working remotely – our critical objective as remote sellers is to make sure the prospect is actively engaged in all aspects of the deal cycle, including but not limited to initial email exchanges, discovery calls, demonstration, and the exploration phases of the deal.
Unlike in-person selling, where we can use first-hand accounts from colleagues at the same company, body language, tone, and phrasing to deduce the outcome at each stage, doing this in an online context can be a real challenge.
To ensure active engagement – it can be extremely helpful to introduce call recording technology where a scorecard can be filled out to make sure reps are asking the right questions to establish a constant connection with their prospects. Questions for your scorecard can include the following:
- Does the rep establish personal rapport within the first five minutes of the conversation?
- How many times did the rep pause and ask a clarification question? What was the strongest example of this?
- Were there any attempts to have the prospect contribute their analysis/background to the call?
4. Visibility during remote sales
When employees are out of the office – the only way to truly gauge potential results other than receiving first-hand accounts from them directly is to look at leading indicators.
From a sales perspective, leading indicators refer to “inputs” which create the “outputs” you desire. The number of dials, emails sent, and deals created are all examples of inputs.
In a remote setting, we need to be advocating a collective corporate consciousness around leading indicators and encouraging reps to drive their own results above the average.
Furthermore, we can extend the pillar of visibility towards tracking the way in which our prospects engage with us remotely. Harnessing email opens, consumption of sales documents and activity on late-stage materials like proposals and contracts can also help us predict the likelihood of opportunities to convert without needing to interact directly.