The COVID-19 pandemic has forced every sales professional to adopt a more digital skill set overnight. As a result, marketing and sales leaders are understandably struggling to support their sales teams without the benefit of in-office support or facilitating face-to-face client meetings.
Leaders need to upgrade two very distinct types of support as sales staff continues to adjust and thrive in a new remote reality:
- Sales teams need the tools and infrastructure in place to accomplish their day-to-day tasks.
- Sales teams need a more nuanced and tailored type of sales coaching to succeed.
Offering employees support on both those fronts will position your sales teams for a more successful remote future while making them more dynamic and agile sales professionals.
The Nuts and Bolts of Remote Sales
Shelter-in-place and work-at-home policies have highlighted a general lack of basic work necessities at home, such as reliable Internet connections and secure Wi-Fi. But because the needs of a remote sales team are consistent, it's relatively easy to compile a list of the specific tools they need to succeed.
All of your remote sales reps should be equipped with the following:
- Online infrastructure. Internet speeds of at least five megabits per second (Mbps) are critical for conducting uninterrupted remote sales calls and video meetings. Also, for pitches, it's important for sales staff to have access to a quiet space with a professional backdrop.
- Online playbook. Create a series of consistent actions and processes for sales employees to follow that are optimized for an online sales process (emails, Salesforce tracking, etc.), as opposed to in-person processes.
- Online tools. A comprehensive tool stack allows sales teams to quickly create video meetings, host product demos, and track sales opportunities and outcomes.
- Online skills. Basic digital skills are a must for all reps, but advanced digital training should be offered as well. If certain team members struggle with digital tasks like using collaboration software or hosting conference calls, make extra training available.
- Online routine. Encourage your sales reps to establish a new sales routine. For example, with the benefit of less commuting time, sales teams can now spend more time reading industry publications or studying a prospect's competitors.
- Online enablement. When creating a new value proposition or new feature that can benefit the sales team, communicate all relevant information clearly and provide assets that your staff can use digitally when meeting with prospects.
Coaching for Remote Success
With the building blocks and logistics of online sales in place, it's time to upgrade your coaching tactics.
Remote sales require a unique and agile skill set that requires deliberate coaching and occasional mentorship from senior leadership. With that in mind, here are four coaching strategies you can use to achieve favorable results from newly remote teams:
- Keep messaging aligned. Just because your people are scattered doesn't mean the brand story has to be. Your team needs to tell a better narrative than competitors, but it has to follow your brand's approved story.
Rather than bogging down reps with dense marketing materials or disorganized spec sheets, rethink what training looks like. Try creating bite-sized, interactive learning experiences about products and offerings—these smaller training exercises can be much easier for remote teams to process and use in the field, and are easier to use as a refresher before sales meetings.
Also consider whether a centralized sales training dashboard can help keep this information top of mind for reps. Presenting training materials in smaller, more interactive modules can help reps learn quicker and retain more, helping them tell a more consistent story to prospects.
- Improve content accessibility. Great content is no good if sellers can't find it. Like the centralized training dashboard referenced above, a single source for all sales content assets is critical to keep everyone on the same page.
Sales teams no longer have the luxury of walking over to the marketing team with questions about sales materials. Leading-edge technology can help. Modern content management systems offer AI-driven search tools that can produce the best collateral based on previous sales success.
- Prioritize sales coaching. Keeping remote sellers engaged is easier said than done. Your team is used to one-on-one meetings or in-person interactions, so keep those meetings on the books and make them happen digitally.
In addition, use your team's reliance on tech to your advantage: Record practice sales calls and encourage younger reps to watch them with more experienced sellers so they can receive feedback.
- Empower sellers to engage prospects. Right now, sales teams are desperate to differentiate. Consider investing in better tools that allow sellers to organize and distribute content more dynamically. Imagine replacing a static email attachment with a personalized microsite that addresses a prospect's individual needs. Using something that powerful and dynamic can make the difference between a closed sale and a lost opportunity.
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Current estimates suggest about 56% of the global workforce could do their jobs—in part or totally—from home. By committing to upgrading logistical and coaching support, you are investing in making your teams effective and successful no matter where they are.
Remote sales teams may be the rule and not the exception in the future, and every dollar spent now to equip those teams with tools that keep them on message and relevant to their prospects is a dollar well spent.
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