Sales teams around the world look and act vastly different than they did at the start of 2020. For a lot of organizations, staff restructuring has led to smaller and much more agile teams. For teams lucky enough to avoid downsizing, many still had to make a drastic shift to remote work.
Even with some companies beginning to trickle back into their physical office spaces, it’s likely that many of the changes from last year are here to stay.
Maintaining a strong and productive sales culture in this new environment can be difficult on its own. Since remote work also means remote hiring, assimilating new sales reps into a virtual team dynamic only adds to the struggle.
Meetings with prospects and leads aren’t any easier. Video chats now replace networking events and in-person demos, making it tougher to form genuine connections.
As the economy begins to open back up fully, overcoming these roadblocks to maximize productivity is more important than ever. Keep the following approaches in mind to help both seasoned and new sales reps succeed despite the challenges of working remotely.
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Focus on Your Sales Reps’ Individual Development
KPIs are important, but they’re not the be-all, end-all indicator of your sales reps’ performance and productivity. While 2020 saw a lot of companies scrambling to maintain sales numbers by any means necessary, 2021 brings an opportunity to focus a bit more on the “how.”
Helping your team members improve the way they work through regular check-ins can have a massive impact on productivity, especially for the newest members of your team. These meetings provide an opportunity for individual coaching, keeping your team focused on the company’s bigger picture, and connecting with your team members through genuine conversation.
Norman Behar, chairman and managing director of the Sales Readiness Group, points out that managing performance, coaching, and inspiring are especially important for remote teams to be successful.
According to Behar, sales managers who manage performance don’t just look at the result. They also pay attention to how the sales rep achieved the result. In discussing the steps they took, you can understand where there’s room to help them simplify or improve their process.
Behar also recommends taking advantage of video calls to inspire teams and keep them on the same page.
“Use that opportunity to share and update them on what’s going on in the company and your products and what’s going on in the industry,” he said. “Ask them for their input, get their thoughts to know what’s going on in their mind, and try to understand if there are any underlying concerns. Great leaders make a personal connection, and a video call is a better way to do that.”
Empower Your Team with an Optimal Tech Stack
Every day, there’s a new tool or app promising to increase sales productivity. Figuring out which tools are actually worth the investment can take a lot of trial and error.
In 2021, the easiest way to avoid smoke-and-mirror sales productivity tools is to embrace the tools that make it quicker and easier for your sales reps to continue doing what’s already working. Especially if it helps them accomplish more despite the unexpected distractions that can be common in work-from-home environments.
Employ sales productivity tools that automate your team’s tried and true processes so that, even with distractions, they can focus more attention on bringing in new business. This can include meeting scheduling tools like Calendly for discovery calls, prospect research platforms for your sales team like ZoomInfo, and document signing software like HelloSign to easily send contracts for a digital signature.
Bringing social selling apps like Nimble or LinkedIn Sales Navigator to your sales department can also give your remote team an advantage. These apps simplify prospecting for new leads and fill your sales funnel more quickly.
Get Everyone Comfortable in Front of the Camera
Creating videos might seem like more of a marketing responsibility, but video also has its place in the sales department. According to Vidyard, a video in your sales reps’ cold emails can earn them 3x the responses.
Vidyard points out that a higher response rate equals more leads in the queue and more time spent selling than on outreach. Collaborating with the marketing team for video training and editing can be a great first step to implementing customized video in your team’s email strategy.
Remote work also means that your reps are likely conducting their sales meetings through video calls. Take the time to refresh your team on:
- Etiquette and standards—make sure they know any particulars such as how to greet the customer, whether they need their camera on, how long the calls should be scheduled for, etc.
- Best practices—share with your team any advice that you or other colleagues have from past successful calls, such as how to make the sales call a conversation instead of a one-way pitch.
- Technical training—significant technical issues during a sales call can be embarrassing and come across as unprofessional. Make sure your team knows how to use the communication platform’s features and troubleshoot common issues.
Reviewing this information is critical for new hires, but it can also serve as a refresher for the rest of your team. The next time you discuss these expectations with someone, you can even record your presentation and turn it into an on-demand resource to reference in the future.
Outsource Sales Development
If your organization has had to downsize during the pandemic, you may be working with a stressed team that is stretched thin. This can cause a slowdown in lead generation, which is the opposite of the velocity-based approach B2B sales needs. Even for teams that have grown over the last year, many organizations are still finding themselves in need of more leads than their team can handle.
To avoid overwhelming your team, consider outsourcing your sales development efforts. Outsourced sales development teams have the right mix of experts to get up and running quickly to identify and deliver leads that match your ideal customer.
Instead of handing your internal team a blank slate, you’ll be giving them a high volume of warm leads so they can focus on building connections and closing deals.
Implement Incentives for Top Achievers
Miller Heiman Group’s 2020 research showed that “two out of three sales reps are more concerned about their paycheck than catching the coronavirus.”
This type of worry can crush morale and even hurt sales, so it’s more important than ever to keep your team motivated. One way to relieve worry and acknowledge your team’s success is to keep your incentive program up and running, even during the pandemic.
Ninety percent of top-performing companies use incentive programs to reward their sales reps. Incentives can keep your team focused on the objectives you set and inspire them to continue producing results. If your budget for incentives is small due to the pandemic, there are even low or no-cost options like gift cards, casual dress days (even over video conferencing) and competition-based incentives like an annual trophy.
Supporting Teams’ Productivity with Attention and the Right Tech
Increasing sales productivity in a remote environment is no easy task. It involves making sure sales reps have the right tools for the job and know how to use them. Not only are you supporting your existing team as they stay agile and adapt to the new work environment, but you’re also responsible for integrating new hires so they feel like part of the team.
You also have to make sure your team has the dedicated coaching and management time they need to stay optimistic, in addition to incentives that keep them feeling secure in their role.
Remember that you don’t have to tackle these efforts alone. If you want to further optimize your team’s efforts, outsourcing sales development may be the best approach.