Alongside the staggering toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on public health across the globe, the crisis’ economic fallout was similarly massive, affecting nearly every industry to some degree. Sales was no exception.
On the consumer level, e-commerce became the key to any success businesses managed to have. At the same time, those selling in the B2B environment had to conduct their pitch meetings with clients over video conference calls (along with the rest of their operations, in most cases). Companies in both segments that were able to handle this shift successfully managed to experience some success (or at least maintain the status quo) despite the pandemic-related economic downturn, while those that couldn’t adapt to remote selling had a much rougher go of it.
In this post, we’re going to zero in on the essential remote sales definition, and explore in detail how your organization can implement this process in an effective way that’s most suited for your needs.
What is remote sales?
Remote sales is the virtualization of traditional sales functions. This includes everything in the conventional deal-making process, ranging from pre-deal interactions and “kickoff” meetings to customer service and data gathering and analysis.
Internal functions of the sales team, such as the onboarding of new reps and the continuous coaching of these sellers throughout the span of their time with the company, also fall under the umbrella of remote sales.
Beyond that, there is a great deal of room for variation (and occasionally, improvisation) within the broad remote sales framework explained above. Most of the companies that sell remotely do so in ways slightly different from one another, just as their execution of other essential business functions varies on a case-by-case basis.
If you aren’t already overseeing sales on a strictly remote basis, you might reasonably be wondering how long remote sales will be the norm. The answer to that question is multifaceted. While in-person sales will resume to a certain extent, remote sales aren’t going away any time soon. Over time, these virtualized processes will only become increasingly more important to sales operations and enablement alike.
Does remote selling really work?
The misconceptions that surround remote sales are similar to those of working from home in general: that it led to a decline in productivity, communication and collaboration and promoted distraction, all of which result in bottom-line losses for the business.
In the earliest days of remote working, those things might have been true to some extent. However, as the practice became increasingly common, people and organizations quickly adapted to handle it with ease. According to a 2019 survey by Airtasker, remote employees said that escaping the confines of the office made them more productive.
There’s nothing to suggest that sales is less likely to be effective in a remote context. That said, maintaining close communication with prospects becomes even more crucial when that communication is limited to emails and voice or video calls. The latter is particularly important. It’s as close to a face-to-face meeting as you can get remotely, so you’ll want to use a conferencing solution with strong call quality and capacity.
Although there’s slightly less room for bonding between reps and leads in a remote context than there is when you’re in the same room with a potential buyer, the conversation can flow similarly, and you can present collateral by screen-sharing presentations, sales content, etc.
Distance training and coaching
Hiring and onboarding have become just as virtualized as any other standard corporate process in this era of remote operations. You can cover the same fundamentals of the sales profession you would if you were onboarding them in person such as pitching value propositions, setting up effective demos and reckoning with prospect hesitation and objection. This can also include key procedural skills like the proper use of CRM tools and HR software (for expense management and so on). Ideally, you should make remote training fun where possible with quizzes and other interactive exercises.
When managing a team of reps from afar, it also becomes increasingly important to monitor the success of each agent, as you can’t observe them visually the way you would in the office. One-on-one video chats with sellers, in which you review recent successes and failures and coach them to find the most personally relevant approach for improving their deal-making abilities, will go a long way toward preserving team strength.
Preserving sales team culture from afar
Remote sales enablement and management aren’t just a matter of communicating with reps about their quotas and revenue generation goals. You must also find ways to keep the team bonded on a personal level.
You shouldn’t limit your meetings to shoptalk: Dedicate a block of time to casual conversation during every team conference. It’ll also be worth your while to schedule the occasional “virtual happy hour” that is entirely focused on shooting the breeze.
Encourage the members of your team to be themselves in this context. If you had a positive culture before you transitioned to being remote, it should hold up, but as a manager, it’s on you to lead efforts to preserve it.
A remote toolbox
Having the right technology becomes much more important when your team is conducting sales remotely. For starters, your CRM platform and remote communications tools like Slack and Skype must be equipped for large-scale remote function — e.g., you may need to pay extra for your conferencing platform to have unlimited call and chat capacity. You’ll also be using cloud storage at a much greater volume.
But perhaps above all, you’ll require a sales enablement solution that’s equipped to facilitate training, coaching, communication and content-sharing across different locations. Showpad Coach and Showpad Content weren’t designed with remote sales in mind, but they’re readily adaptable to our new normal.
Contact us today to request a demo and start your journey down the road of sales enablement with Showpad.