Sales during COVID-19
If you’re in the remote collaboration solution space, you probably can’t keep up with your inbound calls and leads. Many industries have seen the other side of the equation and are experiencing steep declines and terminations. Regardless of the industry you’re in we’re all working remotely and that brings me to the topic of today’s post.
Many sellers work remotely because they’re embedded in their geography and many work in an office setting. For the remote sellers, this is nothing new but if you are like millions of other working American’s and new to remote working, selling from home can be a tough adjustment.
During my career, I have built and led sales teams and have worked remotely for approximately 30% of that time in roles in Product Management, Operations, Technology, and Sales. These day’s I’m consulting on product strategy and have the privilege of working with one of my clients to directly drive growth (just a fancy way of saying selling!)
Over the past 30 years, I’ve learned a few things that I thought would be helpful to share related to both managing a remote seller (or worker of any kind for that matter) and being a remote seller.
Managing Remote Salespeople
- If you don’t trust your remote workers, it’s not going to work out in the long run for you or them.
- Having a clearly defined process that sets expectations and tracks progress is key.
- Use a transactional communications environment like Slack to communicate both synchronously and asynchronously and archive those discussions.
How do you know if you have the right level of trust, the right processes, and the right tools in place? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you might want to re-think your configuration.
Do you find yourself wanting to check up on your remote workers to make sure they’re working?
Do you wonder if you’ve hired the right people to work remotely?
When reviewing your pipeline status, do you often think to yourself, “What’s up with so-and-so company?
What do all these questions have in common? Well, if you answered yes to any of them you don’t have far to look for a solution. They all point to problems with you as the leader.
The first one indicates that you are either not ready or experienced enough to manage a distributed team. Reflect on why you’re not comfortable and it will usually lead you to either develop the leadership skills to trust in the distributed team process, or it will lead you to the other two questions.
The second question is a function of selecting the right candidates. Some people work well remotely and some do not. Selecting the right candidates involves a combination of your interviewing skills and identifying the right success criteria. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel here, you can find a wealth of information on what makes a great remote salesperson online. Of course, you can also engage me and the rest of the Interesting Blazer team to help you…just sayin’.
Lastly, the third question is simply a combination of the first two. If you have the right tools in place and people are entering information in them but you’re still left wondering, you have a “you problem”. You either don’t trust what you’re being told or you didn’t design the process in a way that delivers you what you feel you need. Either way, look inward.
Being a Remote Salesperson
- Set up a workspace that is separate and distinct from the rest of your living environment.
- Set a schedule/routine and process for each day and week and stick to it.
- Entering information in whatever collaboration tool(s) provided to you on time and accurately is the only measure of success here.
Working remotely offers incredible freedom. You can literally work from anywhere. It also requires significant commitment and responsibility. Effective leaders will be looking at your activity and your results.
Whether you’re in your home office or you’re in a remote workspace, having an effective workspace is critical to your long-term success. People that setup their laptop on the dining room table to work are rarely successful. You don’t need a dedicate office with a door but you do need a designated space where you can setup and operate and where you know both consciously and subconsciously that this is where work happens – nothing else.
Once you have your space set up, focus on your process and your routing. I remember back in the day I would hear sales leaders say things like, “Yeah, I don’t care Karen – Jill crushed her numbers this quarter so if she shows up late to the meeting or doesn’t fill out her TPS reports, that’s fine with me. You worry about you.”
While this still happens a lot today, more and more people are realizing that the pace at which business runs requires more transparency and active management of the sales process. This means that success as a seller now also includes things that previously we only gave lip service to.
Active pipeline management to support accurate forecasting is a must. This requires consistent and timely data entry on leads.
New sales composition is as important as the aggregate number. If you are told to sell at least 40% of product A and 60% of product B and you don’t do that, don’t be surprised if you don’t get credit for hitting your quota.
Being present is key. Gone are the days of lounging around for days on and and then committing a flurry of activity on a Thursday to meet your sales leaders demands.
Just like the sales leader, if you as the sales person do not:
- Trust your sales leader,
- Trust the process and,
- Understand the goals and why they are what they are
its going to be increasingly difficult for you to succeed going forward.
As always, I look forward to your comments and questions!