What does the future of work mean for sales teams?

You’re used to leading a dynamic sales team, working together to deliver the best outcomes for the business by driving successful interactions with prospects and customers. Then in 2020 you’ve suddenly needed to change the way your sales team operates. You’re now managing a wholly remote sales team. Has performance dropped? Is forecast accuracy being affected? Of course, you still have targets to hit, so now is a good time to reflect and to implement change.

A recent McKinsey report showed that almost 90% of B2B sales has reverted to remote. Interestingly, 65% believe this is equally or more effective than sales models used before covid. We must accept the fact that B2B sales is going to stay remote for the foreseeable future.

It’s likely that your whole team has never had to work completely apart before. They have a high success rate with face-to-face selling but working from home 100% probably feels like a huge risk to your business. You may not be confident that the digital systems are even in place to support your team. Even with the tools, how can you ensure that the best techniques and strategies and learnings from the best performers are implemented?

Many sales organisations are now at an inflection point about how to maximise the value going forward. Ensuring the sales teams and leaders have the skills and technology to truly excel at remote selling will result in more successful engagements, shorter sales cycles, and a more predictable pipeline.

Here are five key topics to consider in achieving this:

Start with getting the basics right

Successful remote B2B selling is about ensuring that best practices and technologies are adopted by all team members in an inclusive and supportive way. Take your team back to basics and if need be re-onboard people into the new remote model as though they were new. Your sales team needs to know how to present and run meetings virtually. Get your team to pitch to you, and to each other, to get feedback, learn and build confidence. It is vital when managing any remote team to establish open communication – sales is no different. Working openly and sharing constantly as part of a supportive team (‘working out loud’) will reap the benefits for you and your sales team. Invest time to build a community

Preparation and collaboration have always been the mainstay to Enterprise B2B sales strategies. The conversation in the office about a prospect turns into a contact given through a network. A chat over a coffee turns into an idea on how to get over a sales hurdle. With business development, pre-sales, product teams, post-sales and support team members spread across the globe, and now working from home, it is vital to build a strong open digital team culture of collaboration which is focused on so much more than sharing documents. A culture of collaboration drives better business outcomes resulting in higher sales value, more engaged prospects and reduced sales cycle.

Use the tools to maximum effect

There are many great features in digital workplace tools that can actually make remote selling more effective than face to face. One example is meeting recording in Microsoft Teams which comes with an automated transcription tool so you can have a searchable record of every sales meeting. Another example is Microsoft Presenter Coach that evaluates the performance of online presentations and makes recommendations for improvements. With focus on pace, pitch, use of filler words, informal speech, euphemisms, and culturally sensitive terms, it also includes a report with statistics and suggestions for improvements. This is a powerful tool that should be incorporated into the preparation of all prospect presentations.

Reaching new prospects has never been harder

With no conferences to attend, no networking sessions, gaining new contacts is much harder in the current climate. Your salespeople have to gain skills and work harder at social selling and tapping into conversations that are happening in the digital world. Give them a helping hand by using digital workplace tools to collate a feed of prospect level news and events, and lead alerts from CRM. Plug in tools such as ModuleQ and Artesian can add to this and it allows for a more integrated approach, with your sales team able to engage with a relevant message at the optimal time.

Use new indicators to access work

Those pre-covid cultures that rewarded people who were at their desk by 7.30am and worked into the evening are now long gone. Moving forward it must be about outputs. If you are feeling like you’re losing sight of your team then start using technology to gain a greater insight into what is happening within your team. Analyse recordings of customer meetings to see what’s working within the team. Use workplace analytic tools to identify what is making top performers succeed. Get your team working out-loud so top performers behaviour can be seen by all and others can adopt the same methods. Establish and support best digital working practices so everyone in your team has the chance to succeed.

The overnight shift in buyer behaviour and sales processes can be overwhelming for Sales Managers and Directors. But the covid crisis has presented an opportunity to build a resilient business by widespread adoption of digital tools, techniques, and best practices. Digital and remote sales are the way of the future, and now is the perfect time to align your sales team.

At Future Worx, we can help with this. We enable salesforces to thrive in the digital remote environment. We do this initially by performing structured and detailed sales force-wide digital skills assessments to build skill gap reports. For instance, at Astra Zeneca, we supported global sales teams to come together for the first time on a digital community platform to share insights and best practice. Almost immediately value was delivered as salespeople shared content, tools, and war stories. It meant that Astra Zeneca could tap into the collective wisdom of its whole sales workforce rather than just isolated teams and individuals. We used Microsoft Workplace Analytics to monitor the performance of the sales team and discover the best digital working practices. These tools can also be used to gain a deep insight into the working practices of all your sales team, with daily and weekly reports on time spent on all aspects of the sales cycle. It can provide you with the insights you need to identify and eliminate meetings that are not a good use of time and discover opportunities to optimise sales processes and identify patterns that lead to success.

At Future Worx, we provide end-to-end consulting services for large global sales organisations. This covers strategy development, business process optimisation and employee experience. Everything we do is backed up by full adoption support, with our experts becoming embedded members of your team. We work hands on with sales leaders and teams to give them the confidence to adopt digital workplace technology in a way that allows them to build resilient sales operations. It is our people centric approach, developed over the last nine years, that will ensure that your sales team can thrive in this new reality. Get in contact with us today to find out how we can help your B2B sales team.

To explore the topics discussed in this blog further, join us for our webinar, 5 ways to accelerate B2B sales in a remote-working world on Thursday 3rd September at 2pm BST / 1pm GMT. We will be looking at how B2B enterprise sales has changed forever and how you can build a resilient sales team to thrive in a remote world. Register now!

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