- How to Manage a Remote Sales Team Through a Crisis
- 1. Protect Your Base
- 2. Daily Sales Huddle
- 3. Write Your Own Sales Playbook
- 4. Sales Training
- 5. Research
- 6. Refine your Value Proposition
- 7. Go on the Offense
- 8. Build Your Personal Brand
- 9. Look After Your Family
- How to Effectively Lead a Remote Sales Team
- Recommended Reading
What is Remote Sales Coaching?
Remote Sales Coaching is the process of developing the skills, mindset and performance of Salespeople based at a different location via either telephone or web based system.
Covid-19 has changed the world and whilst that may seem a little melodramatic, we genuinely believe things will take a long time to get back to where they were before the current pandemic.
Like many other workers throughout the UK, Salespeople are being severely affected in terms of the new restrictions on their day to day activities. Given the nature of Sales, they may quickly become restless and frustrated unless they are kept busy and doing meaningful work.
For us “meaningful work” is the key to this. Meaningful work is work that utilises the skills, experience and knowledge of the Salespeople and provides an outcome that they and others see value in.
Now that more and more Sales Teams are working from home, keeping these people busy for 40+ hours per week is a challenge for many company leaders.
Here’s a quick and simple guide to 9 activities you can get your Salespeople working on that will provide real value when we come out of the current mess we are in.
How to Manage a Remote Sales Team Through a Crisis
1. Protect Your Base
In most cases, your customers will be experiencing similar problems to your own business. Rather than ignore them and hope they will simply forget to cancel your contract, get on the front foot and be pro-active.
Brainstorm among your Sales Team regarding what you can do to add value to your customer relationships and then call every customer and ask them individually what you can do to add value for them.
Also, ask specifically “Is there anything we can do to help you get more business?”
We suggest you discover what plans they have for after the current shutdown – what will their new business model look like.
The answers to these questions may be unpleasant however every business needs to forecast and plan, and any information you can supply the business at this stage is important.
Never before has client retention been so important.
2. Daily Sales Huddle
The daily Sales Huddle is a very simple yet effective meeting technique lasting between 10 & 15 Minutes. This should take place via Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts between 0800 & 0830 but must be consistent.
The purpose of the Huddle is to quickly focus your team on the sales productivity and sales activities for the day ahead.
The tonality of the meeting should be formal and should not be used for Training or Coaching, it is purely focussed on Productivity so needs to run on-time and efficiently.
The meeting content should be based on what we do for Inside Sales Teams which is based on the Kanban process. Kanban is the Productivity Management system we use for Sales.
The meeting should be a Stand Up (that obviously won’t work online but hopefully you understand the concept) and can be led by anyone with access to whatever Productivity system you are using.
The meeting is simply a review of what’s working, what’s not, and what can we improve. Any problems that arise should be “parked” till after the meeting so you don’t distract the whole team.
It’s important to start every day positively and productively and the Sales Huddle is a great tool for this.
3. Write Your Own Sales Playbook
Numerous studies show that Sales Teams who use Sales Playbooks perform at a higher level than those that don’t.
Now is the time to write your own Sales Playbook that will document what best practice in Sales in your Company looks like and once it’s documented you can start rolling it out to the wider team.
Remember if the team create their own Sales Playbooks they are more likely to adopt and implement what’s inside it.
Your Sales playbook should be a step by step guide to how you as an organisation sell. They should include all your systems, process, content, performance management, competency frameworks, reviews, training, coaching and sales content.
In short, a stranger should be able to walk in off the street and start selling immediately after reading your Sales Playbook.
In addition to the immediate business benefits, the Sales Playbook provides everything you need to On-board new Salespeople in the future.
4. Sales Training
We suggest you do not attempt traditional Sales Training as we believe that most Salespeople may be too concerned with friends, family and their job security, to engage in a meaningful way with traditional Sales Training.
However, they will engage if you ask them to help Train and Mentor more Junior members of the Sales Team. Get the Team to collectively define a list of meaningful learning objectives and then set time aside for the Senior Salespeople to coach the more inexperienced members of the team.
Be sure to set rules and guidelines and document all the sessions. We recommend creating and using Competency frameworks to gauge both the level of understanding and the practical application of the learning.
Although it may not be popular the best learning tool is without a doubt Roleplay and when people push back on this in most cases it indicates either a lack of sales craft or a lack of confidence.
Roleplay should be a safe and fun environment for people to fail, learn and improve.
Based on your Perfect Sales Prospect Profile find 50 companies that are your new Sales Targets and find out everything you need to know about them. This will include all the decision-makers and bear in mind that research shows that most deals now include 6-10 decision-makers. Your prospect profiles should include:
Business Books They Read
Thought Leaders they follow
Associations & Charities
and lastly but more importantly,
Most common Sales Objections
The last place you would want to learn the most common sales objections is when you are already engaged with them or in the boardroom concluding negotiations. Preparation and practice is the key to success.
6. Refine your Value Proposition
When we lose sales deals the fact is that our competitors are either doing it better than us (doing being whatever product or service you have)
or they are communicating it better than us
Take a long hard look at exactly what you say and how you say it when you are talking, meeting or emailing prospects, and see where you can make improvements. Focus on ways that you can help them save money or make more money.
Everything you say should be what we call User First which simply means forget about your products and services and focus on the Business Pains that they are most likely experiencing.
As an example, we are running a new campaign this week for a client who is targeting Companies who have transitioned most of their office staff to work from home. The campaign messaging is based around how are they coping with the business pains of user adoption, user experience, data security and governance.
Once you have refined your Value Proposition you need to test it because at this stage it’s only a bunch of assumptions. Share it among the team and gather feedback.
7. Go on the Offense
I fully appreciate many people believe this is not the time for Selling however I respectfully disagree and here’s why:
- Without Selling nobody would have access to the new ventilators companies are producing
- Without Selling nobody would have access to the new hand sanitisers
- Without Selling emergency workers wouldn’t have the food, services and infrastructure they require to do their jobs
- Unless companies start to sell they will go under and the Salespeople will lose their jobs. This benefits no one.
- Lastly the faster people start selling, the less damage their will be to the economy and that is money that we and our CHILDREN will have to pay back.
If you receive a sales tweet, email, link, phone call or otherwise with an offer that is of no interest just say no thank you and move on.
Please remember: Not one person would have a job unless companies sell and companies buy. All of our salaries are funded by sales and you should be proud of that.
Defence is important however few people will think to go on the Offense in these times. There is a recession coming if we aren’t technically already there and recessions are great for Salespeople.
During every recession there is churn and where previously companies and buyers would say we’re “happy with our existing supplier” that may no longer be the case. Where Premium brands previously ruled there is now a chink for the Challenger Brands to dive in.
As an example Companies who previously had Lawyers on £250 per hour retainers will now look at Lawyers who only charge £200 per hour retainer. You don’t need to slash your prices, you need to simply adjust who you target and position your products and services as a way for customers to make money or save money.
Use your new top 50 target list and simply phone, email, tweet, link until you get a response. You will get lot’s of No’s and lot’s of rejection and that’s ok because that is the nature of Sales. However, the more activity you do it almost becomes impossible to not sell to someone.
Always remember most people will miss or ignore the first contact and you will have to phone, email, tweet or link between 4 and 8 times before you are answered. If it was easy everyone would be doing it.
8. Build Your Personal Brand
In sales, your personal brand is what your customers say about you behind your back. Hopefully, they will be saying positive things like Salesperson X is really helpful or Salesperson Y really knows this industry, and not Salesperson Z is never on time for our meetings. The way that you measure your Personal Brand is by the number of unsolicited referrals you receive. Frankly, if people are not calling up and saying “You don’t know me but XYZ suggested I call you because we have a problem with X, can we talk?” then there is a problem with your Personal Brand.
Luckily the most common problem that most Salespeople face regarding their Personal brand is that they simply have failed to take ownership of it. For those that don’t believe they have a personal brand then do a Google search for your name and if you are not all over Page 1 then you have a problem because potential customers can’t find you. Whilst this may not be important to some in my own case when I did this years ago Page 1 of Google was dominated by a gentleman with the exact same name as me.
This was a major problem because he lived near me and was also in Sales. By sales I mean he hosted Tupperware parties in ladies houses of an evening, was a Part-time DJ, and drove a Scoobie Doo style van to his weekend gigs. This was hardly the profile that I wanted my potential Business customers to see and confuse me with. Fast forward to now the gentleman hardly appears on Page 1 as I went about deliberately raising my personal brand profile which has removed his. Feel free to check this story if you need to book a 70’s style DJ.
To raise the profile of your own personal brand we suggest you become a Thought Leader within your chosen niche and learn as much as you can about your customers’ Domain. Salespeople who are generalists will be replaced by the bots so you should become a specialist and become the go-to person in your industry. The best place during this period to show you are a Thought Leader is on LinkedIn so post regularly different types of content such as:
- Industry News
- Blog posts from you and your company
- Photo and Video Content
- Company Updates
- Content to support your Community
- Do not post blatant sales promotion content on LinkedIn as it is more likely to damage your brand than win any new business.
9. Look After Your Family
Many Salespeople and others are working from home with young Children. The internet is an amazing resource and the barriers to learning are no longer financial or social, they are simply our appetite to learn.
Children’s education need not suffer as long as they have wifi. No matter their age there are lots of really engaging and well-structured teaching lessons available online via the Khan Academy which is a not for profit online learning resource used by many Schools and Universities.
Create slots in your day to spend time with your family in exchange for them allowing you to work undisturbed.
How to Effectively Lead a Remote Sales Team
Now more than ever companies need Leaders, not Managers and as if the role of the Sales Manager is not difficult enough, this tragedy is now dumped on us all.
Managers need to lead from the front, be proactive and wherever possible demonstrate best practice in what they do.
Like every recession before, this recession will pass and our economy will recover albeit the shape and type of economy will be different however never forget, nothing happens until someone sells something.
Sales are the lifeblood of every business and as long as you can sell you will find employment.
Stay safe and good luck.
Got your own suggestions? Please feel free to comment below.