The 4 Essential Steps Required to Adapt your Sales Process to a Remote Selling Environment

For some departments, adapting the sales process to remote selling has proven difficult. Here are the 4 essential steps required to make the shift a success.

A productive remote sales environment is no longer just a ‘nice to have’; it’s a necessity. Mercer research reports that, across The Netherlands, 67% of organizations moved their employees to remote locations in 2020 as COVID-19 measures were first introduced, and even as a greater sense of normality has returned, between 20 and 30 percent of employees have a desire to continue working from home in the future. 

For some departments, making the transition to remote sales has been relatively simple. In sales, however, leaders are faced not only with the challenge of managing a remote team, but also with the task of having to adapt the sales process itself to engage with remote buyers. It’s a complex situation, and many sales leaders are making the mistake of searching for a ‘one size fits all’ solution to the problem. Sadly, this solution doesn’t exist, but what DOES exist is a straightforward 4-step system to help you adapt the sales process to align more closely with the remote selling environment:

1. Bring the Right People Onboard

The fact of the matter is that it’s going to be difficult - if not impossible - to adapt the sales process if your team doesn't have the skills they need to facilitate, implement, and embrace change. And while you may feel quite proud of the team you’ve built and developed, the truth is that shifting from an on-site environment to a remote environment will make any existing skills gaps more apparent than ever. While new hires can bridge these gaps, it’s also possible to train, upskill, and reskill the existing workforce to ensure that their remote working skills - communication especially - are up to scratch. Giving people the skills they need to operate remotely - and communicate with remote buyers - is the essential foundation of transitioning to a remote working environment. 

2. Introduce Supportive Tech

If your sales process is not yet rooted in sales technology, then this is a vital aspect that needs to be adapted in order to transition seamlessly to a remote selling environment and increase your sales team’s performance. This can be challenging for sales leaders who are comfortable using their own tried-and-tested ways of working, such as familiar yet outdated CRM systems. 

Digitalization has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, with reports showing that three quarters of workers used at least two new types of technology when shifting to remote locations. To adapt the sales process effectively, technologies that enable improved communications between the team - and between buyers and reps - should be introduced, along with other supportive technologies such as meeting and project management software. 

3. Bring Silos Together

If your team has grown used to managing the sales process independently, this is something that should be rethought as part of the transition to remote working.

According to McKinsey, one of the most critical aspects of moving to a remote environment is the need for leaders to ‘reject the hierarchical model that they might be more comfortable with in normal times and instead involve many more stakeholders and encourage different views and debate’. Similarly, Deloitte advises to ‘consider networks as effective problem solvers’. Bringing sales together with marketing, development, and the core business can help to adapt the sales process in a results-driven way that uses organisation-wide collaboration to generate success. This could feel a lot like you need to learn how to be a sales leader all over again but in reality, it’s more a case of adapting and evolving your current approach to reflect the fact that your sales team structure and location looks a little different right now.

4. Offer Ongoing Support

Learning, technology, and collaboration are all key areas where the existing on-site sales process needs to be adapted for the remote working environment, but perhaps the most vital aspect of all is having a team that’s able to translate their new skills into strategic planning tactics. And for this to happen, sales leaders must focus on their own leadership skills, ensuring they’re able to offer consistent, ongoing support to really build a remote working environment - and remote sales process - that truly delivers. 

Sales leaders must bring more structure to the sales process, with new documented policies - and easy access to these policies - that clearly outline changes and identify and highlight key performance indicators which make it easy to track if the stated changes are achieving goals. 

Avoiding a Common Mistake

One of the biggest mistakes that sales leaders are making today is that they’re taking their existing sales process with them from the office to the home. After all, this sales process has been delivering results, so why fix what isn’t broken? What they don’t realise is that on-site sales processes don’t always translate to the remote environment, especially when remote buyers are involved on the other end, too. 

Taking the time to analyse the existing sales process, look at where gaps may arise when transitioning to a remote environment, and taking proactive approaches to bridging these gaps is fast becoming a critical concern for businesses as they work to adapt to the new normal.

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