The Ultimate Guide to Adapting Your Sales Process to Incorporate Remote Sales and Energise Your Team to Boost Results
Sales goals are rising year after year, yet the financial resources that you’re allocated to try and meet these goals may be dropping. Revenue streams are declining, and you’re naturally concerned that your team won’t meet their targets this year. Sound familiar?
You’re not alone. At this time especially, many leaders are beginning to think more closely about how to create a truly sales efficient organisation. And while they may feel comfortable and familiar with existing processes, they know that it’s time to adapt.
Digitisation is no longer a ‘nice to have’; it’s fast become a strategic necessity. Digital transformation is facilitating new ways of working - such as remote sales - that are both energising teams and boosting results, and this is something that could drive your own team to new levels. Research shows that more than 90% of sales teams shifted to remote sales using digital technologies such as video conferencing during the COVID-19 outbreak, so if you haven’t already made the change, it’s time to adapt to retain a competitive edge.
So where should you start? How can you add digital and remote skills to your team?
Sales vs Buyer Journey
The first step towards implementing change and incorporating remote sales is to ensure that your team is focused on what really generates results. In an ever increasing customer-centric environment, a customer-first approach is vital. That’s why it’s so important for sales managers to understand the differences between sales and the buyer’s journey, aligning business needs with customer expectation.
If you’ve not been hitting your target, then it’s possible that there’s a disconnect between what your team is doing, and what your customers are expecting from their partners. Putting yourself into your customer’s shoes isn’t easy, but it does become simpler to see the other perspective when examining the typical buyer journey.
While sales is largely focused on the end result, the buyer journey is instead used as a visual mapping tool which enables teams to follow and support buyers through every stage of their journey, from awareness to consideration to decision. It allows sales teams to connect in different ways, at different stages, to better attract, engage and delight.
Redesigning the Sales Process
If you’re looking to redesign your sales department and your sales process, it’s natural that you’d seek simplicity. However, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution for increasing the skills of your team, and this can often feel frustrating. The good news is that redesigning your process can be made easier by ensuring your people are focused on the right activities, at the right time. While there’s no set-in-stone template, there are 5 essential steps to creating a sales process that your team will thank you for:
Step 1- Initiate Contact: This first step aligns with the exploration stage of the buyer journey, and allows teams to reach out to prospects as they are exploring an issue.
Step 2 - Identify Needs: While potential customers are investigating possible solutions to their problem, sales teams can work alongside them to fully identify their unique needs.
Step 3 - Present Offer: At the consideration stage of the buyer journey, customers are evaluating partners. This is the time to differentiate through personalised promotions.
Step 4 - Resolve Objections: At the decision stage, customers will be looking to negotiate and commit, which is when sales teams should remove barriers to conversion.
Step 5 - Grow: Once customers have converted and made a purchase, sales teams can leverage the experience to grow, develop, and optimise their new sales strategy.
If you’re looking at how to design a sales process that focuses your team on key sales activities and drives efficiency, these 5 steps really are vital components. This 5 step approach doesn’t disengage teams from the key sales process; instead, they work to integrate this process with the individual stages of the buyer journey which can help sales teams to operate in a more streamlined, more effective and more efficient way.
According to insights firm McKinsey, sellers who ‘meet customers at different points on their journeys...can speedup as much as 20% the time that elapses between qualifying a lead and closing a deal’, highlighting the power of better aligning the needs and expectations of customers with the processes and goals of the business.
Deriving the Most Value From Your Team
It’s not always easy to understand how to be a good sales leader and get the most out of your team, but the secret to success lies in good management practices.
Many sales people naturally have a tendency to prioritise the tasks that they like, procrastinating over other tasks which may limit productivity. To get more value out of your valuable resources, an improved management approach may be needed. With an increasing number of people working remotely, effectively managing a remote team - which works with remote customers - can create a brand new challenge.
“Sales operations leaders, acknowledging the productivity and engagement challenges of remote work, must formalise work-from-home policies and develop strategies to build virtual communities and promote active engagement among sales operations team members and their stakeholders,” says Dave Egloff, Gartner Vice President Analyst, highlighting the importance of adapting to the ‘new normal’.
To become a good sales leader and get the most from your team, it’s important to comprehensively consider the new challenges that come with digitalisation and a shift to remote sales; challenges such as communications, in-house competition, lack of comradeship, differing expectations, trust, loyalty, and independent decision making.
To overcome and combat these new challenges and improve results, it’s important to assess, align, and train your sales team to achieve maximum performance at every level. One of the best methods for achieving this is through in-company training, which brings multiple people from the organisation together. This can enable different members of the business to collaborate to identify key drivers, to better understand the bigger picture and match behaviours and processes with the ultimate goals of the organisation, and build a solid foundation that ensures everyone’s on the same page.
Shifting to a Solutions-Based Approach
A further way to derive more value from your team is to take a closer look at the processes that are being utilised and question whether alternative approaches may deliver improved results. Solutions-based selling is one such alternative, although making the shift from a product-focused process to a solution-based sales process can be met with disdain, particularly from sales people who prefer more traditional methods.
Today’s customers want solutions. They don’t want products. Consider the buyer journey. This begins with ‘awareness’, although this isn’t awareness of a brand; it’s awareness of a problem. And the remainder of the buyer journey is dedicated to solving this problem, not searching for products. A product-based buyer will ask ‘what does it do?’, while a solutions-based buyer will ask ‘how can it solve my problem?’.
This massively changes how sales need to interact with prospects, and highlights the urgent need to upskill in the right areas. However, upskilling simply for solutions selling is not enough. It’s also vital to consider how the recent rise in the popularity of solutions-based buying has impacted customer behaviours and decision making. Today, more than ever, it’s essential that you understand how to upskill your sales reps to win deals when multiple decision makers are involved within the organisation.
Product buying has often been a one-person task; a single person will likely have taken responsibility for identifying suitable products. However, a shift to solutions-focused buying has expanded the one-person task into a group effort. Why? Because products perform a function. Solutions, on the other hand, serve to benefit businesses on a wider scale. More people are interested in ‘solutions’ - in what they can do for the company - meaning more decision makers involved. According to research by Gartner, between 6 and 10 decision makers - each with 4 or 5 pieces of information - are now involved.
An account-based sales strategy can be beneficial, consolidating multiple contacts at an organisation into one broader target, helping sales teams to design and build processes that attract, engage, and delight decision makers operating at all levels.
Incorporating Remote Sales
Remote sales - sparked and facilitated by digitisation - introduces flexibility to traditional sales processes, enabling teams to better meet the rapidly evolving needs and expectations of their customers. However, your sales team is comfortable using existing processes, and excels at meeting with clients face-to-face. Your job is to seamlessly transition your team into a new working environment that convinces them that remote selling can be just as effective. So what are the 4 essential steps required to adapt your sales process to a remote selling environment that your team will appreciate?
- Bring the Right People Onboard
Transitioning from face-to-face to remote sales means having a strong group of team players who are flexible, adaptable and willing to learn. You don’t need to spend money hiring new staff, but it is vital to ensure that appropriate training is in place for existing employees to give them the skills they need to thrive in a remote setting.
- Introduce Supportive Tech
Reports suggest that more than 63% of people aren’t happy to wait more than 5 minutes for others to join a web conference, so adapting your sales process seamlessly means having the right supportive technologies in place. These should provide your sales team with everything they need to conduct their tasks both efficiently and effectively.
- Bring Silos Together
Organisational integration is key to a seamless transition. When working remotely, sales and marketing silos must be brought together as one to support the buyer journey. With remote sales, there is much more of a ‘self-serve’ behaviour from buyers, meaning that sales teams could leverage the power of marketing’s content to attract and engage.
- Offer Ongoing Support
Remote sales teams require just as much support - if not more - as on-site teams. To ensure a seamless transition and make sure that results are being driven, it’s imperative that remote sales teams have ongoing support, and aren’t afraid to ask questions. Uncertainty regarding the new process can lead to productivity-killing mistakes.
The Importance of Remote Selling
Making such a big change to your existing sales processes isn’t something to be taken lightly. It’s important to carefully think about remote selling, why it’s here to stay, and the benefits it has to the client and to sales performance. At this time especially, it’s easy to think of remote sales merely as a workaround for COVID-19 and social distancing. However, the advantages of a remote sales function extend far beyond the pandemic.
As COVID-19 has shown, remote sales can be a vital component of any good business continuity plan, offering a workable alternative to traditional processes during times of crisis and challenge. But there are more benefits to consider. For example, remote sales is a scalable strategy that enables businesses to grow globally without the associated travel costs. The Global Business Travel Association reports that, by 2017, annual spending on business travel had already surpassed the $1.3 trillion mark. Remote sales can also accelerate trust by enabling reps to connect anywhere, at any time and work to better align the sales process to the modern day expectations of the average buyer.
How to Build a Remote Sales Team
A common obstacle that sales leaders are encountering today is that they’re ready to make the shift towards remote selling, but none of their team members have this skill. And there is a skill to it. Boston Consulting reports that 50% of buyers are concerned about working remotely with new vendors, compared to just 20% who are concerned about working remotely with existing vendors, so there’s a certain level of skill required here to ensure that remote sales teams are able to engage with new prospects.
It’s vital to know how to build a remote sales team that really delivers. And while there’s no definitive right or wrong, there are 7 sales management tips you can apply to improve your team’s remote selling skills and motivate them to achieve success:
- Be Clear: Set clear expectations so teams know what they’re aiming for
- Be Resource Conscious: Invest in tools that drive performance across the board
- Be Available: Ensure that your team know they have your support when needed
- Be Social: Encourage interaction, generate competition, and facilitate discussion
- Set by Example: Accelerate the speed of your communications and responses
- Maintain Commitment to Growth: Offer training and development opportunities
- Invest in Tech: Introduce new tools to help your team succeed
Investing in technology is a tricky area, and it’s important to understand what sort of essential sales technology your sales team needs to deliver successfully in both traditional and remote selling environments. McKinsey says that talent is crucial for performance, but so is supporting that talent as they work to deliver results.
If your sales team is not effective or efficient enough, you may need better technology to help them. With the right tools, sales teams can promote solutions and engage with customers around the world, without the need to travel. There are many different types of technology that could be used, including customer relationship management (CRM) software, internal and external communications tools, and inbound marketing platforms to connect with marketing and align the departments. All technologies should have one thing in common: an ability to deliver incredible buying experiences, every time.
Making a Change
Transitioning from face-to-face sales to remote sales does require a strategy, and it does mean a need to adapt and move away from familiar, tried-and-tested processes to new ways of working. However, remote sales strategies do what traditional methods can’t; they put the customer first, they enable sales teams to gain a deeper understanding of what today’s customers really want, and, when implemented correctly, they hold the potential to drive the business forward and reach new heights.