It seemed as though everything changed overnight when the pandemic first started in early 2020. Many sales professionals who were accustomed to working in offices found that a work from home routine and using Zoom calls could replace their 9 to 5 schedules and daily drive.
In a recent survey, more people—60%—said they had switched their place of employment, and more—41%—were doing it from their homes.
There were other modifications as well, though. Compared to those working from other locations, those following a work from home culture were five percentage points more likely to at least infrequently work on the weekends.
Surprisingly, working from home as opposed to at an office had little effect on output. This demonstrates how adaptable salesmen are at adjusting to novel situations, standards, and requirements.
In order to prevent work from interfering with their personal life and increase productivity when on a work from home schedule, sales managers and their teams can adjust to remote sales in three critical ways, which will be covered in this RisePath post.
Prioritize outcomes over online time.
Some managers were concerned about how to determine whether their teams were genuinely engaged when workers first started working from home. What was to stop them from feigning work while actually binge-watching Netflix?
As a result, several businesses required that all of their staff be reachable and online at all times. In other instances, supervisors spied on their teams using monitoring tools, often without the teams’ knowledge.
Increased work hours don’t necessarily translate into more output.
This anxiety (and overcorrection) is a result of the popular misconception that an individual achieves more the longer they work. However, it’s unlikely that a workplace culture that values hours worked can produce the intended outcomes.
According to Stanford University research, productivity barely increased after 50 hours of work each week. On the other hand, not having a weekend day off really reduced productivity. Contrast that with the findings of another survey, which revealed that 25% of salespeople work more than 50 hours each week.
It’s critical to recognise that the Stanford study drew inspiration from work done at a munitions industry. However, other research has revealed that knowledge workers’ outcomes are comparable.
Employees that are overworked produce less.
Similarly, a Harvard Business School study found that consultants were more effective when they had predictable downtime (such as evenings and weekends).
The good news for sales managers is that, regardless of how much time their reps spend online, it’s easy to track your team’s progress with a CRM to determine whether or not they are meeting their targets. That’s because it doesn’t matter how long sales representatives have been sitting at their desks if they aren’t setting up meetings or closing sales.
Set specific goals and make expectations known.
You must establish clear goals in order to foster trust and refrain from micromanaging. Remote representatives need to understand exactly how their work will be evaluated and what performance measures will be applied.
The largest hindrance to productivity, according to a survey of more than 850 remote workers, was “a lack of clear standards and expectations-especially surrounding availability.” Reps are more likely to concentrate on tasks that make a difference when those requirements are explicitly stated (as opposed to making sure they are online all day).
You must initially focus on the proper measures if you want to retain productivity (rather than trying to measure everything at once). It is suggested to concentrate on just four critical criteria in our article on how to manage a sales staff remotely.
- Number of leads added to the pipeline as a percentage
- % of pipelined leads that materialise into opportunities
- % of chances that result in signed contracts
- The duration of transitioning between stages
Of course, it’s crucial to inform the team of your goals once you’ve created those measurements.
Put efficient communication ahead of countless meetings.
One benefit of working in an office setting is the ability to asynchronously communicate with your colleagues throughout the day without scheduling individual conversations.
You also need to schedule time for those casual, unscheduled conversations that occurred in addition to the scheduled meetings you had when you all worked in the same office. Regular communication must be prioritised in order to achieve this.
When directing remote sales teams, over-communicating is a virtue. Choose timetables, procedures, and productivity tools, then follow them!
Increase one-on-one interactions to make up for lost run-ins.
More one-on-one meetings can aid in identifying any difficulties that would have been clear in an office setting but may go undetected when employees are huddled in front of a computer screen.
Additionally, a lot of salespeople get their enthusiasm and camaraderie from connecting with their peers. Setting aside time for those “water-cooler” conversations is far from a time waster and can really keep motivation strong.
To enable intense concentration, avoid talking too much.
But this notion of “overcommunication” also raises the prospect of having too many meetings. When a sales representative’s calendar is packed with internal meetings, it is challenging to move on to selling.
According to a meeting poll, 34% of respondents say their meeting schedule interferes with accomplishing their primary job, while 61% say meetings substantially distract them.
Stress can be brought on even by how meetings are run. One of the many new phrases that emerged from the pandemic was “Zoom burnout,” where individuals who participated in lengthy video conferences complained of being exhausted, distracted, and experiencing headaches.
Scheduled breaks and meeting blackouts should be used.
How can we keep everything in balance? If anyone else wants to lessen the burden of video conferencing, we have a number of suggestions, including planned breaks away from the computer, disabling self-view, and instituting a “no internal meetings” day.
Eric also advised against holding meetings on the weekends and at odd hours, which can be problematic for remote teams operating in different time zones. Your European reps might have to get up in the middle of the night to accommodate your LA reps at the ideal hour.
Although it would be ideal, it might not be possible to find a time that works for everyone. Rotating meeting hours is one technique to ensure that no team member or region is confined to the 11 pm catch-up schedule.
Recognize the particular demands of your teams.
The key to all of this is the requirement to get to know your sales staff personally and comprehend their unique wants, particularly in light of the fact that this has been a difficult journey for everyone.
For instance, many salespeople have found it difficult to concentrate on selling throughout the pandemic. In 2019, 62 percent of English-speaking sales professionals identified sales as one of their primary daily tasks; in 2020, that percentage fell to 54 percent. Prospecting and lead qualifying are getting increasing attention in their place.
Sales managers can implement the necessary resources and training after they recognise how the issues have changed.
You can’t expect to find a one-size-fits-all remedy because different people handle fatigue and stress in various ways. However, if you take the time to check in with everyone on your team, you may organise your meetings to take into account their particular circumstances.
The way many salesmen work has undergone a significant transformation. However, despite these difficulties, they continue to be optimistic. Over the next 12 months, 81 percent of sales representatives anticipate higher sales, and 92 percent believe their work will have a beneficial impact on the economy by the end of 2022.
However, for some people, the changes have caused the lines between their home and work lives to become hazier because they now work on the weekends and in the evenings.
Although putting in more hours might seem to boost revenue, spending too much time at a desk might actually reduce performance and raise the risk of burnout.
This has created new difficulties for sales managers who, in addition to their existing duties, now have to assume a new role and support remote employees in these novel situations. Most of the time, this calls for a carefully balanced strategy.
Consider the outcomes your team is achieving rather than how much time they are spending in front of the computer. Increase communication with your teams, but avoid clogging their schedules with pointless meetings. When they are supposed to be off, avoid emailing them, but make sure you are accessible in case they require assistance.
Sales managers and their teams can succeed in this new climate and keep generating money for their company by focusing on the correct metrics, communicating clearly, and setting a positive example.
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