Working remotely as a salesperson is not exactly a new concept but in recent times remote or virtual working has become such a topical issue. The pandemic has brought about a significant shift in the way businesses operate. Remote selling and virtual collaboration have become the new norm and, if they didn’t do it before, sales leaders need to adapt to this new way of doing business. The difference now is that often the sales targets are also remote, changing the dynamic of the sales effort. With the right tools and skills, sales teams can effectively engage with prospects and clients virtually. In this blog post, we will explore the impact of the pandemic on remote work and virtual collaboration and discuss how sales leaders can equip their teams to succeed in this new environment.
The Rise of Remote Work and Virtual Collaboration
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of remote work and virtual collaboration. According to a study by Gensler, U.S. workers spent an average of 43% of their workweeks collaborating either virtually or in person before the pandemic. However, this number fell to 27% for workers who worked from home in 2020
The sudden shift to remote work has brought about distinct challenges when compared to face-to-face or on-site work. Communication and collaboration are key factors that need to be addressed to ensure uninterrupted productivity and minimize the risk of contracting and spreading the virus
The Importance of Equipping Sales Teams with the Right Tools and Skills
Sales leaders need to equip their teams with the necessary tools and skills to effectively engage with prospects and clients virtually. This may include utilizing video conferencing platforms, virtual demos, and online presentations. According to a study by Katherine A. Karl et al., videoconferencing has both positive and negative effects on work-related meetings during the pandemic
Sales teams need to be trained on how to use these tools effectively to ensure that they can communicate and collaborate with clients and prospects seamlessly.
Adapting to the New Normal
The pandemic has forced businesses to rethink their approach to remote work and virtual collaboration. According to a study by Florian E. Klonek et al., virtual teams have become more effective in their collaboration during the pandemic
Here are some ways sales leaders can adapt their strategies to succeed in this evolving sales environment.
Embrace Remote Selling: Remote selling refers to the process of engaging with prospects and clients virtually, without the need for face-to-face interactions. Here are some key considerations for sales leaders:
a. Utilize Video Conferencing Platforms: Sales teams should leverage video conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet to conduct virtual meetings. Video calls allow for visual communication, enabling a more personal and engaging experience than traditional phone calls.
b. Enhance Presentation Skills: Sales professionals must adapt their presentation skills to the virtual format. This includes using visual aids effectively, maintaining eye contact with the camera, and engaging the audience through compelling storytelling.
c. Overcome Technical Challenges: Sales leaders should ensure their teams have the necessary technical proficiency to navigate virtual platforms seamlessly. This may involve providing training on video conferencing software and troubleshooting common technical issues.
Leverage Virtual Demos and Presentations: Virtual demos and presentations are powerful tools for showcasing products or services remotely. Sales leaders can help their teams excel in this area by:
a. Creating Engaging Virtual Demos: Sales professionals should tailor their demos to the virtual environment, using screen sharing, interactive elements, and multimedia content to captivate their audience. Demonstrating the value and benefits of the product/service effectively is crucial.
b. Personalizing the Experience: Despite the physical distance, sales teams should strive to create a personalized experience for prospects. By understanding their needs and customizing the virtual demo or presentation, sales professionals can foster a sense of connection and build trust.
c. Providing Supporting Materials: Sales leaders should equip their teams with relevant digital collateral, such as product videos, brochures, or case studies, to share with prospects during virtual interactions. These resources enhance understanding and help reinforce key selling points.
Nurture Virtual Relationships: Building strong relationships with prospects and clients is essential, even in a virtual environment. Sales leaders can guide their teams in:
a. Active Listening and Communication: Sales professionals should focus on actively listening to prospects’ needs and providing tailored solutions. Clear and concise communication becomes even more crucial in virtual interactions.
b. Building Trust and Credibility: Trust is the foundation of any successful sales relationship. Sales leaders should emphasize the importance of building credibility through transparent communication, providing accurate information, and delivering on promises.
c. Following Up Effectively: Sales teams must be diligent in following up with prospects after virtual meetings. This includes promptly addressing any outstanding questions or concerns, sharing additional resources, and providing ongoing support.
As adults, our working lives often come with various responsibilities, challenges, and pressures. Amidst the seriousness of professional environments, it is crucial to retain a sense of humour. Embracing laughter and lightheartedness can have numerous benefits, positively impacting job satisfaction, stress management, relationships, and overall well-being. Personally, I have always used humour to help lighten the load when it comes to the stress and frustrations of the day-to-day.
Humour and light relief can play an important role in remote working. Here are some benefits of incorporating humor into the remote work environment:
Here are some thoughts on how to effectively incorporate humour into remote work:
It’s important to note that humour should be used appropriately and in moderation. Attempting humour in any situation, especially when you don’t know people well, can be risky. Remember to balance humour with professionalism, ensuring that it enhances the work environment without becoming distracting or inappropriate. The workplace is often full of relationship dynamics that make certain types of humour riskier than others. Therefore, it’s important to find the right kind and amount of humour that works for your team.
Conclusion: The shift to remote selling and virtual collaboration is more than a temporary response to the pandemic; it is a transformative change in the sales landscape. Adapting to the new normal requires a shift in mindset and approach. Sales leaders must adapt their strategies to this new way of doing business, equipping their teams with the necessary tools and skills to succeed in virtual environments. By embracing video conferencing, mastering virtual demos and presentations, and nurturing virtual relationships (using humour where appropriate), sales professionals can thrive in the digital era, driving business growth and exceeding customer expectations.
With the right tools and skills, sales teams can succeed in this new environment and continue to drive business growth.