The Quantified team has been hyper focused on helping organizations become more effective virtual communicators — first as we transitioned into all remote, all the time and now as we move toward a new hybrid and largely virtual normal.
Some of the biggest challenges have been for sales and revenue teams. Reps are competing for tech-tired customers’ attention against countless browser tabs, non-stop Zoom calls, and Slack notifications – not to mention the demands of their suddenly-merged home and work lives. And sales leaders are looking for ways to provide personalized coaching when they can no longer walk the floor and hold high-energy daily huddles to address needs as they crop up.
To help sales organizations overcome the new challenges of virtual sales, Quantified hosted a webinar featuring a lively panel conversation with some of the brightest sales leaders from LinkedIn, Spiro and The Brevet Group. We shared experiences and discussed what it takes for sales teams to evolve their communications, processes and technology for stronger performance in 2021 and beyond.
- Michelle Schumaker, Senior Director of Global Sales Readiness, LinkedIn
- Taice Perrotti, VP of Revenue Operations, Spiro
- Eric Wasser, Managing Director, Brevet Group
In broad strokes, the panelists agreed that the shift to remote work has led to new decision dynamics and an accessibility paradox — there are more people involved in decision making than there once were, but sellers now have more access to higher-level decision makers than before. This is also driving the need to prove value earlier in the selling cycle, as those decision makers’ time is often even more limited than it was before the pandemic. Buyers are doing their research well before they speak to a sales rep, so the rep must prove value, build trust, rapport and credibility quickly. This can be a challenge to do virtually and so our process and communication style must adapt to meet this new engagement model.
Fortunately, the panelists shared some fantastic recommendations and strategies for overcoming these challenges. Couldn’t join us for the live webinar? Not to worry — read on for some of the biggest takeaways from the event, and watch the replay here.
Productivity Adapts to New Selling Dynamics
Our first big topic was productivity, and how that has changed or evolved since we started working from home a year ago. The panelists agree that the core metric was not so much raw productivity as “effective productivity.” Are you doing enough of what you’re doing — but more importantly, are you doing it efficiently? We can now capture calls and search through data, analyze it with AI and identify ways to repeat processes and tactics that work well. We can watch to see if reps are demonstrating value early and if they are establishing a solid relationship with the customer or prospect quickly.
“At first, people were jumping to quicker measurements of the types of metrics you’d typically look at if you go remote,” said Eric, referring to metrics like number of calls or duration of calls. “But now people are realizing you can measure more subtlety.” Taice agreed, adding that, “You can be as productive as you want, making 100 calls, but if the tone and emotion isn’t there, you’re not bringing that good customer experience.”
Another big change to the productivity piece that panelists discussed is that sales is no longer the “every rep for themselves” game it once was. Rather, we’re seeing the focus move from individual quotas to more team-based, collaborative initiatives. As organizations seize this opportunity to move to collaborative selling, the move requires more connection, more trust, and more communication skills to be put into play every step of the sales process.
Keeping reps engaged, collaborative, positive, and productive takes some work when everyone is remote. All three panelists shared strategies for helping sales teams stay energized and focused when they can’t share high-fives, pep talks, and on-they-fly feedback. Watch the full webinar to discover them, yourself.
Presence Is More Important than Ever
In terms of presence, one of the biggest changes all three panelists noted was that, where charisma was once the defining trait of a good sales rep, that may no longer be the case. Michelle noted that, now that calls with even the most senior decision makers are much shorter than they once were — and, of course, virtual — sellers can no longer lean on personality or the dinners or the “meetings after the meetings” to build trust and credibility with buyers.
Instead, all three panelists agreed, it’s time to double down on the fundamentals of presence, such as active listening and thorough preparation and discovery to connect with clients and build that trust efficiently and effectively. And from a tactical standpoint, Eric and Noah both emphasized the importance of always having video on. “Being willing to be present is trumping the notion of being local,” said Eric, and Noah added that research has found close rates to be 94% higher with video on than audio only.
Performance Benefits from Data and Technology
The overwhelming perspective on helping sales teams boost performance in this virtual world was that the key is personalized feedback based on actual behaviors. “The idea that you can record to look at behaviors is phenomenal,” Eric said. “It’s extended what good performance can look like tremendously to the things people are saying and doing and the way they’re behaving as indicators.”
All three reps talked about the importance of tape review, both one on one and in groups, to pinpoint problems and offer solutions. The problem, as Michelle pointed out, is that sales managers are experiencing Zoom fatigue just as much as reps and customers, and they need help prioritizing and maximizing their virtual communication time. One solution Taice suggested is giving reps ownership of their own learning, giving them access to their performance data through personalized dashboards that let them really home in on what they can improve and how. “Let them take time on their own to look at their own performance,” she recommended, “through the lens of data.” Here at Quantified, of course, we’re obsessed with data-driven feedback, so the panelists’ performance recommendations were music to our ears. We believe that sales teams who can use technology for good and focus on data to help them become operationally excellent will lead to greater results than ever before.
We want to thank our panelists again for sharing so many incredible insights on how sales organizations can succeed in this virtual world. The ideas in this recap post are just the tip of the iceberg, so we encourage you to view the webinar for even more insights and recommendations.