Optimizing your Sales Force for Remote and Hybrid Work

The Pandemic Changed Sales Team Dynamics Forever

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Due to the pandemic, high-performing sales teams have been challenged to make their interactions with prospects and customers equally or more engaging in remote or virtual settings. Conveying compelling messages and connecting with people over a webcam can sometimes feel impersonal, not informative, and repetitive. This situation poses high risks, but it appears this selling mode is here to stay.

According to McKinsey, “​​The amount of revenue generated from video-related interactions has jumped by 69 percent since April 2020. Together, e-commerce and videoconferencing now account for 43 percent of all B2B revenue, more than any other channel. Customers also made it clear that, given the choice, they prefer video to phone.”

This change in interactions has set the tone for sales teams. Their leaders have been forced to reconsider their customer approach strategies. In a hybrid environment, the goal is to allow them to work, sell, reach out to customers, and develop new business remotely, but how?

In addition, sellers have had to learn new skills. Let’s face it: A conversation over a video call is not the same as a face-to-face meeting without the proper ability set. In order to maintain or improve their levels of empathy and credibility with customers, salespeople have had to adapt to technological changes and fine-tune their more subtle -but still critical- communication, speech, and body language skills.

The most successful salespeople nowadays have a hybrid mindset. A hybrid salesperson is someone who uses face-to-face sales skills alongside virtual or remote sales skills. These people are prepared and understand the new dynamics.

Still, they are distinguished in the industry in part because their managers have provided the technological instruments they need to receive on-demand coaching, training, and guidance.

Today, an outstanding salesperson understands that digital conversations demand a high degree of connection and trust. This brief guide will explain how you can optimize your sales force's actions and how you can boost these efforts with an advanced, AI-powered coaching platform for improving each sales conversation.

Post-Pandemic Trends in Sales Teams

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Covid-19 forced every sector and industry to rethink how they work. Sales teams were no exception. After several months of adapting, a general trend was the adoption of different technologies to improve the quality of virtual connections but also to achieve more meaningful interactions with customers.

Here's a look at some of the trends you, as a sales leader, are possibly seeing:

1) Increased Need to Coach and Train Soft Skills

You may know about "soft skills," but do you know how to train them? These non-technical competencies aren’t as easy as teaching someone to slow down their speech or speak with more confidence. They can include all kinds of characteristics, such as personal attributes, personality traits, and likability. How do you coach those?

The need for sellers to be more adaptable to cross-channel (face-to-face and online) interactions means that more and better soft skills are mandatory. The best technological advances and conversation intelligence platforms have helped not only to detect the most effective techniques but to deliver automated, objective insights that actually train reps on how to come across as more trustworthy, empathetic, likable and relatable. This data then helps you upskill your reps at an individual level and scale those skills across your teams, teaching them how to provide a more effective message both through screens and in-person scenarios.

2) Hybrid Sales Dominate, but Present Unique Challenges

Despite all changes, customers still have needs that must be met. However, how they access the products and services they want has changed. Face-to-face interactions frequently alternate with virtual access. It takes patience, empathy, and creativity for salespeople to succeed in this mixed environment.

It has become increasingly important to have a clear and concise message that conveys your brand's value in hybrid and remote settings. Authenticity and humanization during the sales process are the main challenges in these scenarios. The uncertainty in the marketplace demands that your sales team becomes comfortable and effective in a hybrid setting.

3) Need for Automated Insights and Scalable Solutions

There is a strong possibility that you have had to upgrade your current salestech stack with the move to hybrid. You likely also had to resort to complex integrations or migrate to new platform that offers the flexibility and scalability needed for remote and hybrid work.

For example, in the past you would coach, train, and develop your sales team onsite. In a remote and hybrid environment, this is not possible without the aid of state-of-the-art technology that can accurately measure every skill of your successful salespeople to design personalized career development courses for all of your reps.

A powerful sales training solution should also seamlessly integrate into your existing workflows, like your CRM, Sales Engagement Technologies, and Videoconference platforms, so your team’s goals go hand-in-hand with what other systems track and measure. For instance, you can measure certain skills on a call and then see in Salesforce whether that call resulted in a sale. That’s powerful information for both sales managers and reps who need to see how their performance actually plays into real sales conversions.

How Can You Optimize Your Sales Force for Remote and Hybrid Work?

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If you have taken note of the trends mentioned above, you may have a better understanding of how you might make your sales force more productive under the new way of working.

Here are some actions you can take.

Implement Permanent, Asynchronous Communication

Even though remote selling offers many advantages, sales managers who are not accustomed to managing virtual sales teams may find it challenging to establish operational efficiency from a distance.

It can be rather demanding to keep up with the activities of your sales representatives when they are spread out all over the world, especially when you have a large group working for you. The key to uniting your sales organization in a digital environment is effectively communicating with one another.

As a sales coach, when you don't or can’t communicate face-to-face, you won't be able to get all the clues body language can give, which would have better guided the interpretation of your message. In addition, delayed responses and lack of emotional reactions can also lead to confusion, frustration, and even misunderstood conclusions. How many times have you been on a video call and someone on the other side of the screen is half-listening while they’re typing on their computer? How do you capture their attention when they’re so inclined to multitask?

In the world of sales leadership, there is no better way to overcome these hurdles than to adopt asynchronous communications for good. The concept of asynchronous environments is designed to accommodate the fact that no one's work happens simultaneously and that people are more productive when they are able to set their own schedules and can decide how or when they communicate with others.

It is crucial for sales managers running virtual sales teams to adopt asynchronous communication techniques and platforms to manage a large sales team spread across different locations effectively. Almost all asynchronous communication messages are documented and stored to make them easily accessible when needed.

Design Remote and Hybrid Sales-Friendly Training and Coaching Programs

A good sales manager guides and trains their sales reps to streamline sales processes, facilitating optimum results, regardless of whether they work in a virtual environment.

The training programs still need to include an essential component of implementing a sales strategy to help the company increase sales in remote and hybrid settings. Clearly define activity-and outcome-based goals for your sales reps to know what is expected of them at each stage of the sales process, no matter where they work.

Consequently, your remote sales reps can easily keep track of their daily or weekly activities, and you can see their progress simultaneously. In order to make improvement tracking even more reliable, you can ask your team to share regular updates and call recordings so that they can improve the releases in the future.

Don't worry. The right technology will help you do this on-demand, automatically, and at scale. Keep reading to learn more.

Embrace Virtual Meetings to Connect at a Distance

For remote workers, the feeling of being disconnected from colleagues can be a genuine concern. It is not unusual for full-time remote workers to feel isolated at times during the workweek.

Creating opportunities for your virtual sales team to connect and meet each other is an excellent way to help them overcome these feelings. For example, you may set up optional virtual meetings or use video conferencing software to share virtual co-working time with your colleagues or even plan team-building activities during your ongoing sessions.

Obviously, some dynamics of the in-person model may not translate perfectly to a remote or hybrid sales team. Still, with virtual meetings, you will be able to find ways to manage relationships, collaborations and provide incentives to keep your team members comfortable and involved.

Make Sure Your Staff Recruiting Processes Are Up to Date and Improved

If you want to build a great sales team, experienced employees are a must. Both regular and remote sales teams require professional sales reps to succeed in the long run.  Finding outstanding employees has been a challenge in post-pandemic times, so be sure to consider hiring trends.

Gartner, for instance, points out that “To build the workforce you’ll need post-pandemic, focus less on roles — which group unrelated skills — than on the skills needed to drive the organization’s competitive advantage and the workflows that fuel that advantage. Encourage employees to develop critical skills that potentially open up multiple opportunities for their career development, rather than preparing for a specific next role. Offer greater career development support to employees in critical roles who lack critical skills.”

You will be at an advantage when you can motivate candidates to be a part of your team by offering them an environment where they can continuously develop their sales performance. Many don’t want to be micromanaged. Instead, offer them a coaching platform they can access on their own time to proactively measure and improve their skills.

If you have the right tools, like an AI-supported platform, they will have the autonomy to manage training programs on their own, with sales coaches supporting them. These reps will know what they need to improve and keep track of their progress and success.

As a sales coach, you can guide them, empower them, motivate them, and monitor them but leave the training up to the technology and the rep. You will be able to save time and use these valuable hours to focus on building traction in these challenging times.

Update and Improve Your Technology Platforms

Using the best technology stack to equip your remote sales reps with the capability to work virtually will allow your business to grow. In the event that your sales representatives lack the necessary skills to operate effectively with virtual tools, your sales goals are likely to fail while working remotely. So, along with a tech update, necessary learning and adaptation curve may come.

In order to increase your remote sales team's productivity, you must equip them with the optimal technology, including:

Electronic or Digital Signature

To close a deal virtually, it would not be wise for the sales reps to go back and forth with the customer to print, sign, and email documents to complete paperwork. You'll be able to create secure sales agreements online with electronic signature technology, which will enable your team to close deals 100% online.

Sales Enablement

Your distributed sales reps can manage your entire checkout process and convert leads into paying customers with the proper sales enablement tools.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System

Improve internal communication and manage potential clients more effectively with an advanced CRM solution.

Apps to Replace Manual Data Entry

The use of automation software can help your remote salespeople to save time on mundane, repetitive tasks like manual data entry that would otherwise take them hours to complete.

Improved, Cloud-Ready Hardware

Ensure that your remote sales team has access to all the critical hardware necessary for them to maintain the company's workflow seamlessly.

Unified Communications and Collaboration Platforms

Using unified communication applications, the whole team can communicate with one another through just one application. Using advanced collaboration platforms, you can coordinate transparently at all times and stay on the same page.

Project Management Systems

By leveraging these platforms, your remote or hybrid sales team can manage all their projects in one place and maintain visibility into every step of their workflow.

Automated Follow-Up Solutions

Automated sales phone software can, for instance, deliver pre-recorded voice messages, dial numbers when needed, and log your team's business's phone calls to minimize the need for your sales reps to dial manually.

On-Demand Conversation Intelligence

The ideal solution should address your organization's sales skills gaps, build competencies, develop your talent, and enable you to improve performance. Choose an AI-based coaching platform that combines behavioral science, artificial intelligence, and experiential learning to give you a solution for personalized, scalable, and practical skills development.

Utilizing the most effective sales tech for optimal results allows you to have a complete overview of all your sales team activities at a glance. Moreover, your sales professionals will be able to spend less time on unproductive and repetitive tasks, enabling them to better focus on what matters most.

There’s a Novel Way to Optimize Sales Teams Conversations with AI

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In 2020, the way people communicated changed completely. Video conferencing isn't a trend anymore. Across many diverse industries, it is now the norm, including sales teams as well.

Despite the challenges that these new virtual channels pose, companies can have more control over their teams' ability to communicate now than ever before with the help of technology.

You can partner with an advanced solution with AI support. The following information will show you how a comprehensive coaching, training and conversation intelligence tool can help you to take your sales ability and readiness from great to extraordinary.

These are the elements you should look out for:

Revenue intelligence capabilities

Your chosen AI-powered coaching platform for sales must integrate seamlessly with other software. When it connects with other tools, it can provide you with valuable, real-time insights into each conversation or simulated scenario. For example:

  • Video conferencing tools
  • Calendars
  • Customer relationship management
  • Human capital management systems
  • Learning management systems
  • Learning experience platforms

Automatic conversation scoring capabilities

With a leading tool, you can gain insights and intelligence to optimize your team's performance without actually having to be with them face to face or listening to countless recordings. You need to save time, and the level of automation you choose should be the highest.

For this reason, your platform for sales should automatically evaluate, rank, and benchmark selling behaviors according to current coaching techniques and sales capability standards.

Advanced, scalable coaching and training technology based on AI

With today's technological advancements, it is now possible to combine AI with behavioral science and experiential learning to give you a comprehensive and practical way to improve your salespeople's skills in an effective, scalable, and personalized way. Even the best salespeople can learn how to improve their performance when they gain deep, objective insight into what is working and what isn't.

Training salespeople using traditional methods fail to develop this ability. You will be able to gather accurate and reliable data using interactive, experiential learning platforms. Furthermore, you will have the ability to provide invaluable advice and guidance to your team and continuously improve their communication skills.

The following elements must be available on your world-class platform in order to facilitate your team's development:

  • Experiential learning
  • Milestone motivators
  • Video and transcript library
  • Behavioral assessments
  • Personalized feedback
  • Aspirational and competitive benchmarking
  • Role-based scenarios
  • Guided learning journeys
  • Progress tracker
  • Tips and best practices

Rather than just another online course, a platform with this purpose should provide so much more. The solution should be able to identify skills gaps and opportunities for improvement by using the audio, visual, and language data from real conversations.

It not only measures each rep’s skills individually but also shows them how they compare with others, which skills are their best and which need work, and precise ways to build those needed skills. Reps can record or upload calls whenever they wish, giving them deep insights into every scenario.

Assessing, improving, and developing capabilities

To ensure that your reps' video communication is successful, they can't any longer just select a background and clothes that look good. In addition to listening closely to what they say, they'll also want a coaching platform that will assess their body language, tone, trustworthiness, and likeability, for example.

Delivering the argument effectively will determine whether or not their speech and behaviors close the sale. This holds true whether the sale is made in person or online. Video conferencing technology will likely present salespeople with several new challenges, including less personal interactions, while still needing to engage, persuade, and inspire prospective customers.

With a coaching and training-focused sales conversation tool. Using this solution, you can use technology to assess individual speakers both in real-time objectively and virtually and provide them with unbiased feedback on how their performances compare between the two channels.

The system may also help you identify specific communication characteristics and how they align with in-person communication and virtual interaction. You will be able to coach your team so they can deliver a more effective message both on screens and in-person using these key insights.

The right tool can help your sales organization and individual representatives improve and learn, identifying where there are gaps and how to close them. In addition to creating individual development plans, this AI-based program will allow you to influence your managers, representatives, and future talent through long-term behavioral change.

Ensure your organization is ready to sell with a powerful sales conversation tool that tracks and analyzes connections between your organization and sales, delivering metrics to support achieving goals.

Get Remote and Hybrid Sales-Ready with AI

When you can automatically and scalably train your sales team with practical remote and hybrid-friendly communication skills – such as how to listen, ask questions, and display empathy – it means you have the best conversation intelligence platform at your disposal. This tool lets your sales team practice self-directed scenarios and guided practice to improve their skills and achieve their goals.

The best coaching platforms use AI and behavioral science to help your reps establish better human connections so they can close more deals and be effective in any scenario. By analyzing customer-facing conversations, scoring the performance along behavioral dimensions, and giving your people automated feedback, coaching, and measurement, the solution should support your people in becoming top performers.

Your sales reps will communicate more effectively and achieve better results with Quantified's unique analytics, feedback, and development plans. Request a demo now.

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