Adapting to Remote Sales: 8 Management Tips to Accelerate or Perfectly Improve This Change Process   

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A year after the Covid pandemic began, adapting to remote sales still poses a challenge for many sales managers. In addition, just when there was some prospect of improvement, we experienced the most serious moment so far. As a result, many sectors are again being affected by the restrictive measures needed to contain the pandemic.

As such, adapting to remote selling — if it hasn’t already taken place effectively — needs more than ever to be the focus of business leaders so that it doesn’t become (further) an obstacle in the pursuit of good results.

This has even been quite common, as we saw in conversations with the Agendor ambassadors, which brought us a series of difficulties that have been faced in this regard.

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However, (Evolve Always) also mentioned success cases and gave practical tips for the sales manager who is still very deeply rooted in the presence – and needs to evolve in adaptation for remote sales at least momentarily. That’s what we’ll cover in this article. Follow up!

Why does remote or distributed sales need to be dominated by the commercial area?

In addition to the new worsening of the situation in Brazil, one year after the pandemic decree by the World Health Organization (WHO), there are other reasons why the sales team needs to master the remote or distributed sales model.

Evidently, many of them are related precisely to the uncertainty scenario that this generates, such as:

  • Insufficient vaccine production and time needed for vaccination effects to appear;
  • Need for social distance and operating restrictions;
  • Risk of lack of inputs for some sectors;
  • Market volatility;
  • Forecast of economic growth below that necessary to recover the 2020 losses.

However, there are also advantages—both of the home office work and the distributed teams format—that need to be considered. Below we have gathered some points related to this aspect that also justify the need to adapt to remote sales.

  • Reduction of installation and equipment costs and maintenance expenses;
  • Increased productivity due to there being commuting time between meetings;
  • Scalability of the inside sales model ;
  • Possibility of hiring professionals from other regions of the country, allowing the formation of more specialized teams.

What are the main challenges for managers in adapting to remote sales?

According to Surely Schmidt, CEO of Versa Trainings, it can be seen that the market is well divided in terms of adapting to remote sales. While some businesses have transferred all the necessary resources to the employees’ homes, others have not yet managed to reach this level.

“I mainly observe the difficulty of companies that had between 80% and 90% of sales made in the field”, he observes. This would be related, according to her, to the challenge of qualifying salespeople for the new format or even to the rejection by professionals to work at a distance. “It is normal to see companies improvising a lot, naively or even denying reality. In short, there is a lot of work ahead”, he adds.

Already Luciano Giarrochi, expert investigative consultative sales Itibam, highlights the issue of leadership and management. “I feel that some managers are having difficulty managing at a distance. Mainly because the leaders are not able to hold sales meetings in the same way they used to do it in person”, he says. On the other hand, he also says that he sees other companies managing to keep pace: “coincidentally, these teams are more mature, so sales were maintained or even grew”.

Finally, Wandered Contra, mentor of sales managers at Velour Semper, summarized in topics the biggest challenges of adapting to remote sales at this time:

  • In-person culture still strong and distrust of professionals in a remote model;
  • Inequality in the way the pandemic affected different sectors: some lost a lot (tourism, trade, services) and others gained (automotive industry, civil construction, agribusiness, exports);
  • Little use of indicators in management and decision making;
  • Fragile feedback;
  • Leadership weakened by the challenges of the moment.

Adaptation for remote sales: 8 practical tips from the Agenda ambassadors

But how to overcome these obstacles and accelerate or improve the migration to the distributed sales model? That seems like the million dollar question for commercial teams these days.

However, our ambassadors have answers and here are the top practical tips for leaders to make the remote sales adaptation effectively and within the time needed to maintain productivity, motivation and results!

1. be sure to empower your team

“This time when the sales force is at home, ‘saving’ travel time and having shorter meetings, is ideal to leverage and empower them. There are several ways to do this.

The training must take place on several fronts: products, sales techniques, processes and finally and perhaps as important as product training, comes the behavioral training. It is within the scope of behavior that the salesperson’s points of improvement are often found. As an example, we can mention discipline, planning ability, motivation, commitment, communication, resilience and even focus on results/goal.” (Luciano Giarrochi)

2. Track and train newcomers

“Considering that the sales result is defined by the pillars of people, processes, management and technology, managers currently take much better advantage of the stages of the selection process, training and monitoring of professionals already hired, and pay more attention to newcomers.

I note that veterans have been asked to develop their newly hired colleagues, which generates a virtuous cycle of learning and valuing people for their performance, which previously did not happen so often.” (Surely Schmidt)

3. Take care of your health and self-motivation

“To keep the team on top, first, you’re the leader, you need to be on top. Self-motivation, self-esteem and your attitude must be in order. And this is a challenging task, as you are also in the middle of the crisis and you are also adapting. There are some steps you can take to get well. Between them:

  • Find an escape valve: try to determine times to do things that give you pleasure;
  • Set a time to get organized;
  • As much as possible, avoid complaining about anything to your team members: you need to be their support at this time;
  • If you are anxious, use and abuse breathing and meditation techniques.” (Lucian)

4. Keep up the work pace and productivity

“It is important that at this moment the pace of work does not decrease. Keeping the sales team productive is essential to get through the crisis and not lose money. One of the most important functions of commercial management is to keep the team motivation alive. So create a new strategy for ‘hitting the kick’.  (Lucian)

“As I also work as a salesperson, I realized, in March 2020, the need to change my productivity self-control from shift to hour. That’s because I became aware that my calls last minutes, conversations on Whastapp too. Therefore, it no longer made sense to think about the production split between morning and afternoon. This represented a very significant change in my way of controlling time and making my routine more productive.” (Surely)

5. Qualify and segment customers

“It was very important before. Now, when adapting to remote sales, it’s a must. Training the team to interpret, qualify, and segment customers into simple categories regarding closing decision making such as hot, warm, and cold changes lead conversion results.

For that, the use of the CRM system is valuable and indispensable, because it optimizes the reading of maturity of the leads and customers in the portfolio and even in prospecting.” (Surely)

6. Control the main indicators

“Controlling the route will be the watchword at this time. You’re away from your team, you don’t see what they’re doing. So, in addition to daily contact with them, all that remains is to have good controls.

Analyzing your business process with a critical eye, trying to find gaps and creating the necessary indicators for this moment is essential. Always use them and adapt to situations.” (Luciano)

7. Invest in interaction at meetings and other times

“In every meeting, whether 1:1 or in a group, start by making a personal checkpoint. Ask what people did over the weekend, how they are doing with telecommuting, how is their family and home routine. This icebreaker is a calibration for leaders. You can also use a one-minute song to change everyone’s mood and help connect with the present.

Encourage coffee conversations, common in the face-to-face model, through virtual happy hours, weekly team meetings or draws for one person each week to share what they have learned about a specific topic.” (Lucian)

8. Humanize the relationship and get closer to the team

“Managers who got closer to their sales collaborators, getting to know better the personality traits, behavior, preferences, family context, work space and home office furniture, personal motivations and goals of each professional, are able to improve communication, relationship, engagement and, consequently, better results.

What matters most in this scenario is not so much the ability to react, but rather the awareness of the need for change and how prepared we are to weather the storm.” (Surely)

Catching your breath for what lies ahead

It is true that we are all tired from this highly challenging period that we have been facing for a year. However, now, when we have approved vaccines and with it the forecast of the end of the crisis cycle, we need to catch our breath to face the coming months with energy and even more adaptability. For this, be sure to incorporate the tips of our experts into your management and also to practice a lot of active listening with your team. Together they will be able to overcome barriers with greater strength!