Last week, in a LinkedIn post from an Organizational Psychologist, it was suggested that if you can’t trust people to work from home, maybe you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place. This completely misses the point that working remotely, especially salespeople working remotely, requires a different set of skills. Not just sales skills but skills throughout the company, including management skills, systems and a better support structure.
As we get used to the new normal, the skills that got us here won’t be the ones that keep us here and certainly won’t be the ones to take us to the next level.
By some estimates, only 41% of all salespeople are well-suited for working remotely from home. It requires the ability to work without supervision, to be a self-starter and to be able to work independently of physical proximity to the rest of the team.
Managing such a team represents new challenges as well. Being able to coach, motivate and support a team takes a lot more than just looking at call counts. That was true before and it is critical in the brave new world we live in now.
Remember the CRM? Back in February (doesn’t that seem like a long time ago?) it was just annoying when you couldn’t get docs done because of a missing field and had to walk over to talk to the salesperson. It was just annoying when an important customer called the office and you didn’t know about the conversation they had with your salesperson the day before. It was just annoying when only 50% of the sales forecast came through. Now those things can be mission critical. Setting expectations about using the system and holding people accountable matters now more than ever.
So, what do you do? My suggestion is to start with an honest inventory of your sale teams’ strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t know where you’re starting and what you have to work with, it’s hard to chart a path to get you where you need to go.
By identifying the core competencies (we look at 21) in your sales teams, you can:
- Make sure you have the right people in the right roles. Do you have farmers out there hunting for new clients? Are your hunters looking after your key accounts?
- Determine how Management impacts the sales force. Are they bringing the right combination of Coaching, Motivation, Recruiting and Accountability?
- Find out how to use your systems and processes to maximum value. Maybe education and training can produce a change. Maybe better sales support is in order.
Whatever you decide to do, do it NOW. Everything changed back in March and it isn’t going back to the way it was any time soon. I was here in 1987 when the stock market crashed. I lived through the dot-com bubble in the 1990s, 9/11, and the credit crisis of 2008+. This is different. We’re going to be living with this for a while.
So, it’s time to go on offense. Figure out how to use this new reality to your advantage. Find and use trusted advisors. Those who do will thrive and those who don’t…. well, listen, just be one of the ones who do. And keep washing your hands.