COVID-19 has affected all sales organizations. It has changed how we work. Our new normal is remarkably different and things will never be the same as they were.
As I explore below, the future of work for sales operations is remote selling. Working beyond the confines of a corporate office is here to stay, and sales organizations need to adapt to be successful in the age of the distributed workforce.
These are the essentials sales organizations must have in place:
- Their sales teams are enabled with the technology and processes to work from anywhere.
- They are customer-focused and their operations are digitally transforming to support the shifts in buyer behavior.
- They use horizontally connected sales tools that support the buyer’s journey and enable them to respond quickly to buyers and increase time-to-revenue.
While many companies struggled during the COVID crisis, others thrived. Those that were resilient can attribute their success to how they responded to the work from home orders.
For organizations that struggled during the pandemic, gaps in processes and technology became apparent. Delays in decision-making and disruption of the sales cycle reduced time-to-revenue, which is a situation no revenue operations leader wants. Many have seriously questioned the capabilities of their sales stack and asked themselves, “Is our sales organization prepared for remote sales now that a distributed workforce will be the norm, rather than a solution to a temporary problem?”
The Shift to Remote Sales
Organizations were forced to transition to remote work quickly. But, working virtually may become the preferred work arrangement for many companies and their employees. A Gartner survey revealed that 74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work after COVID-19. A separate May 2020 Gartner survey of CFOs found that once offices are re-opened, 26% of staff not working from their usual location will continue working virtually beyond the end of 2020.
According to Gallup, 55% of managers whose employees are allowed to work from home say that “once government restrictions are lifted and kids are back in school, the experience of COVID-19 will change their remote work policy.” Of those that will be changing their policy, 52% say they will allow their employees to work remotely more often.
In preparation for the future of work, organizations are exploring more connected ways of working. A 2018 Dell study of 4,600 business leaders from companies with 250+ employees found that 86% plan to use emerging technologies to improve workforce productivity. The technologies used today, and being developed for the distributed workforce of tomorrow, enable remote sales reps to connect and collaborate with buyers and team members from any location. Creating relationships and authentic connections is easier since geographical barriers have all but disappeared.
Employees are enjoying the better work-life balance and reduced commute times that come with remote work, but there are benefits for companies, as well. Managers are reporting that employees are more productive. Working remotely has eliminated non-essential meetings and interruptions by co-workers, leaving sales reps time to focus on connecting with customers, and moving deals through the pipeline. Also, consider that reduced overhead costs of running an office such as rent, utilities, and equipment are all advantages that will make a CFO happy.
Digital Transformation for the Future of Work
Organizations worldwide have taken note of the swift response by the health industry as they implemented telehealth and retailers as they adopted online ordering and contactless delivery. Digital transformation is no longer seen as a project to be implemented in phases over the next few years. Remote work and digital access to products and services are the “next normal,” and budgets have shifted to make digital transformation a priority, rather than a project for the future.
In April 2020, Satya Nadella spoke about the accelerated digital transformation among his customers, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning, to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security—we are working alongside customers every day to help them adapt and stay open for business in a world of remote everything.”
McKinsey reports that those organizations that seize the moment and act boldly in the face of transformation will be those that see the most growth. They advocate, “Design thinking, which involves using systemic reasoning and intuition to address complex problems and explore ideal future states, will be crucial. A design-centric approach focuses first and foremost on end-users or customers.”
Digital transformation of sales and revenue operations empowers B2B sellers to focus on customers’ needs and engage with customers along their buyer’s journey. The market calls for technology that helps sales organizations understand where buyers are, what information they need to make a buying decision, helping move them toward a decision, and becoming a trusted partner through a customer-centric sales process.
Customer-centric sales requires horizontal connectivity in your sales stack. When all deal stages from opportunity to close are connected as one workflow in one location, sales administration is faster, and so is response time to buyers. Not only is it cost-effective, it helps sales teams scale and accelerates the sales cycle.
How to Successfully Scale with a Distributed Sales Team
Distributed sales teams who engage in remote selling need the support, processes, and technology to help their organizations grow revenue.
Support Your Remote Sales Team
Communication is essential, whether working in-house or remotely. Plan consistent and frequent communication with your team. Set expectations for work availability and performance. Provide the resources they need to visualize the entire sales process, their role in achieving team goals, and their impact on revenue.
We encourage sales teams to use guided selling and a sales playbook. The guided question flow keeps reps on track and ensures customers get the right product configurations and pricing for their needs. It also makes onboarding new hires easier. They simply follow the playbook.
Follow Sales Process Best Practices
In our recent article, How to Enable Your Remote Sales Team, we recommend the following best practices to streamline your sales process and sell more effectively:
- Respond quickly to buyers – 50% of buyers choose the vendor that responds first.
- Deliver personalized content – 48% of B2B sellers who incorporated personalization in their account-based marketing strategy rate their marketing as more effective.
- Consistent brand experience – Create a sales proposal process that is guided, controlled, and measurable.
- Send a complete sales proposal – Every asset from qualification stage to close should be included in one personalized proposal. We recommend our DealRoom, which includes Configured Price Quotation, Contract Redlining, Personalized Sales Content, Terms and Conditions, Forms, and e-Signature.
Use Horizontally Connected Sales Stack
A consolidated sales stack, with each customer touchpoint connected from opportunity to close, enables sales teams to reduce admin time and sales cycle duration, and increase time-to-revenue. However, it’s not simply a matter of connecting the separate sales tools you already have in your stack. The key is to select a platform that is purpose-built for horizontal connectivity. This is more efficient for the sales rep and a better experience for the buyer because everything the buyer needs to sign a deal is in one connected solution, including sales collateral, price quote, contract redlining, SoW, billing forms, eSignature. Even subscription management is included.
You can see what this looks like below:
We recently compared customers who are closing deals by sending out price quotes in PDF format with those who are using embedded quotes in our DealRoom.
- PDF format on average takes approximately 447-minutes in the playbook
- In our DealRoom sales proposal software take an average of 75-minutes to create a quote
- That is 83% faster!
Read the full article: How to Accelerate Your B2B Sales Cycle
Additional benefits of a horizontally connected sales platform for remote sales teams is the ability to sync all documents and quotes into your CRM, so all team members are working from one source of truth. It also enables tracking of buyer intent signals that improves communication with buyers and ensures accurate forecasting.
Watch this recorded call where we explain the value of our DealRoom in supporting remote sales and the future of work.