Remote Selling -part one
Leaders are currently facing added and unprecedented challenges managing teams (and clients!). While striving to keep everyone sharp and in a productive, proactive, focused and success-driven mindset, it has become clear this ‘remote selling’ malarkey may be kicking around for a while.
2020 – Temporary fixes
Many leaders thought (hoped, had fingers, legs and toes crossed) this was a ‘small detour’ in how they did business.
Our calls in April 2020 therefore were focused on providing an ‘interim band aid’ fix to ‘get us through right now’. These requests involved assisting teams to become skilled in mindset, resilience, mastering telephone skills, sharpening remote presentations, writing winning emails, video conferencing skills, handling objections by phone, negotiating by phone and ‘cold calling’ via phone, email and LinkedIn.
Understanding personality types
We also received a lot of enquiries about understanding personality types so sales teams could connect better with clients, a lot on the psychology of human behaviour, buyer behaviour and other skills needed when working remotely, including handling being physically distanced from their team etc.
Leaders quickly wanted a plethora of new skills for themselves and number one was ‘help me help my team’, then ‘how do I keep the team positive, upbeat and commercially minded whilst this playing field has momentarily flipped?’
Adjusting to our new reality
We are now succumbing to the raw truth, which has been lurking at the back of our heads for a while, that when things subside, many of your clients will find it more productive, efficient and safer to engage with your team remotely. So those salespeople keen as mustard to ‘get back to normal’ gagging to be let out of the cage will be facing a low requirement for face-to-face.
For some leaders this isn’t a big deal, the team adapted, they were set up for remote working already and the new skills were areas they were already strong in.
For others this is like waiting for a train to crash. You know it’s going to happen. You may be in limbo, pushing aside the niggling feelings and, in some part, ignoring the inevitable… because it means a total relook at how you do business. A full change of process. A full change of team skill set. And you know certain people in your team are going to have to adapt fully to a new process and along with that, new sales skills. You know certain salespeople will adapt, some will be keen to upskill, and some will leave.
In summary, as sales leaders, we must implement a long-term strategy game plan.
What is your long term remote selling strategy?
Let’s go into that engine room and observe the individuals who bring in the oxygen for the business – the salespeople.
It’s time to look carefully, because it’s likely the individuals in your team were recruited with a skill set and job description in mind, which now has changed – not just paused momentarily.
I had one client in July with 40 salespeople with territories – all extremely successful account managers. They had been in the industry for over 10 years on average. They cranked up over 7 face-to-face meetings a day, loved meeting people and were great at being hunters.
Out of those 40, 38 had hit a wall. Their full ‘skill set’ was now in question. They went from being highly successful to not knowing how to grab their client’s attention by phone (let alone how to approach new business). They felt the core of their being was in question, maybe they were not actually very good at sales? Their ego was knocked out of the pitch, their self-esteem evaporated, morale was horrific, they were trapped in a downward spiral – lost, sad and desperate. On top of that, they may have had other layers of issues, sick older people they couldn’t visit, home schooling, a depressed child or loved one.
The need for them to be a pillar of strength at home had never been so strong, and their ability to step into it and own it had never been so challenging. They felt they were failing in every area.
We heard this scenario, at varying degrees, over and over again.
We ran webinars on mindset and resilience, wrote blogs and eBooks on the subject and held masterclass after masterclass on it – all of which had the highest ever take up of attendees, each one was at capacity. [Here at Smarter Selling we recognised we had the skills to share – we are all highly trained in mindset, resilience, emotional intelligence and have been in sales for over 30 years. We shared our knowledge for free – no money changed hands].
What questions do you need to ask yourself about your team?
So now that remote selling requires a long term strategy, you will be asking yourself questions:
- What do you need from your salespeople?
- When hiring, what skills does a masterful salesperson now need?
- What personality style is most suited to remote, isolated selling?
- What is important as natural default behaviour?
- What skills can be learned and acquired to succeed?
With your current team:
- What skills do they have?
- What skills do they need to acquire?
- What coaching would help them adapt (rather than resist), because we want them not just to cope, but to be happy, bounce forward, excel, be confident, empowered and thrive?
We have lots to share in this area, this blog covers a segment of that.
As a leader, what questions do you need to ask yourself?
If you are a leader and your sales team are at home right now, there are likely a number of things on your mind.
- How do I manage the teams’ various needs remotely?
- How do I keep those extroverts happy and getting their social fix?
- How do I run a meeting with them and make it exciting?
- Are your team experiencing video conferencing fatigue?
- What if their remote needs are in the danger zone? (Home situation at critical point, trying to juggle family needs and hold down a full-time job)
- Am I skilled at knowing the personality types in my team? I.e. those that are not coping but don’t naturally speak up?
- How do I onboard someone remotely?
- How do I put my own oxygen mask on first when all this is going on? You’re probably feeling if the captain goes down, we’re screwed.
How can you manage a remote team effectively?
It’s worth asking the following questions to gauge where your team is at so you can assess and manage their changing needs.
9. Who is doing well at home? Who is struggling? Who is in a red danger zone? What do they need from me?
10. How do I ensure their mindset is positive and proactive?
11.How do I know what team members are doing all day?
- How can my team members with high face-to-face skills now embrace, dare I say it – thrive in this virtual world?
- How do I know if they need support or help? (Especially those type S personalities who will nod and actually not say anything.)
- How can I ensure team members are confident using the telephone to explore and convert opportunities?
- How do those team members who got into the job for high social contact manage?
- How can my team become polished in all areas of remote selling?
- How can I ensure they are confident to direct clients onto video conferencing and deepen the relationship?
- Are individuals uncomfortable with video conferencing, but tell me ‘The client has VC fatigue, they won’t let me do it’ (kidding themselves that it’s the client driving this thinking)?
- Are team members the ones needing help becoming adaptable when they say to me; ‘no one is returning my call’. Are they really saying, ‘I’ve not had this before, I don’t know what to do – it’s me, I need to adapt’ (or ‘I do not see that it’s me at all, it’s the client’s fault’)?
- How can the team, in turn, motivate their client (keep their client upbeat, positive and interested)?
- How do my team keep their client interested and engaged through the phone and video conference?
- How do we motivate the client to ‘sell on’ our idea (we call this the ‘pull through’) within their internal team who may be remote?
- Which clients have adapted their offering? Their requirements from us may have changed.
- Which potential clients or non-clients are now hot leads due to changing circumstances?
What can you do right now?
I will be addressing all of these questions in time. For now I would say the best thing you can do for yourself is:
- Prioritise yourself and your mental wellbeing
Walk, breathe, take breaks, get sunshine, drink lots of water, breathe again, prioritise – you know the drill, I’m sure you’ve read it all (and done some of it, none of it or keep laughing at the thought of it).
- Prioritise your needs
What skills do you need to help your team within the short term, medium term and long term? What’s needed right now? How can I quickly upskill? How can I upskill the team quickly?
Where do I go for those skills?
Read part two: personality types of your team and of your client
What to do
Help your team by being positive about remote selling, see it as the future and not as the poor cousin
Participate: Join us at our next 30 minute Handling Objections Masterclass, part of our 4-part series, on Tues 7 Sept at 9am >>>
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Learn the full picture: Join us on a Sales Accelerator program where we go over remote selling >>>
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Piece written by Charmaine Keegan, author of over 20 eBooks, is a sought-after guest speaker, panellist, and keynote. She is a Certified Trainer Extended Disc System, of Situational Leadership, of NLP (how we operate), Hypnotherapy (unconscious communication) and Timeline Therapy (recognising your beliefs about sales and money – and recognising that of your customer). She has studied the psychology of human behaviour and is considered an absolute authority and true expert on sales techniques. She has ‘walked the walk‘ so her content, programs and key notes are highly practical and focused on results.