Just as we all have had to adjust to hybrid and remote work environments over the past few years, so too have sales organizations had to adjust their strategies for virtual spaces.
In this episode of Sell Smarter. Sell Faster., we discuss the ever-increasing shift to virtual sales and how sales managers and salespeople should alter their approach accordingly.
Joining Dani is Lori Richardson. Lori is an author, speaker, and podcast host, as well as the CEO and Founder of Score More Sales, a nimble, award-winning sales enablement firm that helps mid-sized technology, distribution, and services companies grow front-line revenues in quick and focused ways. She hosts the podcast, Conversations with Women in Sales, which features women in sales who share practical advice for advancing one’s sales career.
Why Has Adapting to Virtual Sales Been So Hard for So Many?
Dani jumps right to the question that continues to plague so many organizations over the previous 2-plus years. She asks, “what are some of the key things that you've seen that made this shift so hard for everyone?”
Lori points to the divide between what many sales leaders want and what actually works for their salespeople.
“It was interesting because I distinctly remember, pre-pandemic, how there were some companies that were just absolutely certain that they would not let their salespeople work remotely,” Loris says. “And so, it was interesting to see some of those companies change. And now, companies are doing everything they can but stand on their head to get people to come back into the office.”
“If you don't have an hour or two commute anymore and you're productive, it's kind of a tough one.”
When all is said and done, in Lori’s eyes, it really boils down to a matter of productivity.
“...if productivity's up [with hybrid/remote work], as some companies have reported, and if revenue is up, then you really need to think about it.”
Ultimately, she doesn’t see the old ways of work returning.
“I don't think one is right or wrong...But going back full-time five days a week? I just don't see it.”
Confusion Around the Term Sales Enablement
Sales enablement plays an integral role in the virtual selling process. But Lori is quick to point out that confusion around the very term “sales enablement” still persists.
“I was an early participant in The Sales Enablement Society. And the reason that group came together...was because of the massive confusion over the term ‘sales enablement.’”
“...And I really admire what [The Sales Enablement Society] did, in the beginning, to try and set some definitions rather than just letting vendors do it. Because that's the way it was in the past. Vendors were saying, ‘oh, this is sales enablement; this is what you need.’ And there were people in sales enablement roles who were very unempowered...”
And when it comes to sales enablement, “empowerment” is the key. According to Lori, you can add all of the latest tools to your tech stack, but without a human touch, none of it will work as well as intended.
“I think the big thing for virtual selling is really in helping teams have the tools and processes that they need at every point to be successful and to help with the culture of working as a team and then just helping people feel empowered.”
“I believe sales enablement can do that even though [many] may think it's a little more about tools and tech and processes.”
“There's a human element that's really important.”
Leaders Need to Set the Tone for Their Sellers
When asked about the most common mistakes that she sees, Lori jumps to the importance of leadership and how its sales managers’ responsibility to create the “value proposition” for their salespeople.
“I have to start with leadership because it doesn't really matter what mistakes the sellers make if they're not off to a good start by leadership.”
“And leadership sets the tone, leadership creates the value proposition and helps with the compelling reasons. It shouldn't be up to salespeople to figure that out.”
“...I've had many roles as a seller where it was on my shoulders. I created my own materials. I honed my value because I didn't quite get it or wasn't clear from leadership what we were selling.”
Loris also calls out the need for consistent, quality coaching. No matter how experienced a seller is.
“And then sales managers need to really lead the team and coach and help people grow. Everybody needs coaching. I don't care how senior they are. I don't care how long they've been around.”
“We always use athletes as a reference point that the top athletes have coaches and a trainer. So that has to be important.”
“And then it, then it comes to the sellers, they need a growth mindset. We're hired to grow revenue. So, if we're not doing that, that's an issue, right?”
Know the Individuals on Your Team
As the conversation comes to a close, Lori makes sure to highlight a sentiment that can be immensely helpful to any sales organization, virtual or not.
“...Know the individuals on your sales team for leaders and know what motivates them. Because different things motivate different people.”
“Some of us are more internally motivated, and some are more externally motivated.”
“I got into sales for the money because I was a single parent, so I'll take cash all day long. But a lot of sellers are not motivated in that way anymore.”
“They want recognition, and they want to do a good job. And it's much more important that money is a piece of it, but it's not that the overarching reason that they're doing their role.”
“So really understand your team, motivate them and just...know how to make it fun.
“I've always done things in my selling career to make it more enjoyable. And because let's face it, it can be hard to sell, right? Sales can be a tough gig.”
“So, if you have awesome people that you're around if you have a great mission, a great vision, really cool services that are changing business, then it makes it much more rewarding.”