Before Coronavirus swept through the world, remote work was a growing trend. In the tech and startup world, thousands of companies were operating with completely remote teams, or part of the team was remote some of the time.
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Between 2017 and 2018, telecommuting, which is another way of describing working from home or another location (such as a co-working space), increased 22%. Over the previous ten years, even larger companies had started to support flexible and remote working options.
Since 2010, the number of people who work remotely at least one day per week increased 400% (stats from FlexJobs and GetApp). Employees in every demographic have benefited, giving everyone from graduates to parents and those nearing retirement greater flexibility.
Not only is remote working better for employees, companies were surprised to find those who worked from home were more productive. According to multiple studies, the majority of remote workers surveyed say they’re more productive at home than in the office.
Working remotely during Covid-19: New operating norms in sales
Studies about remote working from the last decade now sound like ancient history.
We are living and working in a new world. So while they’re useful to know, we have to acknowledge that companies are attempting to operate under very challenging circumstances. Sales teams, although used to a certain level of stress and uncertainty, are dealing with personal and professional challenges that are unprecedented.
Humanity has no playbook for this. It’s never happened before. We have to acknowledge that, otherwise we risk overlooking the reality of the situation. Alongside the other aspect of that reality, that “normal” isn’t coming back for a while, and when it does, it’s going to be a new normal.
Businesses are doing everything they can to reconfigure operations to ensure everyone is productive and clients are looked after. Sales still need to generate revenue. It’s more important now than ever.
Inbound sales teams, used to working together in an office, are trying to stay productive after the usual operating norms have been dramatically changed. No one expected to have to set a sales team up to work from home.
How many of us could have imagined kicking off team sales strategy meetings using video calls?
Or trying to do sales calls when kids, many of whom are off school, are playing downstairs or in the next room?
This is the reality of sales across the world in May 2020. And even as lockdowns, quarantines and stay at home orders are eased (as many countries are doing, or in the process of planning for), how many of us are going to feel safe enough to return to the office straight away?
Whether people come back to the office will depend on a lot of factors. Companies would need to put provisions in-place to ensure this was done safely, so we could be looking at many months more of working from home (WFH).
How Inbound Sales Teams can stay productive when working from home?
#1: Best use of space
Until this, employer’s didn’t need to worry about how employee’s homes were laid out. Now, whether someone has a spare room or two, is pretty important. People are having to improvise. Only those with a decent amount of spare space can work easily from home. Whereas others are making do using kitchen tables, standing desks, and even up-turned laundry baskets.
When it comes to doing sales calls and instant demos, salespeople ideally need a quiet area to work. It can be off-putting, if not impossible, to try and demo a product when a child is playing Fortnite in the same room. Sales managers therefore need to think about how and where people are working, and if possible, do something that will make it easier for those who are trying to work in more challenging circumstances.
#2: Right tools for the job
Saes managers equally need to ensure that teams have the tools they need to work.
Most of these should be cloud-based, so whatever people were using at the office will still work at home. Everyone needs emails and apps to communicate between themselves, alongside project management solutions and access to the CRM.
Alongside those, having an Instant Demo and screen-sharing solution, such as CrankWheel, is proving incredibly useful for many companies suddenly scrambling to provide the right experience for prospects. With CrankWheel, sales teams can sell more faster and cut sales cycles in half, which is exactly what managers need in this challenging economy.
#3: Avoid micromanaging
In the immediate aftermath of this starting, managers were understandably keen to maintain as much face-to-face communication as possible. Where those interactions were suddenly absent, video calls and whole team gatherings on one call after another quickly became the norm.
It has soon proved tiring and in many cases, too much for a lot of people. Having a team go from one call to the next, and then still try and do sales calls/demos, doesn’t improve productivity.
As work settles into a new normal, sales managers need to trust teams to move forward, using CRMs and the same number/style of check-ins with them as they would before this happened. Overwhelming and micromanaging will only add to stress levels in an already difficult time.
At the same time, sales managers need to look after the mental and physical health of team members. As much as you need them to perform, that isn’t possible if people are having a difficult day or week. Be mindful of personal circumstances, and that people are coping with this in different ways. Support your team in the most effective ways you can, and they will continue to put in the work to get deals across the line and more into the pipeline.