Does Covid-19 mean the end of the office as we know it?
As new waves surge through populations in Europe and the U.S., employees are once again being told to work from home (WFH).
Although that doesn’t directly impact those in field sales, as office visits aren’t a normal part of those jobs, it once again calls into question the viability of face-to-face sales meetings. Are they safe? Should face-to-face meetings be encouraged?
Many are saying no; not for the next few months at least. As new lockdown, or local lockdown rules come into force, it makes in-person meetings not viable, and in some cases, technically illegal.
Sales leaders can’t risk the health and safety of their teams. And nor are many clients or sales leads inclined to put themselves at risk, which is a possibility when meeting people outside of their own households or bubbles.
Long-term Playbook: WFH for Field Sales Teams
#1: Perfect the art of online presentations
With the leap into working from home (WFH), everyone in field sales has gone from either talking or presenting in-person, to online. Usually that means video presentations, either done through smartphones or laptops.
Laptops are easier, from a salesperson’s point-of-view, as it means you can use presentations during a demo. Presentations are essential, especially when face-to-face sales isn’t possible. We’ve put together the following 3-part webinar series to help field sales agents get used to online presentations (set aside about 1 hour 30 minutes for the whole series):
All available in this YouTube playlist:
Session 1: The different types of remote presentations and demos, and tools for each: watch here (37 minutes)
Session 2: Best practices when giving an online demo: watch here (29 minutes)
Session 3: Best practices for an online presentation: watch here (20 minutes)
#2: Use amazing presentations
With the right pitch deck (or sales presentation, depending on what you call it), you can close deals and win new clients more effectively.
Compelling presentations should answer questions that prospects are either going to have during a call, or that you know others ask, so it makes sense to answer them up-front.
Presentations are either needed at the discovery stage, or if you’ve had a discovery call, then you can put that information into a sales deck, so that you answer prospects questions in the next stage of the process.
As a minimum, sales presentations need to include the following:
- What your product/service does?
- What problems does it solve; pain points does it help overcome?
- How do you solve those problems?
- Why are customers happy with the product/service you provide?
- Who else you work with (testimonials, case studies are useful, etc.)?
Don’t worry if you don’t have time to create a presentation yourself. Or if one you’ve only used occasionally isn’t looking its best. Either a marketing team can make one, or you can work with external providers which offer this specialism, to create an amazing presentation.
#3: Ensure everyone on the team maintains a routine
Before working from home (WFH) was imposed upon millions across the world, there was remote working, or telecommuting. Other ways of describing what many of us are now doing. But WFH is not remote working, at least not as it’s currently being done in the middle of a global pandemic.
Numerous studies show that remote workers are more producitve. As field salespeople know, what they do is already comparable to remote working. Most of your time is spent meeting clients and prospects, and the rest traveling between meetings, with some working from home and a little office time, maybe once a week or every few weeks.
Now that’s all changed. In many countries, field sales teams were forced to transition to working from home in the middle of a pandemic. In the first few months, that meant working alongside partners and children who were also at home.
National and local responses to the crisis have adapted since the early days. Schools, except where there are infections, remain open. Workplaces are also open when it’s safe, creating a hybrid between work and home.
Consequently, your field sales team members are probably able to work more effectively than when this all started. Sales teams may need help moving from being reactive to being proactive. That means setting boundaries. Not trying to work 24/7. Otherwise you’ll have an unproductive sales team, struggling to achieve goals because they won’t be productive when it counts, which ideally should be within what were normal working hours before this started.
Encourage your team to set and stick to routines. If they can’t go to a gym in the morning, then suggest people fit in a walk or run instead. Equally, encourage digital switch-off times, especially if they’re using work devices. This way, your team won’t be plugged in 24/7, helping them be more productive during working hours, while also making it easier for them to get through the challenges of a global pandemic.
#4: Have regular check-in calls and team sessions
But not too regular, however.
Salespeople don’t like being micro-managed.
So just because they’re at home, you should trust based on the work they’re doing (and what they’re recording in a CRM) that they are working. It will soon become apparent who’s struggling to stay productive, which is something you can help team members with.
Field sales teams, alongside every other kind of sales team, could be working from home for some time to come. Maybe another year, maybe longer. We need to accept that this is the “new normal” in many countries, until the virus is under control.
Sales hasn’t changed, as such. However, the ways in which salespeople operate has changed, which means sales leaders sticking to the following playbook:
- Know how to perfect the art of online presentations
- Make sure to use amazing presentations/visuals for every call
- Ensure everyone on the team maintains a routine
- Have regular check-in calls and team sessions
CrankWheel: Cut your sales cycle in half with instant screen-sharing. Go from two or more sales calls to one: Become a one call close sales team.