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How to Strengthen Remote Selling Abilities

  1. Rethink Sales Enablement
  2. Rethink Sales Competencies
  3. Clarify the Lead Generation Sales Role
  4. Sales Leaders Need Enablement Help

Now, and forever it will be just Sales.

The global pandemic was the lever to accelerate fundamental changes in B2B selling that began years ago. With everyone remote for long periods, Inside Sales became the only option.

McKinsey & Company recently published insight from a survey of 3,600 B2B decision-makers in 11 countries and 12 sectors. Two insights related to remote selling were hard to miss:

• 96% of B2B sales teams have fully or partially shifted to remote selling, and
• 65% of B2B decision-makers say the remote selling model is equally or even more effective than what they were doing before the pandemic

I’ve heard similar sentiments from clients through most of 2020 and 2021, yet some are beginning to talk about things “going back to normal.” COVID vaccines will eventually help us get back to in-person physical interactions. Many sales organizations, customers and prospects, are looking forward to sitting across the table from one another.

To optimize the balance between remote and physical in-person selling, an organization should consider losing the inside sales terminology in favor of the term “Sales.” Doing so will demonstrate an appreciation of the tools, processes, structure, and mental models needed to adapt and compete in a post-pandemic marketplace.

 

Here are four considerations for your organization to strengthen remote selling abilities:

1. Rethink Sales Enablement

Sales organization structures often align with customer segments. For example, today’s Inside Sales teams might serve small businesses, field (geographic) sales to medium firms, and enterprise sales for large and global accounts.

In the past, the Inside Sales had been the only team enabled for remote selling. The thinking was that the other teams had to sell via physical in-person visits. Most B2B field and enterprise teams are following, rather than leading in the adoption of digital tools and engagement, so they need lots of help.

Enabling remote selling is much more than Zoom meeting logistics. For example, digital marketing is an essential element of remote selling. Sellers can’t wait for marketing to launch a marketing campaign; marketing must enable self-service options for salespeople to launch personalized campaigns when they need them.

2. Rethink Sales Competencies

Your best in-person sellers have unique talents when face-to-face with a client. Inside Sales teams have succeeded with a different playbook – often focused on process, task management, targeting, and phone skills (now video conferencing). Over time, the current Inside Sales teams may be the best candidates for future field and enterprise sales teams.

For today’s tenured outside sales teams, portions of the sales team may not be able to make the shift to remote selling. Sales enablement teams should focus on identifying and prioritizing the competencies that tenured sellers need to acquire. Remember that before the pandemic, the initial physical in-person meeting was the most important. Now it’s the initial video conference.

Also, there are more prospecting tools and sources of data than ever before. Tenured sellers may have access, but our experience shows that adoption and effective use of the tools and data sources is limited in many organizations.

3. Clarify the Lead Generation Sales Role

Many organizations have or are establishing inside sales teams to generate leads for the Outside Sales teams—the days of someone hammering the phones to feed leads to the “real salespeople” are dead. I mean, really dead.

Here is the interesting (perplexing) part. Many organizations staff inside sales teams with entry-level or outside hires with experience in a related industry. They then ask the individuals to penetrate the highest level of prospect companies and establish an outside salesperson appointment. Success rates in these scenarios are typically low.

I know that many teams experience with their lead generation teams, but unless the teams have made material enablement shifts in the past year, they’ll be challenged in 2021 and beyond.

Remember, the marketplace has shifted dramatically. Consider the following:
1. Many people are working remote, so they don’t answer their office phones
2. Digital marketing (primarily email) has exploded and now clogs the inboxes of corporate America.
3. Content marketing and social selling have become more personalized, making generic marketing content and corporate social posts outdated.

4. Sales Leaders Need Enablement Help

Sales leaders set the pace of the sales team. Remote selling is new to sales leaders as much as salespeople. Sales leaders need enablement support to manage their teams more effectively to train and coach on how remote selling interactions.

Here is a quick validation of remote selling skills;

How many of your sales leaders can conduct a video conference utilizing your conferencing tool’s Whiteboard feature?

If the answer is not all of them, you can expect that most salespeople may have the same limitation. 

Breaking the barrier between inside and outside sales team terminology is not semantics. Remember, 96% of B2B sales teams have shifted full or partially to remote selling.

Your organization’s sales teams now share more sales enablement, technology, and sales competency needs than ever before.

To that end, a holistic “it’s all Sales” approach can help teams better compete and prepare for remote selling success.

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