Working remotely has suddenly become the new normal, and I suspect many leaders have discovered that this remote work thing can actually work, even once the current crisis is resolved.
It could permanently transform the workplace allowing for more flexible working arrangements and work from home options.
But as great and forward-thinking as these changes may seem, they won’t work for everyone. For example, not every salesperson is well-suited to work remotely. The Objective Management Group already has data on it. It indicates only 41% of salespeople are suited to work remotely. Uh-oh!
Remote work benefits
As a manager, you might think this remote work thing is going great. Have you enjoyed the absence of the continuous stream of people walking into your office and asking questions? Have you regained output by eliminating drive-to-work time? Maybe you’ve noticed that office politics have been eliminated or at least greatly reduced making time available for more important pursuits.
Only 41% of salespeople are suited to work remotely.
Objective Management Group
Unfortunately, while your sales team may enjoy their new-found freedom as well, the benefits of working from home may be detrimental to the majority of them and you will need to use some of your new-found time to keep the team on track.
During this WFH state of business, it is critical that you do these three things with your teams:
Increase your interaction
Consider check-ins or huddles in the morning and checkouts at close of business to bookend the day with structure, focus, and camaraderie
Ensure you have at least weekly 1 on 1 coaching sessions with each team member.
Set specific goals and expectations with each individual
Include different metrics and KPIs than before, if necessary
Ensure buy-in from each individual that they will own their own plan
Make a game out of it – which allows for achievement – even if buyers aren’t buying
Making the Choice
Given the opportunity to choose, I’d bet that many of your salespeople would prefer to work independently and even without supervision, but is it really the best thing for them, their sales revenue, and the growth of the company? As we consider heading back to the office in the coming weeks, don’t bet your future pipeline and sales on what a salesperson wants to do. Use data and science to determine what will work best.
Just what are the traits that enable someone to be effective working remotely? The way OMG measures it is via these primary attributes:
Works without supervision
So, if you find these traits within your team and choose to allow a more flexible work environment then be sure to set clear expectations: Be prepared to increase your interaction with those that work remotely, require the individual to articulate their plan of attack in writing (in other words, how will they ensure the same or greater sales growth?) and be clear that this is a revocable privilege should activity decline, sales suffer or undue burdens be placed on others in the organization.
Need for Supervision
A word about the desire to work without supervision…
Even high performers need coaching to ensure they continue to develop. Since we analyze numerous sales organizations each year, we consistently find that many salespeople would prefer to self-manage as opposed to their manager providing oversight. It would be easy to chock that up to high-performers’ ego, but I decided to look more closely. Typically, it is because the sales manager is not providing any value to the salesperson.
Road Bumps Ahead?
Allowing salespeople who are poorly suited to work remotely ongoing, will create more problems for managers and leaders down the road, so be thoughtful in your plans. Suitability for working remotely is a skill that we measure when we help clients develop their sales teams and when we help them hire, and we’d be happy to help you.
Gretchen Gordon is the founder of Braveheart Sales Performance, a consulting firm specializing in sales team transformation. A self-proclaimed “Sales Nerd” with over 27 years of sales, sales leadership and sales team transformation experience, she spends most of her time working directly with client companies and helping them improve their sales effectiveness and exceed their sales goals. Gretchen is also a frequent guest speaker for industry events and webcasts, and has been featured on the radio talk shows “Meet the Sales Experts” and "Sales Coaching over Coffee." She is also an accomplished writer, having been featured on industry-leading sites like SellingPower.com and SecurityInfoWatch.com. She authors a “Top 50 Sales Management Blog,” according to Docurated.com, and has published sales-focused eBooks, including “The 5 Essentials of Effective Sales Management” and “Cold Calling in the 21st Century.”