Most sales leaders are currently experiencing the shock of managing a remote revenue team.

In this four part series, we’ll seek to better understand why some companies are struggling much more than others in adapting to remote work, highlight the new disciplines for winning in this environment, and share immediately actionable tips that will provide much needed relief in your sales process.

Pt 1 – The Challenge (What’s Changed?)

The truth is that even before remote work, managers were already struggling to know exactly “what their reps were doing all day”.  This understanding of rep activity is what drives three of the biggest initiatives in sales management – onboarding (ramp time), optimizing (quota achievement) and offboarding (PIP’ing) reps.  The rise of the “quiet sales floor”, driven by a millennial workforce, working in a flexible office environment, spending their entire day ‘click click clicking’ on computers instead of ‘picking up the phone’, have been keeping managers up at night for the better part of a decade.

This anxiety is understandable.  Just as the stakes have increased (see Why a Great Rep drives 9x more revenue than a bad one and is infinitely more profitable“), visibility has decreased, leaving management with an extremely limited toolkit.

This toolkit has mostly been comprised of:

  • Incomplete data: 55% of activity data doesn’t make it into CRM.  27% of activity data makes it into the CRM and isn’t associated with the right objects.
  • Micromanagement: this involves tailing a rep throughout the day on their calls/meetings and building a model/understanding of their behavior, activities and outcomes.  This is mathematically impossible to scale.
  • Anecdotes: this involves asking the reps for information in 1:1s, pipeline reviews and frequent ‘pings’ through various channels.  This tool fails as well because 1) reps don’t have the skills/knowledge to pick up on key subtleties in the deal, 2) information is largely stale by the time the manager gets it and 3) this is subjecting to gaming/omissions.

In a “high bandwidth” office environment and busy sales floor, a TOP manager can get away with this toolkit.  Since managers are close to the information source, they can “ping” reps frequency and “download” vast amounts of information in short periods of time.  When moving to a remote work situation, the available “bandwidth” goes down by 10x and leaves managers stuck in all day 1:1’s trying to make up the difference. 

At the same time, winning just got a whole lot harder all at once.  Economists are forecasts a $4 TRILLION revenue shortfall this year in the United States alone, which is putting many companies into survival mode (low investment + cost cutting).  This means a lower number of opportunities, lower win rates and lowering prices all at once.

BUT – it’s not all gloom and doom.  Many companies we’ve spoken to are making the transition to remote just fine, and some are even seeing an uptick in their business; the management tools and structures that made them succeed in good times are giving them an even more unfair advantage over their competitors.

So what are these elite group of companies doing?

In the following articles, we’ll share case studies and immediately actionable strategies that can help you adapt to current market conditions (and when good times come back, position you to dominate your market).

In the next article, we’ll SHOW you the math behind why the traditional sales management model is breaking down with remote work, and what the levers are that sales leaders need to pull to change the equation.

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