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Our hearts go out to those whose family members have fallen ill, as well as to those impacted by closures and layoffs.
Many of us have family and businesses to worry about and care for. As VP of sales for a successful Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE partner located in Toronto, Canada, I’ve been able to easily transition to a work-from-home model as has our entire company. My role is to manage the sales team.
I’m sure many sales leaders are wondering how to keep going under changing circumstances. Unlike some occupations that require in-person participation, Sales has been moving toward online solutions for a while. The current situation just accelerates the need for that move if we want to continue to do business.
There are four key pillars of a successful virtual sales model:
• A structured sales process
• Tools to support and enable the process
• The ability to measure in real-time what is happening
• A 360-degree view of your customers and prospects.
Does your company have all four in place at the level required to survive and even flourish in the days ahead?
Let’s take a closer look at each of the four pillars.
A structured sales process
Having a structured sales process is crucial, especially in a virtual environment. Digital marketing and social media will play a role, but each sales rep needs a plan for what they should be accomplishing each day, e.g., who should they be contacting, when, and with what goal? Should they use email or phone? Sometimes cold calling works; another method of locating prospects is the use of social tools such as LinkedIn for social selling. Either way, each sales team must have goals, an activity plan, and a coach to keep them focused.
Other things to consider are how to manage your sales team remotely through these stages of the sales process:
- Inbound or outbound sales lead prospecting & qualification
- Sales opportunity fact gathering and can we win assessments
- Sales effort and cost of sales assessment
- Sales presentations and demonstrations
- Planning for and managing objections
- Negotiation and closing
- Accurately forecasting
In a virtual sales environment, these critical processes are much more difficult unless the process is clear to everyone and your work-from-home tools are set up to support your reps.
Tools to support and enable the process
Not long ago, I would have said that as long as you have the sales process set up, the tools don’t really matter that much. You could get by, in a pinch, with a spreadsheet, a phone, and a car. In our new reality, however, that has changed. At least for now, it is impossible to meet with clients face to face, and we have no idea how long this will last. But, having the capability for virtual sales will not only allow you to survive now but to flourish in the future. We have been using this model for years and helping our customers leverage it too.
Since we are a Microsoft partner, I’m going to recommend to you the tools we use.
I recommend the Microsoft suite of remote worker tools:
• Microsoft Office 365 for email, calendar, tasks and contact management
• Microsoft Teams for phone calls, conference capability, presentations where you can share your screen
• Omnichannel communication capability (social, chat, web and telephony)
• Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM for sales, marketing & customer service
• Optional: Customer insights for data consolidation and AI-driven insights
With our new reality, could you imagine running your business with no web site, no email or telephone capability? For many of us, losing our social media tools would negatively impact our businesses.
Managing a virtual sales team is all about the tools. The tools need to be set up to reinforce the structured sales process described above. Take a good hard look at your tools and make sure you have optimized them to work for you.
There is an old saying, “What gets measured gets done.” If you are at home, your sales team is at home, and your customers are at home, how do you measure what needs to get done?
If you have Microsoft Dynamics 365, you have built-in charts and dashboards to help you. You also may have Power BI, which gives you incredible reporting and measurement capability. Measure and inspect what you expect and provide feedback to your team regularly.
Data is at the core of sales success. If you can use the information you have about your current and prospective customers, your communications will be much more relevant and successful. Start thinking about bringing your data from the different systems you use today to manage your customers. The secret to what your prospects will respond to is in the data. Microsoft has a tool called customer insights that gathers the data from your sources and uses AI to tell you what the data reveals. This information helps you run campaigns that are much more targeted and relevant to your prospects.
As sales leaders, our teams and our organizations are relying on us for leadership. Look to others for advice and help as you continue to put your business continuity plans in place.
Many years ago, my mentor gave me this advice: decide what three to six things you want your team to focus on and make sure each person entirely understands them. Then measure and coach to those expectations.
You’re not in this alone. The sales leader community is very close and willing to help.
By CRM Dynamics, www.crmdynamics.com