When implemented well, the changes in B2B sales required by a more digital sales environment will become opportunities to drive improvements in these key areas:
Remote rep management – If worker productivity remains steady or improves during work-at-home mandates, companies will see an opportunity to reduce costs on office space and improve employee morale by considering permanent, broad work-from-home policies. For sales leaders, this raises the challenge of managing reps in their homes in a way where reps attain peak productivity and their careers advance. Online learning, coaching and assessments will become the backbone of rep management in this new world. By keeping reps engaged and constantly learning (and having automated mechanisms to assess whether they’re engaged), it’s possible to achieve even greater productivity and career satisfaction with a remote workforce.
Digital onboarding – The COVID-19 crisis is causing the traditional “drink-from-the-firehose” style of in-person onboarding to give way to more individualized and personalized programs that provide new reps with incremental and ongoing training and coaching, in a largely digital format. This “agile onboarding” approach uses online content, eLearning, video and web conferencing to sequentially prepare new reps for various career milestones (first prospecting call, first discovery call, first presentation, etc.). Managers can also use assessments and scorecards to ensure new reps are achieving and maintaining mastery as they progress to full sales readiness and productivity. By bringing digital technologies to bear, sales enablement organizations can actually improve onboarding effectiveness.
Rep performance management – Today’s online scorecarding technology enables sales managers to identify how individual reps compare to the rest of the pack, and to correct rep skills deficiencies before they impact quarterly revenue. Scorecards are also a valuable tool for the pre-boarding and onboarding process, providing valuable insight into each rep’s journey from initial pre-boarding activity to full productivity.
Sales kickoffs – It is impossible to replicate the social aspects of sales kickoff meetings in a digital-only world. However, it is possible to implement the learning, coaching and certification processes that are typically part of the kickoffs.
When removing the artificial construct of a beginning and end of a physical meeting, the focus changes from “What should we teach them over three days?” to “What do they need to know to do their jobs?” This frees organizations from “death-by-PowerPoint” sessions, so they can instead adopt more engaging and incremental learning activities that enable reps to gain a deeper understanding of sales strategy, as well as the new knowledge and skills they will need to execute on that strategy.
Physical sales kickoff meetings will not disappear after the crisis passes, but they will likely evolve from point-in-time gatherings to longer-term initiatives where online learning and coaching begins before the meeting and continues afterwards. This will help organizations save money and open opportunities to reallocate budgets away from non-value-add physical meeting expenses to online continuous sales readiness initiatives that deliver greater direct benefits to sales force performance.
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