On Today’s Daily Briefing, Jim Benton was joined by Lori Richardson, the CEO of Score More Sales and Founder of Women Sales Pros. They discussed the challenges sales professionals face due to blending work and life like never before, and the unexpected productivity of teams who are now remote.
Here are the numbers:
- Meeting volume has been relatively steady, though down 8% this week
- 50% more sales executives and 74% more sales directors are joining calls
- 60% more buying-side executives and directors are joining calls
Before they dove into the data, they discussed advice for sales professionals working from home and blending work and life like never before.
“This can be a real challenge,” said Lori. “If you’re a family and have kids, it’s a whole new ball game. When I was coming up in sales, I was a single parent.” Parents have a challenging job right now, she added.
For leaders, the important thing you can do is communicate. “I’ve been aligned with sales teams my entire career. The best thing we can do is over-communicate and understand each reps’ situation. Really be involved in what they’re working on,” she said. “Not micromanaging, but let them know that what they do matters and making them feel supported.”
Focus on the important things.
Fatigue may be taking its toll on meeting volume
Meeting volume has been relatively steady, though down 8% this week.
“There’s a lot of energy to get back out there,” said Jim, “but a bit of fatigue. Are you finding yourself working differently?”
“I've never been on more Zoom calls in my life,” said Lori. “It can be crazy. I think you have to focus on what is urgent versus important. Focus on the important things. If I’m a rep, I have to focus on what’s going to help me grow revenue.”
When it comes to the numbers, Lori wasn’t surprised. But she did offer that if a sales professional likes working from home, you should do your due diligence to show your productivity. “If I was a rep and working from home and I liked it,” she said, “I would be documenting everything.”
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Advice for leaders, focus on individual circumstances
“There’s a lot we don’t know about this research,” said Lori, “this is showing that the gap is closer now. Which is a good thing.”
When it comes to coaching a well rounded, productive team, Lori has some ideas. “I would work with individual people,” she said. “To let them know I care about them and that they’re a unique person, not just one of many in the team.”
It’s important to take individual circumstances into account. “Women tend to be the primary caregiver, even without kids. I have a colleague who’s my age but has a mom in assisted living. We may lose some of the women in sales teams because if I have the same quota and show fewer meetings, I may try a different job where I have less quota to hit.”
Leaders should be there to offer support, but not necessarily rescue reps.
Availability and support from leadership in deals
50% more executives and 74% more directors are joining calls. And that’s just the selling-side.
With leaders joining more calls, Jim asked Lori what advice she has for sales professionals, and how they should run these calls.
“They should run the call, not defer to the leader,” she said. “The leader and rep should talk in advance about who should do what. You wouldn’t want the leader to do more than they should. Leaders should be there to offer support, but not necessarily rescue reps. If they continue rescue reps, won’t teach them how to do it themselves.”
That being said, Leaders may also need more coaching.
“Working from home isn’t for everybody. Leaders have to really understand how to best motivate and inspire their reps,” she said.
“I’ve seen some fun contests going on,” Lori said. “But I like having my leader in front of me once a day. Morning and end of the day, even. You should be asking ‘What are you excited about today?’ Not just ‘Are you hitting your numbers?’. We can’t close a deal every day, so you need something to get you excited. It’s about conversations.”
Buying leaders continue to join calls
60% more executives and directors from the buying-side are joining calls compared to pre-COVID meetings.
“If I can get other people involved in the buying decisions early,” said Lori, “why wouldn’t I?”
Lori said that it’s about arming your sales professionals. “Prepare ahead of time,” she said. “We’re seeing discussions now about implementations happening down the road. People are positioning for the future. It’s a good thing, but you have to be prepared.”
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Changing workplace, lasting effects of working from home
There have been a lot of surprises coming out of the sales world, not the least of which is how and where we work.
“It’s been amazing,” said Lori. “I know a lot of people say that they would never let their reps work from home. But if I can accomplish more sitting at my home office, why not? I think people will start thinking about what companies they’re working for.”
Enterprise selling may look a little different.
“ I think it’ll be more of a blended approach,” said Lori. “We won’t have to go onsite for everything. It’s more of a lifestyle. It’s going to be hard for people who are used to being on the road and not managed as much. They’ll have to transition to being held more accountable.”
Jim thinks that there will be excitement around getting back to meeting in person, though the meetings will look different. “I think there will be fewer conference rooms and powerpoints, and more events. We’ll look to connect with customers through experiences.”
“I’m sure it’ll turn out well,” he added, “it’s just a matter of when.”