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April 10, 2020

Sales and Marketing Advice

The joy and rewards of selling remotely

Ron Stein | 3/16/2020

A few years back I read about a company with a three-word business plan that simply stated, “No office ever”. They were a consulting firm and that made sense – get out of the office and close to your prospects and active clients.

The challenge with this company only revolved around how to be more productive and manage remote work teams

But, how about selling remotely? Now you are managing a sales process and buyers scattered around the region, nation or perhaps the globe. The issue then is all about the best way you build a relationship with a prospect or customer you’ve never met in person – and close the deal.

You know the old adage, to be successful in sales, you must get out of the office and press the flesh – not something we can always do because of resource or time limitations. Or maybe it’s not something we want to do when flu season (or a global pandemic!) is in full swing.

Distant selling breaks down into three primary problems: managing the processes and your salespeople; the best way to build a relationship during each step of the customer lifecycle; and what technology to use.

Without a doubt, it’s a challenge. Add in factors like time zone differences and the lack of impromptu meetings at the water cooler to brainstorm with others, a distributed team and selling strategy can be a recipe for disaster. Let’s face it, we’re human and some tasks are best when performed in person, face-to-face.

Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way.

The starting point – people and processes. Working remotely isn’t for everyone; selling remotely is even more challenging. Look for signs that someone has been productive and successful outside of an office full time. Then provide streamlined training, communications, reporting, and tracking requirements and the tools to support these. The key here is “streamlined”. A great sales rep wants to sell and not be dragged down by a lot of process and paperwork. On the other hand, it can’t be a free-for-all. Balance is needed, grasshopper. Become an expert at minimalism; just enough to effectively manage and help your sales team accomplish their goals so that they can sell, sell, sell. Trust the senior people you’ve hired to perform while at the same time getting what you need from them to efficiently run your business.

Keep remote sales teams sharp. One of the best ways to help new and seasoned salespeople meet the company’s revenue goal is by offering product and sales strategy training. But you may not want to disrupt selling time too often and sit them in a room for hours on end. Video conferencing will work. However, you can’t leave that on all day, especially when reps need on the fly coaching most of the time. For instance, just before a phone call (or video chat) with a buyer it’d be great to brush up on that new product you just introduced. The other issue is simply getting their attention, particularly if they are independent sales reps that carry other vendors’ offerings. The solution is a mobile app that provides on-demand sales force engagement and education using gamification that “rewards” them for training. Using a smart phone or iPad, you’ll have your sales team’s attention, A branded app created by Modernized Mobile will challenge remote sellers to learn and keep up to date with the latest information, presentations, as well as recorded and live video too. 

Communications is central to relationship building. Most people find it easier to build rapport with a client by talking in person. It’s easier to connect with another person when sitting across the table, prove your expertise, and demonstrate that you value someone because you’re committed to taking the time to be there. However, you can accomplish much of this in other ways when selling remotely. Go through the entire customer journey you typically experience for your target audience. At each stage of the buying cycle think about what you need to build trust and move the relationship to the next level, i.e., each step of the cycle. It begins with getting qualified leads and that means supporting your reps with focused inbound marketing at a minimum, and perhaps with outbound sales development representatives from a third-party such as The Selling Factory for prospecting, qualifying, and outreach. Have a complete arsenal of tools such as an email platform with automated marketing features, video conferencing and screen presentation capability, and video email. Know when in the selling sequence to use them and how to use them. And don’t forget the telephone!

Oh no, what technology do we choose! You already know that it’s possible to spend a month or two of your life researching marketing and selling tech platforms. And as soon as you think you’ve found what works; a new offering comes along that claims to be best in class. Rule number one is keep it simple. All you need is a solid email marketing service (I like Mailerlite), video email (look at BombBomb), a purpose-built customer relationship management system (Salesflare is great), easy to use webinar and video conferencing services (check out Live Webinar, Crankwheel, and UberConference), a flexible team communications program (Slack), and a project management tool for tracking more complex sales processes (look at KabanFlow, Asana, and Monday.com).

You can build a well-oiled remote selling machine. Just think through how you’ll communicate with your sales team and what tools they’ll need to communicate with buyers. And don’t forget about training – the lifeblood of professional salespeople.

Ron is the founder of FastPath Marketing and More Customers Academy. He works with tech-enabled companies, helping them find the fastest path to revenue with executive advising, business development coaching and consulting, as well as marketing and selling training. As an accomplished tech industry business leader and entrepreneur, Ron has served in top-level sales, marketing and business development roles ranging from emerging companies to global tech giants, including as the CEO of a venture-backed wireless startup. Ron is on the advisory board of the University of Florida’s two internationally recognized tech business incubators and writes a popular column on how to grow revenue in the award-winning Florida Trend business magazine. Learn more at www.FastPathMarketing.com. Ron can be reached at 727-642-4246 or by email.

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