More and more people are working from home these days, and this includes salespeople. There are definite advantages to having salespeople manage a territory and work from their home. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with some serious disadvantages. One of the biggest is the general lack of situational knowledge that is gained by working with a group of people in a single place.
When everyone is working together in the same location, there are far more opportunities for conversation, formal and informal. There is an exchange of knowledge that isn’t easy to replicate when someone is working at an outpost. Sales organizations are going to have to do a better job of helping salespeople who are working from home.
Here are three ideas.
Share Tribal Knowledge
One of the biggest challenges of not being connected to the home office is the general lack of tribal knowledge. Salespeople working from home aren’t included in the communication that only occurs face-to-face, and they are missing a lot of context when they do receive information. We can try to keep salespeople updated with intranets and email, but it isn’t the same. It doesn’t feel the same, it’s one directional, and it doesn’t have the same result.
To improve this, you have to find ways to share tribal knowledge. You have to make time for more formal and informal communication, including webinars and small group meetings where the kinds of conversations that can happen face-to-face happen virtually. Video helps tremendously. So does dedicating time to just share what’s going on in the business.
Who are we competing against most often? What are they selling? Who has the hot hand on the sales team and why? What’s changing out there and what are we doing about it? These conversations aren’t part of the sales meeting we usually hold, but they need to be.
More Time at the Office
It’s hard to be disconnected. The longer you are disconnected, the more you feel that you are out of touch. The more frequently you can bring the salespeople from the outposts back to galactic headquarters, the better. The more often they can walk the halls, interact with their team, and spend time interacting with the rest of the company, the more they will feel connected to them.
Some salespeople almost never visit the rest of their team. Some only see the home office every year. This is too long to go without having real, face-to-face visits and communication with the rest of their team—and especially their sales managers.
In the old days, we transferred a lot of knowledge to the sales force by riding along with them on sales calls. This seems to have been all but abandoned. Now there is no transfer of knowledge. There are no curbside sales meetings after the sale call. There’s no informal sharing of information and feedback. Is it any wonder we aren’t doing well as we might be?
If your people make sales calls from home, you need to do a virtual ride-a-long. Listen to those phone conversations. If they are making virtual presentations, join those presentations and ensure that salesperson gets the feedback they need. Have the curbside sales meeting over the telephone or video. And make the opportunity to go and ride-a-long on real face-to-face sales calls, too.
Spend time transferring the knowledge and the feedback you would share if your salesperson worked down the hall, and help your remote sales force sell better.
What are the disadvantages of working remotely?
What does it cost the company to NOT have the salesperson working with their team?
What are your best ideas for helping transfer situational knowledge to remote sales people?
How do you ensure that your remote sales force is connected to the rest of the company?
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