Will Salespeople Travel or Continue to Work Remotely in 2022?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 01, 2021 @ 09:06 AM

May 29 was the day that nearly all COVID restrictions were lifted here Massachusetts.  How liberating! Or so I thought...

I went to the grocery store and was stunned to discover that I was the only person in the store not wearing a mask.  Either everyone in the store was unvaccinated, didn't believe the vaccine would protect them, or they were afraid to go out in public without the mask.

I returned to the store on Sunday and was stunned again when nearly everyone in the store was maskless.  It seemed odd that the masked and maskless numbers flipped in twenty-four hours but I loved it.  We were much closer to normal.  But it did get me wondering what normal means for sales teams moving forward.

My first attempt to understand how 2022 might look was to survey Objective Management Group's Partners (sales development experts that provide OMG's assessments to their clients).  Among other topics, we asked them two questions about travel and in-person training and here is what they had to say:

As you can see, roughly 30% are chomping at the bit to travel to an in-person event, but 20% are pretty sure they will be staying home.  While another 20% could be persuaded to attend, a huge group - nearly 30% - are undecided and would probably lean towards staying home.  So right now it looks split down the middle and these beliefs also reflect whether they would be comfortable leading in-person sales training events for their clients.

We also asked what kind of in-person event they would travel to attend and there was more clarity there, with longer, multi-day conferences having more appeal than shorter, one-day events.

Will salespeople be traveling in their territories, to their big customers, or to sales calls?

The answer appears to be, "It depends."

The decisions have a lot to do with what their companies are requiring them to do, what their customers need and are comfortable with, and salespeople finally being more comfortable selling virtually over video.  For a lot of old-school territory salespeople the transition to virtual was like pulling teeth and many of them can't wait to get back out there.  But will their customers allow them back on the premises?

Again, the answer is split with some customers saying, "Come on down!" and others saying, "No visitors."  In the US, a lot of it depends on geography with customers and sellers in red states much more comfortable with the old normal and customers and sellers in the blue states much more comfortable with the new normal.  In Europe, APAC, LatAm, and EMEA, the factors influencing a return to normal have more to do with containment of the virus with outbreaks continuing in many countries.

One of the big factors in all of this is school and daycare.  With many schools still closed, and some teacher's unions resisting orders to reopen in the fall, some parents are still forced to stay home and that trumps all of the other factors.

In conclusion, we are making progress, but we are still a hybrid mess with two parts fear, one-part comfort and three parts of the unknown all mixed together.  That means for the foreseeable future, there will still be a lot of virtual selling, servicing, training and coaching taking place.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, OMG Assessment, remote selling, selling virtually, sales travel

Why the Future of Selling Won't Resemble the Past

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Apr 17, 2020 @ 12:04 PM

past or present

It's April 17 and nearly every salesperson is selling from home.  It's just temporary, right?

Maybe.  But what if it's not? According to the President, Vice-President, Scientists and some Governors, the economy will begin reopening in stages, perhaps as soon as May 1.  So it's back to the office and your territories, right?  Wrong.  You'll still be home.  Welcome to the future of selling where I'll share my top five reasons why.

Reason #1 - School: Your kids are still home from school, they probably won't be back this spring, they probably won't be going to summer camp, and may not even be at school in September.  And if they're home, then your salespeople are home too.

Reason #2 - Efficiency: Once your salespeople have begun to sell not only remotely, but virtually via video conferencing, you'll quickly realize that they can meet with 6-8 prospects and/or accounts per day, compared with 2-3 when they're traveling in a territory.  Think about how much more business they can generate and how many more touches your customers will get from your salespeople?

Reason #3 - Cost: Depending upon your business model, the cost of cars, gas and maintenance, parking, airfare and hotel, meals and entertainment can be drastically reduced or even eliminated when your salespeople are selling virtually. 

Reason #4 - Coverage: Many companies don't have enough coverage to blanket the entire region, country, or continent.  Their customers are spread out so they deploy salespeople where most of their customers are.  With virtual selling, your salespeople can reach every customer that's out there.

Reason #5 - CRM Compliance:  Your salespeople have great excuses for not keeping their CRM up-to-date.  They were "traveling", "on the road", "away from their computers", "unable to get to it", or they forgot.  But when they are selling via the very same piece of hardware that their CRM is in, there are no longer any excuses for lack of compliance.  It will finally be time for them to live in CRM and you'll finally have the visibility into real-time data that you wanted when you invested in your CRM platform.

Although those five reasons as to why selling from home will become the new normal, you should be forewarned.  Selling from home is not without its challenges.  Three primary challenges will make selling from home difficult:

Challenge #1 - Only 41% of all salespeople are well-suited for working from home.  This speaks to whether they are self-starters, can work independently from a team, and can work without supervision.

Challenge #2 - Sales Managers will need to coach more, not less, increasing the time they spend on coaching to as much as 75%.  Unfortunately, most don't spend even 25% of their time coaching.  Sales Managers will need to huddle with their team twice per day despite the fact that most haven't even begun leading daily huddles yet.  Only 7% of all sales managers have the coaching skills required to coach up a remote team.

Challenge #3 - The new world of selling will appear very much like it appears today, only everyone will get better at it.  They must!  Selling has been pretty easy the past three years and despite that, fewer than half of all salespeople were meeting or exceeding quota.  It won't become easy again for quite a while.  Companies will either be on spending freezes, have money but not want to spend it on what you're selling, or if they are buying, will demand that you sell it for less than ever before.  All this at a time when it's more important than ever that you maintain your margins.  This will require your salespeople to master three competencies that most salespeople aren't very good at:

Competency #1 - Consultative Selling - only 15% of all salespeople effectively differentiate by listening and asking great questions

Competency #2 - Value Selling - only 41% of all salespeople have the ability to be the value

Competency #3 - Qualifying - only 31% of all salespeople can thoroughly qualify an opportunity

Good luck!

Image Copyright 123 RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, qualifying, value selling,, selling remotely, selling from home, selling virtually, video conferencing

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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