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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

Are you in control of your remote sales team? - advice from sales-i

Date: Wednesday 21 April 2021

IAAF member sales-i has developed advice for businesses as remote working is now embedded in most sales operations, as it is essential to ensure that teams have the right tools and approach.

The pandemic has led to major changes in the way sales teams go about their business – with remote selling, pitching and customer relationship management all now routine across many sectors. And it looks as if this approach is here to stay, with most businesses gearing up for a different future rather than going ‘back to normal’. Most forward-thinking businesses are now doing everything they can to help sales professionals maximize their effectiveness and productivity when working remotely. Here are four accessible strategies to help your business emulate them.

Count on collaboration
At a time when face-to-face communication is so widely limited, fostering a culture of collaboration within your team can pay major dividends. Sales leaders who make connecting with remote sales reps a priority and go the extra mile to facilitate opportunities for remote employees to professionally and socially interact with colleagues and management can rapidly embed trust and rapport across an organisation, boosting morale and motivation to work towards a shared goal. What’s more, recent data shows that companies that adopt sales team collaboration grow by more than those who don’t.

"Data-driven selling has become increasingly normalized in wholesale distribution businesses over recent years"

Shifting into top gear
In 2021, the phrase ‘time is money’ has never been more applicable to sales strategy. The rapid shift to remote selling and digital buying that we have seen over the past year, means swift communication with customers is more important than ever. Today, speed is critical to customer experience – recent survey findings show a third of customers expect a business to respond to their query within an hour or less, yet the typical company takes some 12 hours to respond to an email. This puts the onus on sales leaders to find ways to accelerate the speed of communication with their teams to provide them with the very latest actionable detail regarding client activity and engagement.

Grabbing the tools of the trade
The best performing sales organisations of the past year immediately understood the importance of equipping their sales teams with enhanced technology from the outset of the pandemic, making available simple but powerful provisions, such as unified communications systems, standardized network access and company-wide collaboration platforms. They also recognized the huge value that lies within customer data.

"50% of sales leaders say better data holds the key to better sales team productivity."

Having access to key customer purchasing metrics can be one of the most powerful tools in any salesperson’s arsenal, yet all too often this detail is locked away in impenetrable spreadsheets, misinterpreted or not used at all. A sales enablement platform like sales-i delivers daily insights to sales professionals regarding their key customer buying behaviours, meaning they can quickly and easily identify trends and precious cross and upselling opportunities and make swifter decisions compared to their less tech-enabled counterparts. Data-driven selling has become increasingly normalized in wholesale distribution businesses over recent years and with good reason. According to recent research from the Revenue Enablement Institute, some 50% of sales leaders say better data holds the key to better sales team productivity. If your teams are still relying on spreadsheets to inform customer relationship management today, 2021 is definitely the year to reconsider.

Redoubling your focus where it counts
In periods of muted sales, there can be a temptation among some sales operations to cast the net wider to embrace new targets in the hope of attracting new customers. The experiences of the past twelve months have taught us that, in fact, the opposite course of action is likelier to yield success and we witnessed many sales teams employ a laser like focus on protecting and nurturing existing relationships rather than waste time on dead-end leads. Sales teams doubled down their efforts to get closer to existing customers after the pandemic hit and with uncertainty the order of the day for the time being, this impetus is likely to continue in the months ahead.

Proactive planning in uncertain times
While the new normal might mean that sales directors won’t see their teams as much as they used to pre pandemic, this thankfully needn’t prevent them from delivering proactive and supportive leadership to encourage peak performance and maximum engagement.

This year will undoubtedly bring new challenges to sales operations everywhere, but by staying connected, maintaining open channels of communication, setting specific goals and providing the right sales tools for them to thrive, businesses can set their sales teams up for success, wherever they are based.