If your sales team primarily worked in an office before the pandemic hit, you’ve undoubtedly had to weather some extraordinary changes to how your business runs over the past few years. As the light at the end of the tunnel seems closer than ever, companies are finding a return to entirely in-office work to be unlikely. In a McKinsey survey, 85% of B2B organizations said they believed hybrid sales teams to be the norm for at least the next three years.
Hybrid sales mean a mixture of in-office and remote work. Sometimes workers will only meet once a week, or even more rarely. This is nothing new for some companies, but as it does present its challenges, we’ll outline some of the pitfalls of hybrid sales and how best to steer your ship through these new waters.
Build a customer-focused hybrid sales strategy
It’s important to realize it’s not just your sales team that’s had to adapt to extraordinary circumstances; it’s your customers, too. They all have had to face their own trials, so your new hybrid sales strategy should begin by considering what will please your customers most in this new world.
Remember, the ideal customer personas your company has thrived upon using are now likely to be incorrect. The McKinsey survey found that many businesses now prefer buying remotely, and confidence in purchasing big-ticket items without a face-to-face meeting has risen. Therefore, it’s time to re-evaluate who your best prospects are now and how best to engage with them.
Do your customers now prefer to discuss details via Zoom video chats? Or are they fed up with video conferencing and like to do things by email? Will they be able to convey all they want from your products over the phone if you choose to lean on sales call more? Or is there still space in the process for face-to-face meetings, albeit limited?
The answer to these types of questions should be the basis of your new hybrid sales strategy.
The risk of a fractured company culture
An interesting pitfall of a hybrid sales setup is the risk two company cultures form independently. When some people work in the office, and others work from home, two factions can form with unconscious biases against each other.
The in-office staff, unable to see the hard work the remote team puts in, can begin to believe those working from home aren’t pulling their weight. They may also harbor resentment because they still have to follow a more set routine and negotiate traffic daily whereas their remote-working brethren have more flexibility in how they work.
At the same time, remote workers can feel cut off and isolated from the company. Missing out on impromptu face-to-face meetings can leave remote workers feeling less heard on important company decisions. Teams can become siloed if you don’t take steps, as there are fewer opportunities for cross-function and cross-organization collaboration.
Effectively managing a hybrid team
The most crucial factor in hybrid sales team success is to maintain strong communication. Video conferencing is a valuable tool, so use it. Consider weekly team meetings, one-on-one check-ins with managers, and even daily online coffee breaks for office-based and remote staff to catch up.
When a sales team is getting used to hybrid work, having more meetings is likely to be of great benefit. But just as with face-to-face meetings, remote conference meetings should be carefully prearranged to be effective. Sensibly plan each meeting, deciding who must attend, what will be discussed, and what the goal is. Be willing to cancel pointless meetings or remove participants who don’t need to attend.
Miscommunication is more likely when people work remotely. When two people are working in the office together on a project, and a mistake is made, it’s often quickly noticed and rectified. To reach the same levels of efficiency when they work remotely, you must track projects closely. Use a call management platform with CRM integration, so much of this work is automated.
Clearly assign project duties and ensure all project participants can see the progress of the project and what they should be doing. Keep people accountable, updating how they’re progressing with their tasks, so there are fewer surprises.
Building hybrid sales team motivation
Keeping a hybrid sales team focused on the company’s mission is challenging. It starts by modeling the behavior you expect from your team yourself. Be prepared for meetings, demonstrate your passion, and always be available to discuss work matters, whether in person or virtually.
Communicate the objective of the team. What’s the vision of the company? Why are we doing this? If you can get participants to believe in the project, motivation quickly follows.
Instead of assuming hybrid sales teams will perform worse than before, set high and clear expectations. People are better motivated when they realize they can hit stretch goals they didn’t think possible.
Thanks to all your phone call analytics, you can foster a more competitive environment. With the use of an automated sales leaderboard, you can motivate your sales team to perform at their best. Those performing well are gratified that their hard work is being recognized, whereas sales team members with poorer results are inspired to go the extra mile.
Unleash your hybrid sales team’s potential
The shift in how sales are being performed is a fantastic opportunity for sales managers who recognize and adapt to the new requirements and the new needs of customers.
Set the best example, provide ongoing coaching to your team, and support them wherever you can. Demonstrate empathy for the unique challenges that each team member faces, and they’ll respond to your personal touch with a massive boost in motivation and performance.
Hybrid sales teams are here to stay, so it’s time you make the most of it by applying the right methods and tools.