Are you prepared to manage a virtual sales team?
Over the last week, we’ve had several large clients reach out to us. They’ve asked staff to work from home — but how, they asked, does that apply to sales teams?
If you’re like most companies, you can’t afford to shut down sales for 2-4 weeks – let alone constantly be at the mercy of government policies on lockdowns, in-office policies &border restrictions.
So, we’ve put together this handy guide for you.
We’ve spent the last 10 years managing virtual sales teams, and know everything there is about how to make it work. In fact, with our strategies, many clients find their virtual teams out-perform their in situ teams by as much as 10x!
A lot of companies we speak to worry that taking their sales from face to face to phone will tank their conversion rates ? but nothing could be further from the truth!
Estimates are that it takes 7-12 touch points to get someone to the point
where they’re ready to sit down with you at a meeting. Phone conversions are much faster and can shorten sales cycles by up to
We currently have sales teams who are closing $40,000 plus deals in
2-3 days from cold traffic.
Further, sales reps are able to be far more productive and profitable when
they’re sitting in a room with just a phone — no lost travel time, no car or
One of our clients has a virtual sales team of only four members, who are
selling a $6,700 introductory package to a consumer audience, typically in one call, to leads generated off an Instagram ad campaign.
Last week, Danielle spent 31 hours on the phone. In that time, she made
more than 1,100 dials. She had 35 conversations, and made 3 sales for a total of $20,100.
Danielle has been working for the company for 12 weeks.
The only way to effectively manage a virtual team is to understand which metrics you need to be tracking — and to understand what they mean.
Most companies track conversion rates and little else — and while they might get away with that in an in-person setting, it’s not the most effective form of management and is potentially catastrophic for a virtual team.
Knowing the stats beyond calls / closes gives you much more control over the entire sales process — but even further, knowing which key metrics are the most important for your business becomes crucial.
Example: A client was having issues with a young salesperson on their team who was working in-house. His line manager was watching him dial, day after day, pounding the phones — but he just never got any sales over the line.
We asked him to track 15 different metrics for two weeks.
At the end of those two weeks, after 30 seconds of looking at his metrics, we said to his line manager:
The line manager was horrified — he assured us he’d been walking the floor and that he’d heard this salesperson dialling.
When the records were pulled we discovered the salesperson had been faking making calls, repeatedly dialling numbers with IVR or that wouldn’t answer, so that his time on phone looked like it was up to scratch, when in fact he was doing nothing.
This gave the client the opportunity to intervene and correct the behaviour, thus saving tens of thousands of dollars in lost productivity.
There are so many technological options when it comes to software, that it can fast become overwhelming.
Do you need new software or can you use an existing CRM?
Will spreadsheets suffice?
Our approach to technology is that less is more.
The fewer things you’ve got, the easier the transition will be. Very often, you can find excellent (and cheap) solutions, straight out of the box.
The important pieces for a virtual team to have are:
VoIP — allowing your staff to use their own phones comes with a myriad of problems from the admin of expenses, through to handover if a salesperson leaves. There are lots of VoIP options now available — many of which will also give you call recording and auto-dialling, depending on your budget.
Communication — isolation is a real issue for virtual teams. While chat channels like Slack are a go-to, we find that these are the least effective way to overcome the problem. Rather, we use a system of integrated daily meetings, along with chat channels and workflow management software, so that salespeople, managers, and executives can all be across exactly what’s happening in any area of the team at any given time.
This is incredibly important when you can’t just “walk the floor” and chat to people to see what’s going on — and when you’re dealing with salespeople who should be on the phone dialling all day, the last thing you want to do is distract them!
Lead tracking — even in a small team, nothing creates distrust and negative cultural issues in a sales team like poorly organised lead distribution. When salespeople feel as though they’re gladiators being forced to fight one another over who can get to the same sale in the fastest amount of time, this breeds resentment and poor behaviour.
That said — we also train sales people not to track large amounts of client data. What happens on a call should not be logged by a salesperson.
But here’s the thing: if your salespeople are closing deals within 2-4 days, this information isn’t useful. And if they’re not? Then this information becomes psychologically damaging either for them or for other salespeople who take over the account.
Logging every time a prospect says something mean, is generally rude or is in a bad mood isn’t useful — it simply prejudices the salesperson against that lead.
All long-term salespeople have had experiences where someone who was rude on a call one week, is perfectly delightful the week after. Prospects are people — they have terrible things happen in their personal lives. They have bad days. And this shouldn’t pre-frame a salesperson that they’re not worth talking to or that they’re not going to buy — because that’s categorically untrue.
For the last 11 years, Strategic Anarchy has been helping companies transition their sales teams to virtual operations — while maintaining (and often increasing) productivity.
We’ve shown our clients how they can have the sales team running like a well-oiled machine without the owner having to hit them with sticks every day to do their job properly.
Look, make no mistake, managing a sales team is tricky. Sales people typically are highly strung and emotional staff — especially the best ones. So you need to be either a master of sales yourself OR hire someone who knows how to handle them — otherwise you’ll constantly be buying their objections as to why they’re not making sales.
You’ll feel like you’re constantly on a roller coaster and unsure about what’s ACTUALLY coming in the pipeline. You need to know the facts, not the stories — because I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of them.
You need to know what metrics to be tracking to know who’s performing and who’s not. It’s not as simple as just hiring the extrovert that’s good with people and then the sales come flying through the door.
You need know when to coach your staff and tweak the sales process. You need to know when the leads are weak (hint: it’s NEVER about the leads).
But the most important thing is to know when and how to let underperforming team members go — because sales is not for everyone — and often the best sale a salesperson makes is getting you to hire them.
They’ll sell you on how they’re going to break all the records and be a top performer — and then they bring out every excuse under the sun as to why the deals just aren’t closing.
We’ve learned over the years that sales is a process. It’s predictable and repeatable. We’ve learned exactly what metrics you need to track to diagnose what’ going wrong. In fact, we don’t even need to listen to your team to tell you what’s broken and how to fix it. In fact, we’d like to show you exactly how that works — for free.
Right now, we’re offering a free sales audit where we’ll look at exactly what your sales team is doing right now and how that compares to the performance of others in similar industries.
Then we’ll look at what you can put in place to improve your specific situation with your team. This frequently results in a 10-fold increase in the performance of your sales team.
PS: Using this process we’ve walked onto sales floors, and taken their team from $0 to $100k of new sales —in a week. This is also the same process that one of our clients used to sell $1 million of a new consulting product in a week.
No website, no huge promotion, just our client, her phone and our guidance.
We’ve also used this audit process to help a client go from being on track to losing $2m a year from their turnover (a 30% drop) to being on track to a $1m gain in turnover — in 3 months working with us. In Melbourne. During COVID-19 lockdowns.
If you’d like to see those results with your team — you should totally take advantage of this free audit.