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New Times, New Ways to Run the Sales Team!

Authored by Jim Eberlin on March 28, 2020

Jim Eberlin is founder of TopOPPS.  Jim posted this blog on Linkedin. 

It was just a few weeks ago that I was preaching that in order to stay on top of things to give my team and customers what they needed, solve problems and make sure things don't fall through the cracks - I had to be in person.  Obviously that has changed - like it or not.

So, how does the work from home sales manager be effective in running her/his team?  There’s definitely changes that have to be made in how we personally interact, keep the team motivated and keep the team successful in selling.  Putting order and rigor around the following 2 areas will help sales leaders with their work from home teams: 

  • The virtual meeting routine
  • On-line Forecast, Pipeline Reviews and 1:1s

Before I get into the “how to” of these best practices for work from home sales managers - I just want to state the obvious.  Due to the current economic conditions for many B2B companies, more restraint than ever should be taken on the emotional ties to hitting the number and any frustration over committed deals that have been delayed.  The team will appreciate and be encouraged at your additional level of patience and confidence that things will eventually improve.  Also, they’ll appreciate the additional help, coaching or working through next steps with them.

All of us at TopOPPS want to do what we can to be of any service to you.  We have a few suggestions at the end of this blog to help you get these best practices in place quickly and effortlessly to keep your team organized and optimized.  And we’re offering a service for continuous learning and improvement. We want to help you get your sales/revenue operations airtight so you can stay on top of your pipeline and still execute.  Our hope is that with all the services we are putting into place, that you and your team will have something that helps the team and makes them better so that they can execute now and really hit the gas when we come out of this.

Here are a few tips that will help you sales leaders that are working from home with distributed sales teams and doing your best to make adjustments:

The Virtual Meeting Routine

Establish the cadence to meet with your team.  Regular sales meetings with the team and individual 1:1s or check-ins are common - but they will change in the current work from home environment.  You know your team and their experience levels, but there’s a lot of unknowns now so I think it’s best to error on more interactions with the team to ensure you can keep them focused, rolling and overcoming anything that can be an obstacle. 

Make your on-line sales meetings like you’re there in person - video cameras are on. Getting the lighting right is important - so that you don’t look like part of the witness protection program.  No one should be multi-tasking, reading emails or being distracted from activity at home.  I hold myself accountable to keep the meeting interesting and to make sure the content of the meeting is worthy of the team’s full attention.

I try to mix it up in the meetings to make it fun, funny (well at least I think it's funny), but always focused on making the team successful - that’s what they want more than anything else.

Online Forecast and Pipeline Review Process

For most B2B companies, staying on top of the team forecast and working opportunities through the pipeline is as important now as ever.  Better understanding of the opportunities and the prospect or existing customer helps us with providing them with what they want and the best next steps for engagement and meeting strategy.  As much time as possible in the on-line meeting should be reserved to talk strategy.  Traditionally, these meetings have the majority of time focused on opportunity compliance where the manager grills the rep on how qualified the opportunity is and whether they are talking to the right levels and buying roles.  The trick is balancing pipeline compliance time and pipeline strategy time.

The On-Line Dashboard

Our metrics tell the story.  And in the meeting, I move left to right on these metrics asking questions and finding answers.   We have no more than 10 metrics that tell the complete story per point of view.  Here’s what we do:

  • We start with the Quota, then we look at what’s closed won and see what kind of gap we have to fill. To fill the gap, I set rules for the best deals with the most potential.  My rules are based on what happened in the last conversation, the role(s) involved, key activities, reactions by the buyers and where we’re at in the sales cycle.  Let me know if you want me to go into this further and how we score opportunities.
  • Now we can quantify what deals we need to close to fill the gap and we can talk about the next steps on each of these deals.
  • We then look at what's changed - which of our top deals slipped and why. Then we look at any deals that advanced to the middle and later stage.

Focus on the total team number first - talking only to the opportunity owners that will fill the gap.  Then you can focus on the individual team members in a similar fashion either in your team sales meeting or one on one. 

The way we have this organized and automated maximizes our time to talk about our top opportunities strategy and reduces the effort required to determine compliance and qualifications.  It also gives us insights and prescriptions based on the scenarios and selling motions for proper next steps. 

The remaining best practices for a holistic predictable revenue operation will be addressed in a weekly blog over the next five weeks.  The topics will include: 

  • The Pipeline (Buyer and Seller Aligned Process)
  • Pipeline Analytics
  • Account Coverage - how to measure effectiveness
  • Coaching and Learning reinforcement - by scenario and the team's personal results
  • Holistic Predictable Revenue - the complete revenue picture

How we can help you

At TopOPPS we can help your sales leadership, sales operations leadership and sellers with our solution - easing the burden of admin activities while helping each role do their jobs better. We’re offering that to you for three months free to get you through the current economic conditions without the expense.  Click here for more information. 

Additionally, we’re going to be holding office hours with top sales leadership and top analysts with more tips on leading your sales team - we’ll be publishing these times that we’ll be on-line and live on our website.

We are in this with you - let’s figure it out and come out of this together even better than what we were before!  Let us know if there's anything more we can do to help you.

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