Remember the record player? Remember removing your favorite record from its sleeve, delicately holding it on the sides, gently placing it in the record player, and then taking your time to place the needle just right? Remember getting up off the couch to flip the record over in order to listen to the rest of the album?
We have to admit that records were awesome in their day but, skip a few tracks into the future and we see how antiquated records have become. Now, we just search and download our favorite music, create our own playlists, switch tracks with a simple touch or voice command, and listen to it while relaxing or while on the move.
This is what’s currently happening with the sales process—the process is ADVANCING! The “Face-to-Face” type of sale isn’t as necessary and, in some cases, is becoming a detriment to the buying process. More and more sales are enabled by inside sales professionals that work remotely from home.
Historically, inside sales people worked in regional/ HQ offices. This was done to help people feel part of the team, aide in training, help leadership better manage, motivate and support reps. Now remote inside sales people can develop relationships with coworkers and be trained through web-based communication and training tools. Sales leaders can also track activities through web tools to easily manage and support their teams. There are also advantages to having a remote sales force, but our clients tell us the biggest advantage is a vastly large talent pool from which to select superstars.
Once committed to developing an outside sales force, there are at least five keys in optimizing your remote team:
- Pick your model. Plug and play or hire and train. Hiring “plug and play” people that have the near exact experiences required for the job has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, you have minimal ramp time; yet, it makes your candidate pool smaller and harder to qualify, as most quality candidates want to advance their careers verses taking a lateral step. “Plug and play” can easily end up as a staple full of mediocre players. “Hire and train” also has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, there is more ramp time and there are more training resources to be developed. However, these folks are usually less expensive, and if you hire the right attributes, you can end up with a bunch of superstars. The key is to pick and optimize one model or the other. It is very difficult to optimize and mix both models.
- Clear, yet simple, ideal candidate scorecard. If you are hiring “plug and play”, the hiring stakeholders must be clearly aligned on the key experiences and achievements that will predict success in the role. If you are hiring “hire and train”, the hiring stakeholders must be aligned on the attributes that will predict success in the role.
- Closing the best candidates. The best candidates have the most choices. Just like you sell your services or products, you must sell the opportunity and your company to the candidates. You must create a clear unique value proposition for the role, understand the candidate’s motivations to make a move, and throughout the interview process, clearly communicate and demonstrate the career fit for the candidate.
- Fast to hire, fast to fire. “Slow to hire, fast to fire” no longer works for top talent. You must have your interview and qualification process nailed down and zipped up tight. In no way are we saying to short circuit the qualification process. We are saying you must have it documented and be able to execute it efficiently or you will often lose the best talent to competition that is built to move faster than you. On the other hand “fast to fire” still works. If you are paying close attention in the first 90 days of a hire, you likely know if you have made a good decision or not.
- Leverage technology. Now that you have the right person on board you will need to help them to be successful. We hear this from clients consistently. You have to pay close attention to your remote sales people and they need to know you are paying close attention. Sales force automation systems help to closely monitor activities and key performance metrics for management and training of remote sales people. With the right systems, you can manage a remote sales team with an effort similar to what it takes to manage an inside team.
Hopefully, this posts helps you find success in optimizing your remote team. We love helping recruit and build remote teams. Please do not hesitate in contacting us if you have thoughts or questions.