Archived Webinar

A Remote Sales Force May be the Future — Is it Here Now?

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Presented by Laurie Kahn, president and CEO, Media Staffing Network

 What’s changed with the pandemic (besides everything)? Even with so many people idled now, be prepared for a very competitive market for good salespeople. Laurie Kahn: “You may be competing for talent with companies you have never had to compete with before.”

Sticking around. One reason for a competitive market traces back to a previous crisis: The 9/11 terror attacks. “After 9/11, people became very reluctant to relocate so you’ll have a smaller pool to draw from.”

Not sticking around. More than nine of 10 millennials come to their typical new job expecting to stay for less than three years, according to workplace.com. That puts them on pace to have as many as 20 different jobs in their career.

What’s also changed: Our expectations of sellers have changed. We have new products and must lay out goals and expectations. They need to research, cold call, do in-depth customer needs. They need to be able to present in person and digitally. We now expect them to do customer service.

Seller skill sets. Laurie Kahn sets out a long list including attention to detail, relationship building, category expertise, goal orientation, urgency and more. (The complete list is in the presentation.)

Introducing your CCOT: Your top sales manager will have to be a Chief Closer of Talent to retain quality salespeople. One recommendation is to tie part of compensation to retaining a full staff.

Take a new look at your job descriptions. Especially watch for things you don’t need. A common flaw: Requiring experience in media. Keep in mind, people are not going to relocate. You’ll be missing good people. And many clients these days want the perspective of someone who has experience outside of media.

The advantages of remote workers. They may be more productive. They’ll have a good work/life balance. They can even save you money. How? Consider that the cost of your office space can amount to as much as $10,000 per employee.

Go, team! Because turnover among your salespeople is a constant possibility, having two or more people teaming on an account ensures continuous service for your clients.  Their brainstorming results in better ideas. Working with a team helps new recruits ramp up and find their strength.

That’s right, go team! Here are some components of a sales team: Person One prospects for appointments and generates leads, which could be a part-time job. Incentivize that person by increasing compensation depending on appointments that lead to presentations, and appointments that result in a sale.

Person Two is the Road Warrior, who does needs analysis.

Person Three does sales research and designs builds presentations, which he gives to Person Two to make the presentation and close the sale.

Let’s talk pay. One idea: pay each a base salary with a pre-determined commission. Another: Heavier on commission with bonus incentives for the person getting appointments or making proposals. Another: Define a revenue goal based on earnings from a previous year, and pay a percentage, say 80%, of that in salary with specific quarterly goals.

Management by objective. It’s critical, especially for new people. This recognizes that new people will need time and hard work to build up a base of clients. Look at number of new appointments and new business presentations — things that are measurable.

Go team, clients also say. They are happy to get experts, and to know that there is a team behind the road warrior.

Next steps. Be prepared to fight for a team structure, which might not be how you operate now. Select team leaders. Recreate job profiles for each person on the team. Do training and get them out to meet clients.

Time out. Use this stay-at-home time to train your people on sales tools such as CRM systems. Do practice sessions for remote presentations. (You don’t want them starting the remote presentation and not being able to set it up properly.)   Use the technology available. Even little things matter: Does someone want a headset?

Sharing time. Job sharing will only get bigger because many millennials would rather work part-time. Laurie Kahn’s best practice: Have each person work three days, with one day in common. Also, consider teaming a newbie and a veteran on the cusp of retirement.

Laurie Kahn said it: “You will probably always get two strong employees for the price of one!”

Take it from Bill Gates. Flexible work options help companies, he said way back in 2005. "The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead. Companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge in this area."

Next steps to the sales team of the future:

  • Check your workflow to ensure sales aren't slipping under the cracks.
  • Build a “farm team” of assistants or part-timers who can be promoted.
  • Get close to your local colleges and let them know the opportunities you can give.
  • Listen, listen, listen to a candidate/salesperson’s goals and ideas about what really incentivizes them.
  • Invest in training and a solid onboarding plan.

You asked: How do you keep a remote staff motivated?  First, be sure to meet frequently on Zoom or on other remote communications systems. Have fun events like a contest or distribute small gifts. 

You also asked: How do you find new clients when so few businesses will be open for the next month? There are new businesses advertising now. One example was an ad Laurie Kahn just saw for headphones for people newly working from home. Think about the needs that you have at home and go after local providers of that product or service.

Want to follow up with Laurie Kahn? Contact her at laurie@mediastaffingwork.com or 480- 306-8930.

View Laurie Kahn’s PowerPoint presentation here (in PDF format).

View a recording of the webinar on our YouTube channel

Special thanks to Laurie Kahn for sharing the following tips for working remotely:

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