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Managing a sales team with hybrid working
How to enable and manage a hybrid sales team
In a recent study, 83% of workers said they prefer a hybrid working model. In other words, they want a balance between working on-site and working from home. Given, hopefully, the passing of the worst of the global pandemic, many sales teams across the country are now permanently hybrid. But what does this mean for sales managers? How do you get the most out of this new working situation? Let's find out.
What does hybrid working look like for sales roles?
Hybrid sales simply means a mixture of on-site and remote work. While this has been the norm for some sales teams (particularly those focusing on field-based work) for years, it is a novelty to many organisations. The key to adapting to a hybrid working model is ensuring you can still get the most out of your sales team. You can achieve this by establishing clear boundaries and expectations, regardless of where your team is located.
Creating a flexible working policy is a good place to begin if you don't have one already. It enables your staff to work the hours that best suit their daily patterns, but it also ensures they understand what is expected of them when they're not in the office. After all, just because the working environment has changed, their role remains the same. While your staff should be able to adapt to the hybrid arrangement, what does it mean for your customers?
Initiating a customer-focused hybrid sales strategy
When you commit to a hybrid working arrangement, you need to think about your new system's impact on your customers, not just your staff. Your clients have also experienced a tough few years and have to adapt and amend many of their policies. Therefore, it's your job to ensure your sales team and customers are singing from the same hymn sheet.
This is likely to necessitate establishing a new, customer-focused hybrid sales strategy markedly different from what you have done in the past. Research from McKinsey (https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/omnichannel-in-b2b-sales-the-new-normal-in-a-year-that-has-been-anything-but) has found that customers are more than willing to negotiate big-ticket sales remotely instead of in person. This is in line with increased spending on a fully remote/digital sales model, as buyers are aware that the digital space is now very much the way of doing business.
So, while the corporate golf days and the Wembley FA Cup final experience might still be a part of your sales strategy, they may not be as important as investing in your digital platforms to meet your clients' requirements. Ultimately, you will need to engage with your sales team and ensure that your strategy reflects your customers' expectations. You will find that software like Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Skype will play integral roles in your B2B transactions. And, you need your sales team to be on board with any changes you implement.
Enabling and managing a hybrid team
One of the biggest challenges of managing a hybrid team is the risk of a fractured workplace culture. Teams that were once all-in-it-together might now be divided, forming unconscious biases against one another based upon their working arrangements. It's your job, then, to enable and manage your hybrid team effectively. Here's what you need to consider:
- Communication - How you keep in touch with your team and how they communicate with each other is vital in a hybrid working environment. Ensure they have the tech and support needed to ensure seamless communication with all parties. This is vital.
- Sales meetings - When your team starts working from home, they will feel more isolated than they have done in the past. Consider scheduling focused daily sales meetings (30-60 minutes should suffice) for your sales team to check in with one another via a video conference.
- CRM integration - When your team isn't in one location, ensuring you use a cloud-based call management platform is crucial. Everyone needs to access the various leads and latest enquiries that the sales team is responsible for, so make sure they can access this key information easily.
- Accountability - Some hybrid teams struggle with a lack of accountability when employees work remotely. It's your responsibility to maintain accountability and ensure your team delivers work on time and meets its targets. Regularly checking in and communicating well will help keep your team on task when they're not in the office.
Another thing to mention here is that it's important not to micro-manage your team when they start working remotely. Your employees want you to trust them, and it's your responsibility to enable them to achieve their targets.
Challenges of hybrid working and how to combat them
Switching to a hybrid working arrangement isn't easy, and you will face challenges. Below are the most likely challenges you will face and how to combat them:
When people are used to communicating with their team in the office, it can be daunting to switch to virtual communication for a few days each week. Therefore, you need to support your sales team to embrace any technology you use and ensure they know how to use it. With so many tools at your disposal, choosing the right software and tools will aid communication between your team members.
Lack of project coordination
Your sales team will collaborate on multiple projects, but it gets trickier to do so when they're not always in the same place. Research shows that fault lines can occur between home workers and office-based employees. As such, ensuring your team has an efficient method of coordinating and managing projects, no matter where they are, is an important step to take. Cloud-based CRM platforms are a good starting point for sales teams.
While some staff love working from home, others may feel isolated. As such, sustaining connections is of the utmost importance when your team transitions to hybrid working. Arrange after-work drinks, team lunches, and virtual social chats throughout the month to make sure your sales team still feel connected to one another.
Many organisations have spent years building a forward-thinking workplace culture, only for it to be fractured by remote and hybrid working arrangements. But many of the perks of positive workplace cultures can be transferred to home-working environments. Even though they're now working at home, make sure your sales team feels valued and part of the bigger picture.
Given that the world has changed beyond recognition in recent times, hybrid working is here to stay for at least the next few years and possibly, forever. As a sales manager, your job is to ensure you continue to get the best out of your team, no matter where they work.
We hope this article has helped you process the hybrid working culture in your office and gives you the confidence to continue achieving those ambitious sales targets long into the future.
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