Even in non-pandemic times, entire sales teams are rarely in a single room – work like client meetings and out-of-town travel regularly keep salespeople away from their desks. Since the start of the pandemic, though, it’s been common for sales teams to be entirely dispersed.
Without the right tools and infrastructure, this dispersal can lead to inefficiencies that turn a sales team into a cost center – a big problem for any organization. Here’s a look at how leaders can leverage Salesforce to make sure remote sales teams stay ROI positive, regardless of why team members are in different locations.
Background: With Inefficient Communications, Sales Teams Become Cost Centers
Before I address the solution here, it’s worth more clearly defining the scope of the problem.
Selling is complicated. Selling in a way that leads to happy, long-term customers and repeat sales is even harder. When sales teams are able to achieve that – that is, to not only win deals but also grow existing accounts and retain customers – they add significant value to the organization.
That’s hard to do without a collaboration platform that serves as a single source of truth for everyone who touches an account.
Salesforce is one such platform (and the one I’ll be focusing on in this piece). In the absence of Salesforce or another CRM, information about prospective customers is scattered among emails, hard drives, calendar invites, and even paper notes.
Back in the days when salespeople could walk to a colleague’s desk and ask for an update on a particular account, this system was workable for many organizations. When teams are entirely remote, though, it becomes unmanageable.
Here’s why: even when you store everything in the cloud in shareable formats, things get lost. Important tasks might not get assigned and deadlines might get missed. A key client requirement communicated via email to one person may not make it into a final proposal, which could be enough to cost you the business.
More broadly, the problem with operating a sales team without a single source of truth is that everyone has to work harder than they should. For things to work well, people have to be really organized. They have to follow rigid protocol for documenting and sharing. And if you want to measure, forget it. You’ll need hours and hours of additional time to pull data and cobble together reports in a way that actually tells you something useful.
Salesforce alleviates these problems in three ways:
Read on for more on each of these.
One of the simplest and most impactful benefits Salesforce offers remote sales teams is the ability to collaborate on accounts in real time, in context.
When team members log in to a prospect’s account, they can see everything about that account: deal stage, statement of work, pricing, proposal docs, etc. They can also assign each other tasks with due dates, chat, share notes, access templates for various essential documents, and more (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Salesforce’s collaboration tools
Because of these features, meaningful conversations can happen without team members having to dig through email or scroll through Excel sheets to verify information, which means teams can get more done more quickly. It also helps eliminate miscommunications and confusion around who owns what, which makes it much easier to keep track of internal deadlines.
This collaboration is key to empowering remote sales teams to operate efficiently – assuming it’s readily accessible from anywhere, on any device.
Making Collaboration Easy from Anywhere
Collaborative tools are only as good as the data they contain. During the sales process, new information doesn’t always arrive during business hours or when team members are at their desks.
A prospect might drop a key detail on a phone call or during a Zoom meeting. Maybe someone on your team notices company news on social media. All these pieces of information can help you win that account (and ultimately serve that customer) – but only if you capture them so that everyone on the account can easily view them.
This is why it’s crucial that collaboration tools be readily accessible from anywhere, as Salesforce tools are. Sales reps and support team members can easily add and access information via phone, tablet, and desktop computer. This ease of use increases the likelihood of use, which increases the utility and value of the Salesforce platform.
One important note here: The universe of Salesforce functions, features, and integrations is huge. Even if your team is effectively moving prospects through your pipeline, there may be ways to improve your efficiency with add-ons or configurations. If you’re already using Salesforce but disappointed by the ROI you’re getting, that may be part of the issue. We’d love to have an exploratory conversation to find out more.
Another potential cause of disappointing ROI? Failing to turn metrics into action items that consistently make your team more productive.
Turning Metrics into Actionable Insights for Constant Improvement
Consistent collaboration is key to positive ROI for remote sales teams. But if your goal is to constantly improve that ROI, it’s essential that you track what you’re doing with reports and dashboards, and use the data you gather to identify ways to get better.
Many sales organizations – especially those already using Salesforce – have gotten good at collecting data. Where I most often see room for improvement is in turning that data into not only insights about the team but actionable insights – clear next steps for improving performance.
To get there, sales teams need to do four things:
Getting this right is a matter of setting up your Salesforce org and leveraging the most appropriate functions and features for your business goals. When these pieces are in place, managers can quickly see which geographical regions, industries, and individual team members are performing best – and then dig into what’s happening there to bring takeaways to the rest of the team.
Remote Sales Teams Thrive When Collaboration Is Seamless and Metrics Drive Action
For remote sales teams, the right tools can increase efficiency and make productive collaboration seamless. But tools alone aren’t enough to enable peak productivity. For that, sales teams also need guidance from leadership about where and how to spend their energy to double down on what works and step away from what doesn’t. Set up right, Salesforce can help remote sales teams overcome plummeting productivity and other hurdles.
Curious about whether Salesforce might be the right solution for the problems your remote team is facing? Wondering whether you’re getting as much benefit out of Salesforce as possible? Let us help! Get in touch, and we’ll connect you with one of our Salesforce experts for a no-obligation intro call.