As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep across the globe, professionals in nearly every industry have been forced to work from home in order to follow social distancing best practices.
If you're a salesperson, this working arrangement has probably been a tough transition—making sales calls from your kitchen table while the kids fight over the remote in the living room isn't what we'd call an ideal work environment.
This guide is dedicated to helping you work from home as a salesperson during the COVID-19 pandemic or any other time when going into the office isn’t an option. We'll show you how to create the perfect work environment, build an outreach strategy, host a virtual product demo, and more.
We have a lot to get to so let's jump right in...
Create the Perfect Work Environment
Working from home is an adjustment for most people. It can be difficult to focus and reach peak productivity levels when you're not in your normal work environment. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ease your transition into remote work.
1. Have a Dedicated Workspace
It's important to set up a dedicated workspace in your home. Doing so will help you block out potential distractions. It will also enable you to keep your work and personal life separate, which will increase your productivity levels and help guard against burnout.
Why? Because a work area that's distinct from your living space will allow your brain to better enter "work mode" and focus. If you're trying to accomplish your tasks while other family members or roommates are in the same space going about their daily lives, it will be incredibly hard to concentrate. Constant distractions from roommates, spouses, and kids will destroy your productivity.
Not everyone is able to dedicate an entire room to their work. If you live in a small apartment, for example, you may not have extra space to set up a separate workstation. That's OK! In this situation, do your best to carve out some space that you can work in—even if it's just a specific spot at the kitchen table. By working in the same location every day, you'll train your brain to enter work mode whenever you're there.
2. Set a Schedule
A set schedule is often the difference between failure and goal-busting productivity as a remote salesperson. If you're working from home for the very first time, it can be tempting to wake up whenever you want and work until you can't anymore. But this is a highly inefficient way to operate.
Instead, set a manageable schedule and stick to it. Decide when you're going to start, when you'll take breaks, and when you'll sign off for the day—before your day begins. Your productivity metrics will thank you.
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If your work environment isn't comfortable, it will be extremely difficult to sell effectively on a daily basis. Here are a few tips:
Ergonomic furniture: Ergonomic means "relating to or designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment." That's exactly what you want your chair, desk, and other office appliances to be. Invest in quality furniture and your work will improve.
Natural light: Natural light is underrated. Those who get enough of it sleep better and are up to 40% more productive. So try to make sure your home office has a window that lets in the sun. It will make your remote working experience more enjoyable, guaranteed.
Comfortable headphones: You probably don't think of comfortable headphones as a home office necessity, but they are—especially if your family is quarantined with you. A comfy headset can be worn all day, while blocking out distractions from other areas of the house and blasting sweet, productivity-boosting jams into your ears when you’re not on calls.
A music playlist: Speaking of sweet jams, make a playlist for yourself to work to. Studies show that the right kind of music (classical, ambient, cinematic…pretty much any kind of music without distracting lyrics) can improve concentration.
Last but not least, it's crucial that you take breaks throughout the day. Breaks give your brain time to rest and re-energize, allowing you to work more creatively and productively. They also help guard against burnout.
Just know that it might be difficult to take breaks because they won't be built into your day like they were at the office. You won't see your colleagues standing up to get lunch, for example. That's why you need to be proactive and make yourself take breaks from time to time.
You've chosen a dedicated workspace and made it as comfortable as you can. There's just one thing left to do: organize your technology. First, the basics...
Your internet connection: You probably have internet access in your home. But is your connection fast enough to support your work activities? We suggest checking to make sure that it is. If it's not, consider temporarily upgrading while you work remotely.
Your phone plan: Most salespeople spend a significant amount of time on the phone. As such, it's important to make sure your call setup is appropriate for your needs. While most modern phone plans allow for unlimited domestic minutes, not all support international calling. Check your plan so you don't get stuck with a huge bill! (Or use Nutshell’s click-to-call to make unlimited sales calls on the job.)
In terms of your sales tech stack, you probably already use lead generation, email automation, electronic signature software, and CRM solutions on a regular basis. But now that you're working remotely, you have to invest in (and master) video conferencing software as well.
Video conferencing tools can be used to converse with potential clients and allow you to demonstrate products without traveling. This form of communication is more personal than a phone call or email—especially now that we’re all talking to each other from our kitchen tables and home offices.
Here are four top video conferencing solutions:
Zoom:Zoom is probably the most well-known video conferencing app on the market. In fact, Zoom usage has skyrocketed during the pandemic. This tool includes useful features like HD audio and video, recording and transcripts, screen sharing and co-annotations, and virtual backgrounds. On the downside, Zoom has had security issues in the past. Even so, Zoom is a top option for many remote salespeople.
Skype:Skype is a popular video conferencing option. It will allow you to make international calls for free and host meetings for up to 50 people. Other handy features include subtitle and translation services, screen sharing, and the ability to record calls. For both team meetings and client calls, Skype is a solid option.
Google Meet:Google Meet is a video conferencing solution that's part of Google's widely-used G Suite. This tool isn't quite as featured-packed as other options, but it's incredibly easy to use and free for G Suite users. Use Meet to host secure meetings for us to 250 people, get access to screen sharing, and more.
ClickMeeting: Lastly, we have ClickMeeting, a fully-featured video conferencing solution. This tool enables users to host team meetings and client calls, record and send product demos, and host live webinars. It also comes with top features like custom branding; in-meeting digital whiteboards, polls and surveys, and CTAs; and a detailed analytics dashboard. ClickMeeting requires a monthly fee to access top features, but it can be used for free for the first 30 days. We suggest giving it a try.
5. Prioritize Communication
As a remote sales person, you're no longer sharing an office space with your colleagues. This means you can't simply walk down the hall to ask a question. Because of this, you have to put more effort into communicating via video conferencing software (mentioned above) and chat apps like Slack. You should even—gasp—pick up the phone to call your teammates and most valuable buyers once in a while.
Putting more emphasis on regular communication will ensure your entire team is updated on company happenings and can help each other when necessary. It will also help stave off any feelings of loneliness you might develop. Those who are used to interacting with colleagues on a regular basis might not enjoy the isolation that many remote works experience.
As most of us have already realized, it can be harder to get things done at home compared to being in your normal office environment. And that’s alright. As long as you can set honest expectations with your teammates and prospects, you’ll be fine. We’re all going through the same challenges, after all.
Four Tactics You’ll Need for Better Virtual Sales
Remote sales can be a difficult adjustment for outside sellers. Fortunately, there are tried-and-true methods for generating leads and closing deals that don’t require you to leave your house. Follow this simple, three-step strategy and you'll keep your pipeline full.
1. Develop an Outreach Process
If you're already accustomed to inside sales, your outreach process as a remote salesperson will look pretty much the same as it always has. If outside sales is your game, you'll need to adjust your approach since in-person meetings are out for the time being.
Fortunately, the principles are the same, you'll just be employing them over the phone or inside an email instead of during a face-to-face meeting. If you’re not used to selling remotely, remember to keep these best practices in mind:
Personalize: Turning a cold lead into a promising prospect requires a foundation of trust. One of the best ways to build trust with strangers is to personalize your outreach strategy. Tailor your initial message to each individual lead by using their name and speaking to their exact situation as best you can.
Follow up: Experienced sales reps know that the money is in the follow-up because very few prospects buy after an initial call or email. If you don't continue to reach out, you're likely leaving a bunch of money on the table. Don't annoy your prospects, but realize that they're busy and an occasional message reminding them who you are and what you offer will actually be appreciated by serious buyers.
Update your CRM: Lastly, make sure you update your CRM software after every interaction with a potential customer—even if you don't actually reach them or hear back. This will ensure you always know where you stand with each prospect and will allow you to adjust your strategy accordingly.
2. Get Comfortable With Virtual Product Demos
One of the benefits of video conferencing software (mentioned above) is that it allows you to host product demoswithout having to be physically present with your potential customers.
Virtual product demos are largely the same as in-person ones. But there are a few differences that we need to highlight. Follow the four steps listed below and you'll be able to host Grade-A virtual product demos and continue closing deals while you work from home as a salesperson.
The first step is to prepare. To give an effective product demonstration, you have to know your prospect and understand what they want to achieve with your company's offerings. That way you can tailor your presentation to them.
Do what you can to learn about your potential customers—the companies they work for, their specific roles, the daily challenges they face, etc.—and allow this knowledge to dictate how your presentation is conducted. The more you can personalize your demos, the more success you'll achieve.
Part of product demo prep is creating an agenda. This is especially important for demos delivered via video conferencing software. You won't be in the same room as your potential client, which could make some prospects uncomfortable. An agenda helps counteract this by allowing prospects to see exactly what your demonstration will entail.
Sales is about sharing value, not features. In other words, to sell products, you need to make prospects understand how your company's products will benefit them, specifically.
When demoing a product via video conferencing software, get right to the point and share value propositions that your individual prospects will find interesting and useful. This is where your preparation personalization efforts really come in handy.
For example, if you know that Prospect A wants a software solution to complete their taxes in a timely manner and Prospect B needs a way to track payroll, you can customize your presentations to each and only focus on the features of your product that apply.
It can be difficult to ask questions during a virtual product demo. Since you won't be in the same room as your prospect, they might feel less inclined to ask for clarification on specific product features and use cases. Because of this, it's essential that you stop periodically and ask your prospects if they have questions. This will ensure they get the information they need to make purchasing decisions and have an enjoyable time attending your demo.
But don't stop there! We also suggest that you host a quick Q&A session at the end of every product demo you host. That way your prospects can ask questions that didn't come up during the presentation or learn about features you didn't have time to mention.
Remember, the best product demonstrations are about the prospect. You should do everything you can to make sure they feel comfortable during your presentation and well-informed after. Making time for viewer queries is a huge part of this.
Just like in-person product demonstrations, your virtual demos should end with a CTA of some kind. This could be a link to more information, the chance to register for a follow-up presentation, or an opportunity to purchase your product.
The key to an effective CTA is clear, compelling language. Make sure your viewer knows exactly what you're offering, how much it costs, and why it will be beneficial for them to buy now.
Again, making sales via video conferencing can be more difficult because the experience isn't as personal. To combat this, consider giving your prospects some kind of incentive for purchasing, i.e. a percentage discount or free product offer.
3. Be Genuinely Helpful
During a crisis like the COVID-19 shutdown, buyers’ needs tend to narrow down to the bare essentials: their health, their safety, their employment, and the stability of their business. Prospects still want to hear from you—but you’d better have something important to say.
The key to remote selling right now is taking the time to identify what your prospect actually needs, and putting aside what you’re trying to get out of the arrangement. In her wonderful new series on virtual selling tips, Lauren Bailey of Factor8 put it like this:
“[If you’re trying to find] some way to stay relevant, some way to get the pipeline moving again, I invite you to start with adding value...Is there information that you can share? Are there trends that you can share? People are dying to know what other people are doing, so even just understanding your customer base and sharing that information out…
“If we lead with value first, we are finding a reason that people should talk to us, and they will because we don’t stink like a salesperson...Talk with your marketing departments about value-add whitepapers or articles or surveys...When you lead with value, you can’t go wrong. And boy people are going to remember the stink of the too-salesly salesperson right now, but they’ll remember you fondly by trying to help.”
4. Switch to a 'Long-Term Sales' Mindset
Finally, we’ll leave you with this great tip from Nutshell Account Executive Jared Knotts:
Most sales reps live and die by the month (me included). It's easy to fall into the habit of just trying to get through the month and resetting on the 1st. Long-term sales thinking goes well outside the monthly goal. It’s all about building relationships, creating more referral opportunities and thinking about long-term goals.
As we've written before, you can't let your prospects float away right now just because they aren't buying. Now is the time to keep in touch, focus on the relationship, and stay on your buyers' radars so that you can pick the sales conversations back up when things go back to normal. (Stay patient, we're getting closer every day!)
While selling from home is an adjustment, it's far from impossible. If you follow the remote sales tips, tricks, and strategies listed above, you'll be able to effectively work from home as a salesperson and you'll be back to closing deals in no time. Good luck and stay safe!