How many articles about managing your "sales process" have you read today? This week? This month?
It seems like everybody and their brother, sister, cousin, their neighbor’s ex-wives second uncle once removed – everyone! - is writing "How to" sales articles.
We read them and discuss them as a sales community. We talk and argue about what works and what doesn't.
We talk about elevator pitches, demo tools, presentation templates and closing techniques. We talk about prospecting. We talk about pipeline.
Most of these articles then end with a) how we're doing stuff and things the WRONG WAY and b) here’s how we're supposed to be doing it RIGHT, just go to buymysalesstuff.com with a credit card number and we’ll get started!
Well, wait...that's a lie, most of them ACTUALLY end with some old guy (like me) waving his fist and yelling to the internet something like this:
"Those rotten kids are going to be the death of B2B sales! Pick up your Rolodex and dial your telegraph machine you lazy bums! Just go to buymysalesstuff.com unless you’re a cotton headed ninny muggins who can’t handle it!”
Aren’t those articles great? Written by all those expert sales gurus ninjas whose last real B2B client meeting took place during the Clinton administration.
Ooof. I know that’s bit harsh – but I’ve grown tired of warmed over sales techniques crafted in a year when you had to say "Over" after asking customer for a meeting on your mobile phone. (#toosoon?)
So, let’s just treat those articles like our Uncle Charlie at Thanksgiving dinner – you know, the Uncle you have that has incredibly tone deaf & almost comical (if they weren't so scary) political beliefs? Let's just ignore THAT yelling old man and let’s listen to THIS yelling old man (me!) talk about SOMETHING IMPORTANT!
Let’s talk about The Present of Sales! Notice I didn’t say THE FUTURE of Sales? That’s by design, because most of us – save for people waiting to get the divorce papers signed – don’t actually live in the FUTURE.
Really no one lives in the future – because it hasn’t happened yet.
The Future Isn’t REAL! We've been lied to! Scully, it's all a conspiracy!
(cue X-Files music….)
Now I’m the first to admit that I write about the Future of Sales quite a lot. There’s a lot of trends we have to keep abreast of – how technology will affect B2B sales; how the empowerment of the buyer will change the sales process; how XaaS (anything As A Service) will flip BANT on its head.
Those are all great things to talk about.
But this article isn’t about any of that.
It’s something that affects the very way I’m supposed to do my job as a B2B Salesperson. Now.
It’s about one thing that’s happening now that NO ONE is talking about.
Not the sales gurus. Not the sales ninjas.
Not the sales sharks with frickin’ laser-beams on their heads.
What I’m talking about is: Remote Workers
Bear with me here…
A Gallup report in 2017 showed 31% of American workers are working remotely 4-5 days per week, up from 23% in 2015.
Let’s let that SINK in. 1 in 3 people are working REMOTELY most, if not all, of the work week. Here’s a graphic that shows what that looks like:
Not impressed? What if I changed it to this?
Oh, SO NOW you’re interested in whether people work remotely?
Think of it this way – Your ideal customer profile, your decision maker, your influencer, the internal champion you need to sell your Widget to Dream Client Inc. – one in three of them are probably working remotely.
I’m not going to bore you right now with stats on remote workers – like job satisfaction and retention and productivity (but I will in a few paragraphs, I promise!)
I just want to ask a serious question (actually THREE questions) –
- Do you think it’s necessary to change or modify your (or your team’s) sales tactics to sell to remote DMs?
- Do you need to change the way YOU work/sell to effectively work remotely?
- Do you have to change the way you manage teams because many of them work remotely?
If your answer is NO to any or all of these question, I ask you to please consider this: you’re wrong.
#BreakingNews: Remote workers are mostly working remotely. They are in home offices, they are in coffee shops, at the library, at a satellite office and they are KILLING IT
(Here’s the boring part I promised earlier) There’s a lot of “I feel more productive” survey info out there regarding remote working…but here is a hard number that SHOWS more ACTUAL work is done by remote workers: Forbes has reported that remote workers at a travel company made 13.5% percent more calls than their comparable office workers, which is the equivalent of almost a full extra days’ worth of work in a given week.
Imagine, if only there was a job type that required people to pick up the phone and call people! ( Paging Dr. Sales Manager, Dr. Sales Manager your CRM activities metric is calling!)
Additionally, merely having employees work from home can save businesses thousands of dollars per month (per employee), and usually raises employee morale, improving retention and collaboration. BONUS: remote workers take fewer sick days and less vacation time, giving them more work days overall.
If after all of that, you still need to be convinced this REMOTE WORKING is a thing that is happening presently, stop reading this now, crank up your Duesenberg and get on down to the Duke’s estate for the fox hunt.
So how does remote working effect B2B sales? Listen, anyone who is carrying a bag, managing people who carry bags or knows what a bag is, understands that B2B buying decisions are NO LONGER being made just by a person sitting in Purchasing or an IT Director – or a CEO that you can take out for a steak dinner (Don Draper, I’m looking at you).
Remote workers have and will continue to have both purchase authority and influence in purchases of everything we sell. EVERYTHING.
This is happening…right now…..
I’ve worked remotely as a sales director and VP of sales for the last four years. And I can tell you….no one who has tried to sell me sales enablement software, sales training or anything related to my job knows how to sell to me, a remote DM. That’s because everything they throw at me is just regular old sales guru-speak that’s been repurposed for a DM working from a home office as opposed to a DM working on the 65th floor of Columbia Tower in Downton Seattle.
They deliver it to me on the phone and in email between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday.
And every SINGLE ONE OF THEM asks for a MEETING.
Prospecting and selling to remote workers is not just NOT AS SIMPLE as tuning a well-worn sales practice for a guy, in a tie, in an office and use it on someone who’s working at home, on the couch, in bunny slippers.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about – let’s look at basic B2B sales prospecting. No fancy stuff. Just dialing for dollars.
All over the interwebs, I see sales experts “training” sales reps how to sell to people sitting in an office. How to cold call them. How to have face-to-face negotiations with them. How to close them. How many times have you read the following from a sales ninja/guru when a salesperson says they can’t get a prospect on the phone: “Hey they won’t answer the phone? Well go and knock on that door! What’s a little “No solicitation sign to a professional hunter salesperson, right?”
I've have seen that in articles, in comments, in shares. When all else fails, go visit a prospect.
However, we’ve just show that 1/3rd of your potential customer base may be hanging THESE signs on their front doors…are you hustly and gritty enough to knock?
Now, of course, I'm being a bit facetious (a bit?) but when you think of it, not really.
The entire volume of B2B sales skills and training BEST PRACTICES we work with every day was compiled in at a time when it was just COMMON SENSE to believe that people would always go to a job, in a building that wasn't their home, and do their work.
But then Al Gore and his damned internet happened and everything changed.
Consider this: if there's no door to knock on, no phone number to call, no elevator to pitch in...where does that leave our B2B sales strategy and tactics?
Now, no one really saw this coming, because it's always been assumed that WORK is WORK and HOME is HOME. I mean even George Jetson went into an office to work! WHY??????? HE ONLY PRESSES ONE BUTTON!
But the internet - for everything else it's done - has also cut the strings that require a person to drive into an office to do their job.
There's a lot of ways in which I can talk about how our sales strategy and tactics haven't kept up with technological advancement, but this seems to be one GLARING way we've fallen behind and no one is talking about it.
And because of it, I really do believe we in B2B sales are ill-prepared to work and sell in a remote work environment.
I see in it bad prospecting, bad demos, bad proposals....bad everything.
We don’t know the reality of remote workers – what do I mean? Well, for instance: I was trained to give an elevator pitch to someone I shared an actual elevator with. We all know the drill, you have the undivided attention of someone for 15 seconds in a small confined place......GO!
But does that SAME elevator pitch work when I’m talking to someone who’s standing in their own kitchen, cleaning their stove while their dog is jumping through all the clean laundy chasing the cat? (I answered a cold call from a sales rep who used such an elevator pitch on me when I was cleaning my stove when my dog was in the clean laundy chasing my cat …so I know the answer. Hint: it’s NO.)
To my mind there are really three things we have to talk about when in comes to Remote Workers and B2B Sales. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing three articles on B2B sales and Remote Workers.
Each article will take on a specific challenge with remote workers in the B2B sales space, complete with prescriptions on how to not only survive but thrive in this new world order (and none of them will end with me pitching a BOOK or sales training or asking for a credit card number….I promise.)
Here are the three topics.
- Selling to Remote Decision Makers/Influencers
- Working as a Remote Salesperson
- Managing Remote Sales Teams
- AI infused Blockchain will enable us to all MAGA! (Just kidding with this one, but really – that’s 100% clickbait ain’t it?)
I know this whole REMOTE WORKER thing isn’t as sexy a topic as cold calling, ABM, social selling, sales enablement, AI, blockchain, bitcoin or Kendall Jenner….but it’s a fact that today 73% of millennials are B2B purchase decision makers or influencers…and more and more of these millennial DMs and influencers are going to be working from home.
We have to sell to remote workers, we have to manage remote workers and many of us – the lucky ones who still have jobs in B2B sales – will BE remote workers. We need to talk about this…and hopefully you’re interested enough in what I've said to continue reading about my take on it.
And for those of you who REALLY REALLY need another exciting debate about social selling vs. cold calling, I leave you with this:
- Cold calling is great.
- No cold calling is dead!
- Social selling is the only way!
- No, it's not - social selling trainers are LYING to you.
- Wait you have to do both!
- No, you have to do one more than the other.
- Wait I said Cold calling still works!
- You’re crazy Social Selling is the only way!
- Without ABM you’re lost!
- Shut up no one asked you!
You’re welcome. Cheers and see you next time!
Derek Wyszynski has had a rather unique career path. He’s worked in US Military Intelligence, Fortune 500 companies and “two guys in a garage” startups. He’s been a soldier, a seller, a CIO and a VP of Sales. He’s worked in hardware, software, SaaS, manufacturing, government, education, professional services, healthcare and high-tech verticals. He’s @realsalesadvice on Twitter and you can always find him atwww.realsalesadvice.com (no credit card required)