20 Killer (Virtual) Sales Management Takeaways

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Belly up for some great virtual management tips folks.  This week we hosted OPEN BAR with 5 Friends of Factor 8 sharing advanced remote leadership ideas.  Way beyond WFH, these rockstars went top shelf! 🙂

We had a GM, Consultant, Front-line Sales Manager, VP of Enablement, and VP of sales on tap (it’s getting punny here…) and I’m sharing my 20 favorite takeaways below.

Really, I’ve been WFH for fifteen years and I took some big notes.

#1 Ditch the video and pick up the phone. Outside of the huddle and the team video chats, call your people 1:1 to see how they are. I thought I knew the score from team updates and then spent over an hour with one of my people after this tip. Make it happen ASAP.

#2 Virtual HH goes further with virtual games (whiteboard pictionary), two truths and a lie, meet the family, and my favorite… MTV Cribs where we take virtual tours of our space (what’s in YOUR fridge?)

#3 Be Real. Your job as a leader isn’t to just put on a brave face. Authenticity rules here. Share fears and struggles. There’s no better nor important time to be human.

#4 Do 1:1’s better.  NO multitasking and NO rescheduling. It’s critical right now.

#5 Don’t assume current schedules will work for everyone. Set an expectation of what a good day looks like + an afternoon check-in, but work with individuals on custom work schedules. We’re homeschooling too right now!

#6 Don’t assume everyone is OK if you’re not hearing from them. Virtual employees (during the best of times) worry more about how their performance is perceived. Check-in with every person on every level right now. (Call them!)

#7 Engage your training/enablement teams. Just telling people to use empathy is different than an interactive training on how to do it. Your internal enablement team may have virtual meetings and training experts at your disposal as well! (this week I learned to virtual whiteboard, stamp, and mark up slides).

#8 Video…then NO video. As leaders, you NEED to see what’s in the background. We heard stories of unmade beds, pajamas and worse. Take a look, coach the rep, and then give them a break. Back to back video calls are exhausting. Turn it off for some meetings.

#9 Schedule all meetings for 45 minutes. You’re welcome. Really, the stress many of us face now is the ALL OF IT at once with no downtime.  The juxtaposition of work, house, spouse, and kids with no time to eat or pee (OK, I added that one). Pre-planning 15 minutes between meetings is bloody brilliant.

#10 Use now to develop managers and reps.  For some, we finally have the time; for others, it’s just something that can be within our control. More training, more call coaching.  Don’t assume as leaders that it’s happening or happening well. Ride along, set the strategy, then coach the managers.

#11 Use your tools for visibility and accountability. Call coaching (Chorus, Gong, ExecVision) and gamification tools (Ambition, Level 11) are hot right now, but so are eLearning tools, advanced webinar tools, and even project tools like Trello or Asana.

#12 Double shot of positive right now. Overcorrect on the praise and be specific. We all need this.  A lot. (I’m seriously fishing for compliments from my KIDS these days. Won’t happen – until I start playing Fortnight) 

#13 Beware of micromanagement. It’s easy to watch the dashboards and immediately react.  Yeah, reps can become numbers just that fast. Instead set expectations and check at the end of the day. It’s enough and keeps you off the whack-a-mole micro-management train. 

#14 Beware assumptions. Misunderstanding happens in the best of times, and the remote + stressful atmosphere probably means more than half of what you’ve said is misinterpreted. Get out of meetings and micromanagement and call everyone to check in and check understanding. Ride along on calls to be sure customer messaging is understood as well.  

#15 Prospecting fails. Nope, not many folks interested in cold calls right now. So stop bashing the quantity and get into the quality. Celebrate conversations and learning. Then. . .

#16 Share customer stories in morning huddles. This shows your focus on care and conversations AND gives everyone else stories to tell their customers/prospects about what is happening out there.  

#17 Use Stephen Covey’s powerful model that talks about “circle of concern” and “circle of influence” right now. Also, try Kübler Ross’s model about stages of change here and get into leading change and whole-humans vs. numbers or reps.

#18 Don’t manage team meetings the same way. I usually meet once a month with my team and I’m making it more often. When it’s virtual, you need to pause for ten seconds to wait for responses or chats. Let folks know you want them to come off mute or chat instead of just being disappointed if it doesn’t happen.

#19 Watch for the disappearing rep. You don’t get the visual cues you did in the office. Video off a few times in a row? No comments, chats, or emails? Something’s up. Call and check-in. Do it with empathy rather than a focus on slipping numbers or attendance. They could have someone personally affected by COVID, they may be depressed, we just don’t know.

#20 Don’t assume it will all go back to normal. We just NAILED virtual, y’all. Can we keep this going for those who want and need it? Remember how small your hiring pool felt 6 months ago? The walls just came down. Let’s embrace this opportunity. 

Thank you again to our incredible Friends of Factor 8 who stepped up to make it a fun and really helpful session.  I’ll drink with y’all anytime!

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