The last 2 years have seen an acceleration of digital transformation, driven by COVID lock downs and the need for remote working.
No line of business has been unaffected, and the sales function, with its previous reliance on building relationships via face-to-face interaction has undeniably faced the impact.
As a result of COVID-19, the percentage of employees working from home in Australia has increased exponentially — from an estimated 16% pre-pandemic to 68% at the peak of the pandemic1. Businesses scrambled to support a predominantly remote workforce, with virtual communications platforms a no longer just an option, they became a necessity.
All indications are that hybrid working is here to stay. 42% of business decision makers expect that their organisations will permanently maintain an increased remote workforce2.
Nearly every buying interaction is now done remotely.
Increased use of virtual platforms requires sellers to adapt their skills entirely. Those who don’t adapt face a negative impact to their performance. As a result, many organisations are focused on enhancing the virtual selling capabilities of their sellers.
As field sellers began to pivot to engaging customers virtually, limitations in their virtual-selling capabilities quickly became apparent. More than half the respondents to Gartner’s CSO Priorities Pulse Survey reported not being fully prepared to deliver similar value through virtual sales as they did through in-person interactions.
And remote selling is here to stay.
In a Gartner June 2020 survey of CSOs, a remarkable 23% reported plans to permanently shift field sales to virtual sales roles, and another 36% said they were unsure about a permanent shift. With the absence or restriction of in-person meetings and social distancing norms likely to persist for the near term, most CSOs recognize virtual engagements to be key for prospecting success.
Sales leaders realise they must guide sellers to stop assuming live meeting practices transfer 1:1 to virtual settings and prepare them for virtual-first selling behaviours required to succeed today. This preparation includes considerations such as improving platforms, rightsizing pitches and content, more thoughtful pre-call planning and increasing buyer enablement to support asynchronous customer decision making.
The ‘Great Resignation’ adds more fuel to a disrupted workforce.
According to the National Australia Bank’s Behavioural Insight Report released in February 2022, just over 20% of Australians have changed jobs within the last year and almost 25% are considering leaving their current place of employment – with 28% of sales workers considering leaving3.
How do CSO’s keep their sellers motivated and most importantly, successful in the face of a disrupted and changing sales environment?
We decided to interview key decision makers in Sales and Learning and Development functions across the globe, to examine the role of the professional seller in the face of a changing business environment. We looked at the key attributes of high performers, consider how well sales learning and support tools are valued by sellers, and what approaches they deem most effective. We found that:
- Virtual selling skills are critical
2. Multiple Stakeholders are the norm, and
3. Business is moving fast
We also noted that while “Offering and articulating business insights to the C-Suite and Executives” was identified as the top skill of successful sellers, only 49% were confident that their sales professionals could do this.
When we examined sales training practices, we found that whilst the top preferred choice is classroom-based instructor led training, 30% have difficulty changing their behaviour after training (41% in organisations with 10,000+ employees).
And 95% of all our respondents agreed that creating greater agility in sales engagement and execution is a key requirement for success. As one Group Vice-President of Sales in a Global Technology Company said, “Sales agility is the ability to pull in the right resources at the right time. We have the tools but the people in the field need to pick the timing. There’s too much reliance on traditional relationships and the complexity of the sale means there’s more involvement from others. Understanding this complexity and adding the resources virtually is more acceptable these days.”
Take a look at the infographic.
Sales Agility: The attributes and training methods that develop successful modern sellers
With the hybrid workplace now a norm, how do you equip sellers with the skills to be successful in a remote selling environment? And how do you retain and grow talent in the era of the great resignation? Download the full report to examine how sellers have adapted to a hybrid selling environment, and how a new level of business savvy and sales agility is crucial to succeeding in a post COVID world.
Ready to reimagine how your sellers gain business acumen and savvy? Talk to the team at Wyda.
1. Forrester Analytics Business Technographics Global Workforce Benchmark Survey, 2019, and Forrester’s Q2 2020 Australia PandemicEX Survey
2. Forrester’s Business Technographics Priorities And Journey Survey COVID-19 Recontact, 2020
3. NAB Behavioural Insight Report, February 2022