By: Sudheesh Nair, CEO ThoughtSpot
One of the changes that the pandemic brings is that there is a lot more work at home or elsewhere than in the office. Organizations in the technology sector in particular have completely abandoned requirements for office presence. This has a big impact on the way organizations grow, hire employees and shape their culture. For the employees, this means that they are looking for a new routine in everyday life.
Since sales teams were already used to working in different places outside the office before the pandemic, interesting experiences can be taken from them. For example, how they remain productive, healthy, happy and connected in a function that is largely performed externally.
Reconsider work-life balance
All employers I have ever worked for have talked about work-life balance. This balance is determined by how much time you spend in or out of the office. But when the office is gone and work and private activities take place in the same room, how do you balance work and private life?
Sellers know that instead of trying to set boundaries between work and home, it makes more sense to merge them. Sales is not a 9-5 job. You may need to read emails before breakfast or make a phone call while driving the kids to school. Most successful salespeople I know achieved work-life balance, not by trying to balance these separate worlds, but by integrating them. They also find time to coach their children’s soccer team. This requires thinking, self-knowledge and discipline.
Organize live meetings
Sellers are usually on the go a lot. And those who got into a new business early on may have rarely had a physical office to begin with. Still, they find ways to work together and meet people. Because it is not built into their everyday lives by default, they need to plan and prioritize this more emphatically. Working remotely does not mean that you are not connected to people, it just means that you have to make more effort to meet each other live and thus strengthen relationships.
For leaders at startups, it means encouraging team outings and face-to-face meetings. Think about how you can physically bring people together more often. Also those who work in different parts of the organization to even better coordinate functions in the company.
Ensure 360 degree communication
Good salespeople communicate and maintain good relationships in all directions. They need to sell to their customers, manage their managers’ expectations, communicate with human resources departments and ensure that their relationship with the product team is strong. This ability to communicate 360 degrees is built into merchants’ DNA and is a huge advantage when it comes to staying connected to the ecosystem. Working externally naturally creates silos. This is why teleworkers need to learn to break through these silos, something salespeople are particularly good at.
As teleworkers, salespeople deal with disruptive external factors every day. A meeting runs too late or they do not arrive on time because there was no parking space. Maybe the whole meeting is not optimal, because the coffee shop’s wifi could not handle it. Yet salespeople are conditioned to thrive in this world of trouble. Many of us experience these disorders for the first time. Accepting this and learning to deal with it is an indispensable skill for employees who are increasingly working remotely.
Make human connection a priority
A good salesperson is basically a good connection. Good salespeople give credit to others, make others feel comfortable, important and involved, and build trust. But it’s harder than ever to build trust because so much of that process used to take place over an office lunch, a conversation, or a face-to-face moment at the coffee machine. Without a defined office space, the social aspect of work is lacking, and here too we can learn from salespeople.
They usually get a maximum of one hour from the customers, where the salesperson must build trust, be credible, sympathetic, communicate value and walk away with a concrete action. This is a lot that needs to be achieved in a short time, and before anything can be done at all, a relationship needs to be established. So for people who work externally, building relationships should become a conscious part of the agenda. The first and last few minutes of a conversation should be about establishing the all-important human connection.
New working reality
It can feel a little insecure when you are the only one who is really responsible for your time and actions and not everyone can handle this well. But maybe your sales colleagues can help you deal with the challenges of teleworking, because that is and will be the new work reality.