Since the pandemic hit, every quarter of the year has ushered in a new wave of COVID-19 strains that have been taking a huge toll on businesses. In 2020, around 200,000 businesses in the US were forced to close permanently. Other companies were left struggling to adapt to the new situation, wondering if they should wait things out.
Two years in and many lockdowns later, companies have had to make peace with the new normal to survive: business operations need to become virtual-ready. This has been a daunting task to achieve, especially for those that are slow to innovate or lack the necessary know-how and equipment to do so.
With sales being an integral part of every business, we take a closer look at the challenges that remote sales teams face during the pandemic and how SDR managers can keep their teams competitive amid a challenging economic landscape.
Flockjay is set to launch an on-the-job success platform for SDRs to help organizations address the challenges of navigating a remote-first world.Join Flockjay’s waitlist today.
Understanding the Role of SDR Managers
Sales professionals serve as the frontliners of every business. Sales development representatives or SDRs, in particular, are vital in prospecting and nurturing warm leads to boost the chances for sales teams to close deals. Without enough client acquisitions and conversions, the lack of revenue can severely affect how businesses function.
Add to that the growing competition across all businesses, where headhunters can recruit highly trained SDRs who come from other companies and who have built a significant network of clients. Because of this, the pressure to perform and bring results is immense. And as every entrepreneur worth their salt knows, massive sales burnout can either make or break a business.
LinkedIn reports that the annual sales turnover rate in the US among B2B companies averaged 34.7 percent during the pre-pandemic period. For comparison, the average turnover rate across all industries is 13 percent. This is why having an SDR manager can benefit your business in the long run.
Like a ship captain on rough waters, SDR managers undertake immense responsibilities on navigating their SDR team towards success. On one hand, they are always prospecting for growth opportunities in the market. On the other hand, they are recruiting, onboarding, and training SDRs. A crucial aspect of an SDR manager’s role is retaining the SDR workforce by creating an all-inclusive and highly collaborative environment.
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How SDR Managers Can Lead a Remote Sales Team
The flexibility of remote working has its perks, mainly saving on transportation and allowing people to work anywhere. But for SDR managers, leading a team online can be laborious, leading them to look for solutions to keep their momentum going and still complete their deliverables. Below are several ways to achieve this.
Optimize Sales Knowledge Management
The sudden shift to remote work setup has translated to overwhelming changes, from communications to operations. Company restructuring follows suit, where employees are reassigned, quit, or furloughed in response to the economic changes.
These changes can cut the flow of information from one person to another, especially if there is no comprehensive turnover process. One way for SDR managers to get a grip of the situation is through knowledge management.
Knowledge management is a process where companies organize and structure all information and knowledge of employees—whether they are tacit or explicit knowledge—in an accessible system. Think of it as your central information hub where everyone can retrieve what they need anytime.
Fully optimized knowledge management paves the way for improved decision-making. Data also shows that companies with knowledge management in place experienced a 40 percent increase in overall productivity.
So, how can SDR managers achieve this?
To start, all changes that may affect how your SDR team functions should be documented. These include operations, new policies, and revised goals or KPIs. This is especially crucial in a workplace that no longer allows for a quick gathering of the sales team for a meeting unlike in a physical office—possibly due to differences in time zones or access to the Internet.
You cannot also depend on sharing information in group chats and emails as vital messages can get easily lost once messages flood. On top of that, Zoom fatigue is impacting the productivity of employees.
Having everything set on paper avoids further chaos in the long run.
There should also be an abundance of training materials and other resources that your sales team can refer to should they seek to improve their skills and knowledge. This is very beneficial for new talents that you need to onboard remotely as well.
Finally, SDR managers should create a space where team members can share their observations and insights. Setting up scrum sessions or monthly roundtable discussions lets team members voice out solutions that may help improve productivity. The team can gain insights from each other regarding new sales tactics or virtual tools.
Another facet of sales knowledge management is building sales intelligence. Without sufficient data, SDR managers cannot set appropriate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and goals. Sales intelligence refers to the collection of high-quality data that SDR managers can analyze. By monitoring trends and identifying patterns, SDR managers can strategize effectively. These strategies are then implemented on the ground by SDRs.
Other benefits of having solid sales intelligence are:
- Reducing sales touchpoints before conversions
- Narrowing down sales qualified leads for prospecting
- Gathering insights from different channels for better targeting
Set Up a Dedicated Communication Channel
Conducting a sales meeting with your team is essential but can be a difficult task in a remote-first world. And while companies may encourage every employee to communicate openly online, this may seem counterproductive and intimidating, especially if senior executives are around. Sales is already a high-pressure profession.
Sales leaders need to build and maintain trust among their teams by closing communication gaps. One way to do this is for senior leaders to create a safe environment by leading through vulnerability. Doing so encourages each member to speak their minds in a safe environment and solve any problems that may arise. SDR managers can have a one-on-one consultation with each representative regularly.
SDR managers can go the extra mile and set monthly visitations to see how each team member is doing. It is also a great way to reconnect and build trust in a manner that virtual communication cannot achieve.
Of course, there’s always room for hobbies and weekend activities beyond sales conversations. Discussing topics that are not work-related is a great way to break the ice when you begin virtual meetings and create a comfortable environment, too.
You can use tools like Slack, Zoom, and WhatsApp Business for constant communication. With these efforts, SDR managers can boost the morale of their teams, alleviate some pressure, and keep them engaged at the same time.
Motivate Your Sales Team Through Training and Coaching Sessions
Working with a scattered team may create a divide among members. To prevent this, SDR managers should instill a growth mindset and center how the team operates on a common goal. This way, everyone is aware of the rationale behind the workflow, what to expect, and what the team is trying to achieve.
It also helps if SDR managers are more vocal about their appreciation of their team. Doing so produces an inclusive environment that nurtures familiarity, even though members are in different places. SDR managers can start an employee recognition program where employees get additional benefits if they can surpass a milestone. A study reveals that employees are 31 percent less likely to leave a company that has an employee recognition program in place.
Step it up further and set sessions that will create a bond within the sales team. It could be a virtual Zumba, yoga, or meditation session where everyone can participate and encourage a work-and-play experience.
On the technical side, features and information compound as products and services develop. The demand, trends, and consumer behaviors also change over time. For example, many consumers are now shopping online instead of visiting physical stores. For these reasons, SDR teams also need to adapt rapidly. And one way to do this is for SDR managers to hold regular training and coaching sessions.
Training can encompass sales techniques in prospecting, developing a customer experience through effective communication, orienting and refreshing them about your sales process, and updating their knowledge in using sales tools.
SDR managers are also encouraged to implement mobile-based training, where videos and other materials are accessible by phone. The flexibility that mobile-based training provides allows employees to learn on different devices, offline or online, and juggle learning with other tasks. It also comes in handy when they have to troubleshoot problems and need information quickly.
Build Your A-Team
Flockjay has built its reputation in training hundreds of students through its 10-week tech sales course. Three years since its inception, Flockjay is now addressing many of the challenges that early-career sales professionals face once on the job with a platform that allows sales professionals to advance their careers through the power of learning with others.
Shaan Hathiramani, the CEO of Flockjay, shares, “While training hundreds of aspiring sales reps every month in our online sales academy, we have seen that leading companies are struggling to provide ways to access institutional knowledge, industry expertise, real-time coaching, and peer support to drive rep performance and motivation in remote environments. Our new online community for sales professionals helps organizations address these exact challenges.”
Join the waitlist and be among the first few to gain access to Flockjay’s soon-to-be-launched on-the-job success platform for SDRs.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.