Forget the idea of post pandemic work returning to the good ol’ days. New data shows the virtual methods of doing business that were honed during the pandemic years are here to stay.
The latest report from cloud-based software company Salesforce reveals nearly 60% of sales reps believe their jobs have changed forever.
Jo Gaines, Area Vice President for Salesforce Digital 360, has spent over 20 years working in media and technology, her experience in commerce and marketing spanning from startups to mature organizations. She recently shared her insights with ‘SMarketing’ guru and Founding CEO of Sales Redefined Abbie White on her popular Sales Redefined podcast.
Abbie White: The most recent Salesforce report charts responses and insights from 6,000 sales professionals. 58% of sales reps believe their job has changed forever. Can you give us a read on this?
Jo Gaines: The idea of salespeople in the past used to be a person driving around in their Camry with a fax machine in the back. When we went into this world of lockdowns and isolation, the role of sales changed fundamentally. We had to get used to building relationships virtually and re-learning how to build trust when you can’t sit across the table from someone and look them in the eye. We’ve always said that it’s easier to retain a customer than it is to win a new one. But now we must work even harder to retain those customers and maintain those relationships. It’s not just about new business sales. It’s about how do you retain the ones that you’ve got.
Abbie White: What I also found interesting from the Salesforce research was that many leaders stated that they’re under-prepared to address some the changes that are occurring and the challenges that come with that. Can you talk about that?
Jo Gaines. We are in this remote and distributed workforce now. And so, for leaders, there’s so many changes to factor in. How do you keep an eye on your team? How do you keep up with what they’re doing? How do you create a digital first and very flexible work culture, but, with trust at the heart of it? Clarity is a priority. For instance, we’ve decided to go down this path of having industry aligned sales teams. And it makes so much sense. We’re talking the language of the customer and really understanding what’s happening with the physical to digital retail.
Abbie White: I saw in the research how 70% of organizations are now looking at how they retrain their field sales teams to sell from home. How has Salesforce approached this?
Jo Gaines: We have tools for this. We have Trailhead, which is our online learning, which you can completely customize for your team. We have Slack, which is our digital HQ, so you can stay connected with your team. We have video and voice huddles. At Salesforce we have tools that we provide to customers that help them to train, upskill and keep their teams connected. At heart, we’re a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) business.
Abbie White: In terms of retraining the team, what process did you use to help people sell effectively from home when they are not physically present with a customer?
Jo Gaines: I ask my team to have their videos (cameras) on. We set clear ground rules with people. Some meetings might be walking meetings because not every meeting has to be sitting in front of a screen, but it’s important to establish that and put that detail into the invite.
Abbie White: What key factors are Salesforce predicting which will influence the future of sales?
Jo Gaines: Automation which brings more efficiency into the process. We’re seeing a lot of salespeople using AI to inform and drive communications. I use Einstein to help me predict, forecast and really help me understand what’s going on in my business, beyond what my team tell me. Einstein is our artificial intelligence layer that we bring into our products. Within our CRM, I use an Einstein layer to give me more support.
Abbie White: I love how accessible AI is becoming, also from a price perspective. That’s what’s so good about tools like Einstein. And on that note, I know the latest stats show high performance salespeople are 2.8 times more likely to use AI, which pretty much speaks for itself!
To listen to Abbie White and Jo Gaines on the Sales Redefined podcast, please click here.