A couple weeks ago, I created a poll for BizDev readers concerning the topic of Sales Managers allowing their reps to work remotely. As I wrote in my previous post in OpenView Venture Partners’ blog, I encountered a number of mixed opinions about this topic in recent months with management teams of expansion stage technology companies, so I thought it would make for an interesting question to pose to my audience.
The most popular answer…
39.29% of respondents chose the option “Absolutely! I can trust that my reps would get the job done regardless of location, and I am able to track activity in our CRM anyway.”
The second most clicked poll response…
25% of respondents chose that they were “On the fence. It makes me uncomfortable, but I would be open to considering the possibility if my reps were mature enough.”
…and the third most selected answer out of 7 options…
10.71% selected, “No way! I like the idea of having a healthy, team-oriented environment to keep everyone motivated and aligned.”
My conclusions: Far fewer people than I thought were against remote sales reps. People seem to be far more trusting of their sales reps, and with the technology available nowadays people are able to manage/work with their reps effectively regardless of location. With the second greatest percentage of responses being “on the fence” — I think this portrays that we are in an interesting transitional period where traditional sales managers are debating as to whether they are ready to “let go”. That’s just my opinion, so let me know if you think otherwise.
I posted the question and a link to my blog on the Inside Sales Experts LinkedIn group, and quite the conversation ensued. One comment I received that really stuck out to me was from Trish Bertuzzi (Trish is the CEO of The Bridge Group, and she actually founded the 6,934 member group of sales professionals). She wrote:
“I would like to add a point if I may. In your post you talk about the maturity of the sales rep. Although that is a requirement for success, what matters even more is the maturity of the sales process. If you are still in the stages of building your message, defining your sales process and creating your tools and infrastructure…. remote workers will struggle. Once you have a sales process that is repeatable, scalable and supported by content and systems…then you can think about remote workers, but go there too soon and your team will struggle.”
Excellent point Trish. Thank you so much for bringing this up, as this was something I overlooked in my poll. If you are considering allowing your reps to work remotely, a well-defined, fully-baked sales process that is meticulously executed, combined with the supporting tools/content to support the process, is equally as important as the maturity of the reps. You nailed it.
Another interesting point and one that would lend itself to the first option listed (which actually came in 3rd place in terms of responses) in the poll… Chris Shibel, a Regional Sales Director (Southeast) of Ping Identity writes:
“Nope, too hard to create camaraderie and momentum amongst the other team members for an inside sales team. There is nothing like a buzz from the sounds of a sales call when entering a sales floor/organization.”
So what are your thoughts? Do you agree with Chris?