When I worked at Breadcrumb (Groupon), Soldsie (Chris Bennett), and Main Street Hub (GoDaddy) we tested remote SDRs and ISRs. Why do I say tested? Because it was never officially allowed, only sometimes accepted.
Interestingly enough I’ve personally managed ~500+ different sales reps over my career and most of them were working in-person with a ~20% churn rate. Historically, before the crisis, I only managed ~20 remote SDRs but saw only a 10% churn rate. In fact, the remote SDRs were always towards the top of the leaderboard.
But how could that be?
Was it because they felt trusted and empowered and when someone feels that way they perform better?
Was it because they could spend those 1-2 hours a day typically spent on commuting, instead with their children, reading, playing, teaching, learning, bonding?
Was it because by being remote it forced their managers to ‘Lean In’ more?
No more Sales Managers just happy to show up to work going through the motions…if a manager comes un-prepared to a virtual meeting it shows. It is easier to BS your way in-person.
Most of us are now managing remote SDRs and the good news is, there is some solid (anecdotal) data that shows remote SDRs perform better in comparison to in-person SDRs. A lot of different reasons for why that may be, so let’s break it down into 3 theories with action items and takeaways.
Sales is already tough because of the “what have you done for me lately” mentality. Hitting quota last month/quarter/year is great, but nothing is better or more important than hitting current quota.
Having a good culture on the sales team means there is balance between:
1) Urgency to hit targets
2) Competition with a focus on personal development
3) Being people first
When you are working in-person it is easy to leave goal setting and reviews to in-person meetings.
When working remotely, you should be sending daily if not weekly updates via email. If possible, pull KPIs from your CRM. The more visibility you give your team into their performance the more they will work to be the best.
Use Vidyard and add a video to your recap emails and watch employee engagement 📈
Over-communicate goals, targets, KPIs, timelines etc. Over-communicate.
It would be great if the top SDRs in a category of your choice could get a $100 gift certificate to a learn program of their choice. Everyone wants to use this time to level up. Let’s focus our rewards around helping our team members level up, in whatever personal way that means to them.
Lastly, recognize as a leader, your team is likely more freaked out and on edge than we are. We need to continue to be their rock. Let them vent, let them yell, let them let it all out with you, so they can give their best to our customers and their family and friends.
- Goal setting
Most of the remote SDR/remote ISDR environments I have seen have had adjusted targets for those sales reps, in comparison to in-person SDRs.
If you are cancelling your office and saving $100,000 a year, if you can, it is well worth it to reduce the quota by 10%, for example. Especially, if doing so can get your headcount churn down to 10-15%…
You can also shave off ~5% from your OTE just because there is so much value in working remotely.
Sometimes it can be hard to do this with an existing team, but no reason not to do it for new hires.
Also, as a reminder always make sure you have 3 sales targets 1) Board Goal 2) Executive Goal 3) Floor Goal. Even if your Floor Goal misses in this new remote environment, you can have a good chance of still hitting your Exec Goal and Board Goal.
- Relationship building
In-person you can build relationships with your team members to show them you are more than a boss. You can be their mentor, trainer, coach, cheerleader, friend, confidant. It is easy to do this when you go out to lunch together or attend an event together after work one evening…heck even a real-life high five goes a long way to create a connection between two people, but how do you do this when every time the two of you connect you are both staring at a screen?
You need to be thoughtful, especially with direct reports, budget up to 30% of the meeting to spent talking about personal issues. If you listen, they’ll actually ask for advice a lot on not only work problems but life problems they need help navigating.
You need to be patient.
Part of the value to in-person relationships is that we can get our dose of instant gratification immediately. Hand shaking, high-fiving, hugging, smelling perfume or cologne, all of these things cause physical reactions in our body and invoke emotions. With remote relationships, we can still create the same bond, the same feelings, the same memories, we just need to be a little more patient.
So 2 out of 3 are about people — which makes sense as it has always been about people and that strength/weakness will become even more exposed given the current climate of the market.
Don’t forget they are people, it is easy to after all if all you have are spreadsheets and Zoom.