Best practices for managing internal sales teams during COVID-19

Managing internal sales teams during the pandemic has presented unique challenges as well as opportunities to experiment with new sales and management strategies. SalesPage held a virtual roundtable with over 30 participants, primarily internal desk managers representing over 20 different SalesPage and SalesStation clients, to share ideas, challenges, and strategies on managing in a COVID-19 world. Let’s review some of the key themes and highlights captured during the discussion.

Keeping teams engaged

Many of the sales teams are using similar engagement tactics with some interesting new techniques.

  • Leverage work-from-home technology from Microsoft Teams to Zoom.
  • Encourage or mandate cameras to foster engagement and connection.
  • Shift from manager-led meetings to peer-led.
    • Rotate responsibilities for creating meeting content, which ranges from capital markets topics to product updates, sales pitches, and success stories.
    • Divide groups into smaller teams to encourage participation, focus on a particular topic, or match experience levels of individuals.

Training strategies

Approaches to training have some variation when it comes to new versus experienced internals.

  • Meet with new hires more often to make sure they have a game plan each day, week, and quarter.
  • Run mock scenarios and bring in senior internals to show how an opportunity can play out in real-time, successfully.
  • Take advantage of external wholesalers working from home. This experienced training resource use to be a rare commodity. Examples shared were:
    • Ride-alongs where internals joined externals’ virtual FA meetings.
    • Mock calls and role play.
    • Formalized training sessions with their own internals or cross-trained with internals from other territories.
  • Require junior internals to share ideas, questions, or objections for the overall group to comment on. This encourages participation and opportunities for experienced internals to stand out.
  • Utilize recording technology more broadly for updates and training from product heads, PMs, external wholesalers and other SMEs to create an evergreen video training library.

Measuring productivity

Tracking is still important, but the metrics and methods have needed to change.

  • Increased focus on meaningful activity, not just dials. Examples:
    • Number of pre-scheduled calls or virtual  meetings completed each week.
    • Use of a point system to drive high-value activity like msg vs call vs prescheduled video calls
    • Use segmentation of advisors to give more credit to higher-value targets.
  • Share activity metrics publicly with management and team members to drive productivity.
  • Keep a pulse on team and activity by having each team member send a short email (either daily or at the end of the week) with 1-2 successes/challenges.
  • Celebrate the wins! Whether in the form of a weekly newsletter, during an all-team meeting, or using score cards.
  • Contests still work! Continue to use competitions, both group and head-to-head, to keep teams interested and engaged.

Engagement with advisors – the new normal

With advisors and internals both working remotely, communication has shifted. Desk managers have turned their efforts to:

  • Train on technology skills with platforms like Zoom, Teams, WebEx etc. Don’t assume everyone on your team is an expert.
  • Create a process for internals to create their own approved emails for targeted outreach.
  • Look for out-of-the-box training resources for advisors. CE credits is a challenge. One source mentioned was (BEST) Broker Education Securities Training. Some states are allowing advisors to take tests virtually.
  • Promote product update webinars coupled with low-cost/high-value speakers. Some have had success with booking local journalists and authors.

What’s next?

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At the end of the roundtable, one desk manager posed a question to the group about the future state of the internal desk. Is the goal to bring internals back in the office and regain mentorship and collaboration that comes naturally with being in-person? Or are internals learning to thrive in this new normal? Will we see a shift to a remote internal sales desk? Great topics to tackle in the next discussion. Stay tuned for more opportunities to hear from the outstanding SalesPage client community!