During the pandemic, B2B sales, along with other industries, shifted to remote communication.
According to a McKinsey survey released in 2020, over 45% of customers prefer remote interactions with sales teams every step of the way – from identifying and evaluating suppliers to ordering and reordering.
It’s worth pointing out that, unlike other industries, the sudden shift hasn’t caught sales teams by surprise, as the transition to remote selling culture was underway for over a decade.
Twelve years later, the tools may have changed but the groundwork for remote sales interactions was solid and in place.
Although teams transitioned to a post-pandemic remote sales culture with relative ease, setting up remote onboarding for new reps is an ongoing struggle. When new hires join organizations remotely, they have a difficult time interacting with colleagues and staying engaged in training sessions.
Key challenges of remote sales training:
- Limited interactions with colleagues slowed down the pace of improvement for new hires. Survey data shows that, for 56% of salespeople, learning from their colleagues was the number-one way to improve performance. In a remote environment, there are fewer opportunities for peer-to-peer learning. That can be especially detrimental to new hires who are yet not fully autonomous and need to rely on others for information and knowledge sharing. Competitive dynamics that increase reps’ motivation in the office are not as prominent in a remote setting either.
- Remote sales training techniques have little focus on building virtual selling skills. As they think about talent success profiles of the future, leaders should envision someone skilled in communicating virtually using email, social selling, and video conferencing. At the moment, traditional online sales training is ineffective in building those competencies: only 26% of buyers believe that reps are skilled in presenting products virtually while 84% find that sales teams struggle to clearly communicate ROIs remotely.
- Fewer opportunities for 1-on-1 sales coaching. 47% of salespeople working at their companies for up to 2 years see turning to their managers for guidance as essential. In a remote environment, there are few ways for leaders to spontaneously engage with their reports, so one-on-one training can become sporadic and less effective.
As it was, sales training in most organizations was already inefficient: 80% of newly hired reps forgot what they were taught by the end of the quarter. Working remotely has exacerbated these challenges and sent managers on the lookout for new methods and tools that would help support reps virtually.
At the same time, those who managed to create a functioning sales training system were seeing drastic improvements in win rates and employee retention.
Importance of building an effective sales training program: key data points
- The average cost of sales training is considerably lower ($2000) than that of hiring new reps ($10,000-$15,000).
- Organizations that supported salespeople with real-time deal-specific training saw an 8.4% year-on-year increase in revenue, 95% higher than those that did not offer a similar level of commitment.
- Consistent sales coaching improved the productivity of core performers by up to 19%
- 18 months of dedicated coaching helped teams improve win rates from 25% to 54%.
- Reps at companies with effective sales onboarding programs reach their peak productivity 3 months sooner compared to those who don’t have a well-set-up onboarding strategy.
- Leaders focused on providing best sales training and enablement are 31% more efficient in supporting sales messaging changes and improve the productivity of low performers by 15%.
All data points considered, effective sales training is a near-sure way to grow revenue, maximize output, and reduce time-to-productivity while the absence of a coaching program is detrimental and could cost leaders up to 60% of their salesforce.
That’s why, as they move forward with onboarding remote employees in sales, leaders have to make sure they focus on all aspects of high-quality sales training online: a wide range of activities (shadowing, role-playing, etc.), collaboration between teammates, and an easy way for new hires to reach out to managers.
One of the most readily available and effective ways to streamline remote sales training is by introducing new technologies that would help bridge the communication gap between reps and managers, as well as between new hires and the rest of the team.
Anticipating the shift to a digitized salesforce, the CEO of Microsoft said in 2021:
In sales training specifically, platforms that remove the barrier between new hires and team leaders by successfully imitating in-office dynamics have game-changing potential.
At oVice, we helped over 2,200 organizations seamlessly shift their training to the remote environment by supporting teams with customizable digital office spaces. For many, enabling frictionless employee onboarding and improving engagement in training was an important milestone the platform helped reach.
7 ways to use oVice to improve sales training effectiveness
Customization and versatility allow oVice to fit a wide variety of applications – from day-to-day work to team-building events or client-facing communications. Out of the wide array of possible oVice use cases, sales training is one of the most popular ways our clients use the platform.
Below, we explore top remote onboarding best practices for improving the speed and efficiency of sales ramp-up.
1. Removing communication barriers
oVice makes it easier for new sales reps to get a hold of a manager when they need to ask a question or solve a problem.
Overall, the platform helps streamline all interactions that require an instant response. Instead of writing a message on Slack and waiting for the team leader to respond, in oVice, it’s enough to walk up to a manager’s desk and start a conversation to solve bottlenecks.
Tip: since sales reps are often highly independent, we believe that asking them to stay in the virtual office nine-to-five can be discouraging and restricting. Instead, we recommend setting up core hours during which everyone is available and allowing people to log in flexibly through the rest of the day.
2. A single platform for all remote employee onboarding activities
Having to switch between different tools – chat apps, video conferencing platforms, and learning management systems – adds to the confusion of sales manager training, especially for new remote hires.
Even those experienced in navigating remote collaboration stacks might feel distracted by having to use three to five platforms throughout the day.
oVice helps improve training focus and retention by uniting all training interactions in a single platform. It allows leaders to:
- Share learning content with new hires using the Embedded content feature
- Answer quick questions on instant audio chat
- Set up 1-on-1s and performance reviews in a private meeting room
- Host a workshop for the entire team in the training area
- Supervise new hire’s calls on Zoom without leaving the virtual office space with a built-in Zoom integration.
Tip: we recommend sales team leaders to leverage the power of our Embedded content feature to share learning materials, organizational documents, or assessment and survey forms you want the new reps to fill out.
3. Strengthening relationships within the team
oVice creates a shared space that brings new hires closer together and provides them with a platform for discussions and collaboration.
Employees at our partner organizations have repeatedly stated that they appreciate the ability to have a quick chat after a training session and review the takeaways or ask each other questions before reaching out to the manager.
The space-sharing concept of oVice makes it easier to approach teammates, as you can see when they are available or join spur-of-the-moment meetings without having to ask for an invite.
Tip: Our partners succeeded in promoting workplace communication by creating lounge and coffee break areas. Here, new hires can bounce ideas off of each other and get to know the rest of the team. Team-building events like happy hours and lunches will help build team bonds faster.
4. Aligning all departments
As the B2B salesforce becomes more collaborative, the number of salespeople handling shared accounts has increased. However, out of those, only 11% share the same building while 43% are in different districts and 7% work from different countries.
For a new hire, connecting with a colleague from a branch office is all the more challenging considering the lack of prior in-person connection. In a traditional remote setting, newly onboarded reps will have to introduce themselves asynchronously and book a catch-up call for a video introduction.
oVice makes reaching out to people from different branches a lot more seamless by creating a shared space for all sales districts. To align offices across states and countries, our clients create virtual spaces with multiple floors, each floor corresponding to a different branch.
A sales rep will be able to connect with a colleague from a different office by moving between virtual spaces with one click.
Tip: to make navigating regional office spaces easier, use bulletin boards that show the name of each area.
5. Facilitating shadowing
oVice enriches the experience of virtual shadowing. Usually, in remote sales teams, it is limited to being present at scheduled meetings and gives reps few opportunities to connect with mentors.
oVice makes it easier for team members to get new hires up to speed. It allows mentors to hear and contribute to the conversations (client meetings or role-playing sessions among new hires) and give them real-time suggestions.
Also, oVice helps new reps quickly reach out to mentors they shadow during the day with “over-the-shoulder” questions on the product, handling client meetings, or the particulars of organization culture.
Tip: a sense of proximity and availability will increase if a new rep and a designated mentor sit next to each other throughout the day.
6. Spotting engagement red flags and making adjustments early on
oVice gives sales team leaders a bird’s eye view of the team, enabling them to see how often new hires interact with the rest of the team and how comfortable they are to join discussions.
The platform gives managers indicators of a new hire’s isolation – inconsistent presence in the space, few interactions with others, etc. – so that they can intervene and make sure everyone is included.
Tip: to have better visibility of interactions in your team, encourage employees to have conversations in the virtual space rather than on the phone.
7. Promoting cross-department collaboration
Aligning sales processes with marketing, customer support, and the product helps increase the win rate and drive revenue. That’s why team leaders should encourage new hires to collaborate with other departments from Day 1.
In a remote workplace, connecting the dots between marketing, product, and sales is harder due to the lower accessibility and visibility of the team.
oVice solves the problem by giving all departments a common space for interactions. The platform encourages fluid discussions between sales reps and marketers, product developers, and customer success managers.
Tip: Help new reps understand where to find colleagues from a specific team by dividing your space into labeled areas for each department.
Effective training is one of the key determinants of a sales team’s success, as data shows a strong correlation between commitment to coaching and productivity spikes, as well as growing win rates.
However, as sales teams commit to operating remotely, leaders face unique challenges in onboarding and ramping up new hires: lack of connection, limited contact with the rest of the team, and decreasing engagement and motivation.
At oVice, we helped sales team leaders overcome these hurdles by setting up shared virtual spaces where new reps can effortlessly and spontaneously connect with managers and the rest of the team.
Discover how oVice helps organizations facilitate remote operations and learn remote onboarding tips by exploring our case studies. To learn more about the platform and its features, visit the demo space.