Selling Through Change: 4 Key Concepts for Remote Sales Teams

By Bill Leigh

While teams around the world are suddenly adjusting to a new work-from-home reality, sales organizations are facing a special set of remote work challenges. How do you maintain business continuity and momentum when the entire sales team is at home?

Under normal circumstances, sales reps spend as much as 66% of their time in non-selling activities like manual data entry and admin tasks. Meeting notes, account plans, and other data and decisions might be isolated in notebooks, emails, chat threads, or note-taking apps, making it hard for team members to get up to speed on an account. Data is exported to reports which become quickly out of date. These problems can get worse in an all-remote sales team, where it’s already challenging to stay connected and stay on task.

Now more than ever it’s important to get everyone on the same page and keep them there. The key is to keep data and processes inside CRM. That’s the basic idea behind embedding Quip in Salesforce, which is called Quip for Customer 360. The four concepts below are the focus areas of Quip for Customer 360, but they can be the backbone of any remote sales team’s success strategy.

1. Standardize Best Practices

Scaling your sales team's processes starts with getting every rep running their deals the same way. Institute standard procedures by using templates that make it easy to do the right thing next. Here are a few key areas to standardize:

  • Account Plans: Even if your team isn't in the same place, account plans are a great way to get everyone on the same page to help your customer. Account plans increase visibility and alignment across teams. They should be created and kept in a shared, collaborative document that team members can reference and revise throughout the year, ideally incorporating live CRM data. Start every one with an account plan template so account plans are in a standard format.
  • Meeting Notes: Keep meeting and opportunity notes in a shared, collaborative environment, ideally in the context of Salesforce. Use a template for notes to make sure they contain consistent information, so every account’s notes are as useful as possible.
  • Close Plans: Successful sales reps are often polished project managers who can effectively organize, communicate, and track against a plan to close a deal. That begins with a close plan, which should also be kept inside CRM as a living, editable document that starts with a standard template. That way, reps can collaborate with other team members with live Salesforce data and real-time co-editing. If you keep deliverables and action items visible in Salesforce, rather than buried in email and static documents, the team can stay focused on the plan and on the same page instead of scrambling to close at the end of the quarter.

2. Automate Repeatable Processes

Once you’ve defined and standardized best practices, automate them to make them easier and faster. Examples of sales automation inside CRM include:

  • Creating a close plan automatically once an opportunity reaches a certain stage
  • Auto-populating close plan documents with data from the Opportunity or Account
  • Sending instant notifications when data is updated or deals close, so the whole team can stay updated

When processes are auto-triggered, when everyone gets updated automatically, when one process kickstarts the next one — your team can stop thinking about what to do next, and just focus on making their customers successful.

3. Empower Your Team with Live Data

With sales teams working from home, having data that’s always up-to-date is essential. The common practice of pulling data out of your CRM to share, analyze, and discuss only works as long as the data doesn’t change. If you copy data into an account plan or pull a report into Excel, it quickly becomes stale. As soon as CRM data changes, exported data is out of date, and the report needs to be pulled again and again. This leads to inaccuracy, redundant workflows, and extra meetings to catch up.

Your CRM should be the single source of truth for your business. That means anywhere you see CRM data it needs to be current. Keep it simple by incorporating live data in your account plans, opportunity notes, and close plans.

CRM data isn't just what you find in structured fields. It's also the collective knowledge that your team develops about your customers — everything from important insights after a customer call to the critical discussions about a report. Empowering your team with live data also means equipping them with all the knowledge you have, both structured and free-form. The most successful businesses will be the ones that can marry the two in a shared context that helps drive value for both the business and the customer.

4. Ignite Teamwork with Real-Time Collaboration

Working from home can feel like a solitary experience, with each person on their own. With the entire team working this way, it’s crucial to have systems in place that foster collaboration and teamwork. For sales reps, CRM is the primary workspace, so as much as possible, keep collaboration and communication in CRM. That way, discussions and decisions are always in the context of current CRM data.

Collaborative workspaces also offer the advantages of speed and accuracy. Real-time co-editing is much faster and more accurate than turn-taking or having multiple versions of documents hidden away in long email threads. Getting up to speed on an account is quick and seamless, and fewer time-consuming mistakes are made as a result. Working this way is also easier and more fun, in that it reflects how team members use social media and other software in their personal lives.

Watch this short video to learn how sales reps can use Quip to stay connected with customers while working from home.