This past March, business leaders found ourselves in a tough spot. Keeping employees safe required a rapid shift from an in-office to a remote business model or working environment. While this shift proved easier for some companies, others found themselves lacking the basic blueprint for how to ensure a healthy sales pipeline, maintain productivity, and manage dozens, or even hundreds, of now-remote employees. The past several months have been trial by fire for many, as businesses have had to either adapt to a remote model or lose out to the companies who have.
To some, remote work may seem like an overnight sensation. That's wrong. This has been years in the making. Want proof? During the ringDNA Selling Forward conference, we asked more than 1,000 sales and marketing leaders about their productivity when working remotely. A whopping 84.42% felt that teams were either as productive or more productive working remotely.
Even before COVID-19, a subtle shift to remote work was already well underway. Over the past decade, telecommuting has grown 115% as workers have come to expect a higher degree of flexibility and work-life balance. This is especially true of millennials and Gen Z workers, who will soon outnumber older generations in the workforce. A Deloitte study even found that millennials are rejecting job offers from companies that don't offer flexible work arrangements. And this was before the pandemic.
As we move toward our next normal, we need to assume that remote work is here to stay. The ability to work from home offers employees powerful benefits like trading their commute for more flexible hours and a higher quality of life. And employees will expect to work from home for at least part of the time. As business leaders, we need to ask ourselves, do our employees have the tools they need to be productive and successful, no matter where they're working from?
Switching to a remote model will always create some challenges. Onboarding new employees is simply easier in person, and sometimes a video conference is a poor substitute for face-to-face collaboration (and the ability to grab multiple stakeholders for an in-person whiteboard session).
Overall, our transition from an on-premises to a remote selling model at ringDNA has been a smooth one. This is largely due to powerful technologies that help us maximize our employees’ job satisfaction and productivity. Looking to make a huge impact on your own team's remote success? Here are four types of technology that can help your team drive massive results while working from anywhere.
Internal communications technologies
After going remote, we were able to provide our employees with a strong sense of continuity, thanks to powerful internal communications tools. Tools that enable instant messaging like Slack act as a successful stand-in for tapping a co-worker on the shoulder to ask a question. Stiff corporate emails can be replaced by conversational instant messages. Our team also uses Slack to create specific groups and channels, so conversations can be segmented based on specific objectives. It's been inspiring to see employees across different departments working together to solve problems in real time.
Like most companies that have gone remote, we also use Zoom for our internal meetings. But we've taken this a step further. We also use Zoom to support social work events. We've hosted a remote spirit week, game nights and other events that keep our employees connected. While video conferencing can never fully replace face-to-face communication, video conferencing goes a long way toward preserving the sense of family we all experienced working together in the office.
Enterprise mobile applications
The shift to remote has transformed what work looks like, as the boundary between work and home life has blurred. In the wake of COVID-19, work is now balanced with a laundry list of personal activities, including childcare, parent care grocery shopping, and our new obsessive attention to cleanliness. We should be offering our employees tools that help support work-life balance. After all, remote productivity depends on empowering employees to manage their stress and avoid burnout.
We've found that enterprise mobile apps are a key component to achieving work-life balance. These applications offer enterprise-level functionality that once would have required reps to sit at their desk in order to access. But enterprise mobile applications give employees the flexibility to handle crucial tasks from virtually anywhere.
As an example, inside sales reps were once chained to their desks. This was necessary in order for reps to access mission-critical solutions like CRM and sales enablement tools. Stepping away from the desk meant disconnecting from the data necessary to prioritize leads, research prospects, and move deals forward. But the sales floors are now empty. And let's face it, in the age of COVID-19, it's impossible to expect reps to be tethered to their desks at home for the entire workday.
The good news is that most enterprise platforms now offer remote applications that enable reps to benefit from key functionality while on the go. Reps can now view customer data from their CRM, dial leads, and have meaningful sales conversations, all while watching their children play in the living room or doing the laundry.
Customer-facing teams need tools that help them have smart and successful conversations. But it's just as critical to give managers tools to help them coach more effectively. In this competitive economic climate, managers can't wait around until the end of a quarter to see which sales reps succeed and which ones fail. Managers need to be proactive, identifying what's working and what's not, intervening early and often.
By delivering real-time insights to managers, they can know the moment that something needs their immediate attention. They can see when reps aren't following up with hot inbound leads fast enough and know which reps need additional coaching to meet their goals. Managers should obsess over analytics. Only then can they identify crucial coaching opportunities before revenue gets left on the table.
Artificial intelligence solutions
There was a time when AI was just a buzzword that tech founders used to make their products seem exciting. But it's been proven once and for all that AI delivers real business value. AI is now being used across just about every industry to help business leaders drive revenue and make smarter decisions. At ringDNA, we've found that AI has a powerful role in supporting remote work. AI can play the role of a helpful assistant. As one example, our sales team is using AI-powered chatbots to handle mundane aspects of lead qualification. Thanks to the power of AI, human reps can focus on helping qualified prospects instead of wasting time with unqualified ones.
AI also plays a critical role in helping our managers coach sales reps while working from home. AI can take on the role of a helpful guide, revealing where our busy sales managers should be focusing their attention. In an office setting, managers can be free to walk the sales floor, listen to reps on sales calls, and assess whether reps need to tweak their messaging. But without a sales floor to walk, managers need a way to identify when reps are having successful conversations and overcoming sales objections. And likewise, they need to determine when a rep's messaging is in need of adjustment. But thanks to ConversationAI, our AI-powered conversation intelligence tool, our managers get instant alerts during key moments, like when a prospect mentions a competitor, or when a rep is not doing a good enough job of listening to their prospect.
Like it or not, remote work is here to stay. As a recent Gartner study revealed, 74% of CFOs intend to shift at least some of their employees to work from home permanently. But remote work doesn't have to mean the end of productivity. On the contrary, with the right technologies in place, you can help your remote employees improve their quality of life while also achieving more than they ever thought possible.