Remote Selling Challenge #2: Shifting to Digital Sales

Meghan MacRae

3 minutes

Using the ThoughtExchange enterprise discussion management platform, we connected with 300 Fortune 1000 Revenue Leaders from across the continent to find out what obstacles to growth they were facing in 2021.

At the beginning of 2020, your seasoned sales team used their tried-and-true in-person methods to meet your market. But almost overnight, sales became an online game, and that left many people on the outs. Suddenly they needed to adapt to a new way of communicating solely through digital channels. For a profession built on interpersonal skills, that’s a big ask. 

Many of the revenue leaders we spoke to are concerned about how to implement the shift to digital sales:

“Changing culture and selling behavior in an extremely seasoned sales force.”

“Getting my team to think outside the box. Those that do are very successful.”

That last thought is right on the money (no pun intended). In their analysis of organizations that are thriving in the current pandemic climate, McKinsey found that companies that “use the situation as an opportunity to innovate more and faster” and eschew their pre-pandemic long-term visions are flourishing. So it’s vital to find ways to innovate how your team approaches remote selling.

When we looked at the Exchange results, it was clear that leaders of both remote and hybrid remote workplaces are very concerned with the shift to digital sales. Our Heatmaps feature shows that this theme was the only one rated highly by both groups of leaders:

That said, it’s hard for people with decades of sales experience to make such a dramatic shift in a short amount of time. In addition, they may not feel comfortable with digital sales, and they may not know how to translate their in-person skills for the online market. 

As their leader, you need to help them transition as quickly and efficiently as possible and avoid letting resentment over the changes fester among your sales teams.

Diagnose and solve your sales problems as they arise

To successfully transition your sales team to digital channels, you need to identify the gaps in their knowledge and understand their most pressing needs. You could spend weeks in meetings with individual team members, drowning in notes, and be left to synthesize strategies to get them on track. 

Or you could use a discussion tool like ThoughtExchange. It allows you to plan out a cadence of exchanges to diagnose and solve your team’s challenges and puts the data at your fingertips in just minutes. 

  • Run an Exchange to ask them a question like, “What resources and support do you need to accelerate your success in remote sales?” or, “What is getting in your way of being more successful in remote sales right now?” 
  • Access candid sharing and rating on our platform, so your team will feel comfortable voicing their honest thoughts. Our analytics make it easy for you to output and share a prioritized list of their needs and challenges, providing you with insights to act on. 
  • Use our Planner to set a cadence of follow-up exchanges to explore each challenge in-depth and find nuanced solutions. You could also run the exchange live in a meeting, and have your team discuss the top thoughts in breakout groups so they can share knowledge and solutions with each other and the larger group.

The key here is you’re able to get feedback from all members of your sales team in just a few minutes instead of weeks of 1:1 meetings. It’s easy to plan out follow-up exchanges to keep everyone on track with their learning and meeting their targets. They feel heard, you get actionable insights—a win-win for your people and your profits.

About the Author

Meghan MacRae

Meghan was raised by an English teacher, thus she found a way to incorporate her instinct for grammar and spelling into her career. She honed her corporate writing skills in clothing companies and the music industry, and brings a passion for creativity and playful wordsmithing to her work at ThoughtExchange. When she’s not crafting language that brings people together, she’s reading a thesaurus, playing Uno with her kids, cooking and singing and dancing, and collecting vinyl and art.