Does a Virtual Office Environment Inhibit Sales Performance?

A year ago, both Sales Reps and Sales engineers moved to working in a virtual environment at their homes. Bob the VP of Sales conducts weekly phone based sales and forecast calls.  Phone calls tend to last between 1 and 2 hours.  Bob notices that though the Sales Engineers seem to be very engaged in these calls – and in fact have mentioned their appreciation of having a chance to walk through the details comprehensively – he notices that the sales reps seem to be disengaging on the calls – and perhaps not even paying attention unless they are speaking.  He suspects they are answering email, and are multi-tasking in other ways.

Virtual teams are a strange development for Bob. Noted for his ability to communicate throughout his stellar career, Bob has been troubled by the inconsistent sales execution last quarter.  Bob is trying to diagnose what went wrong and what impact the virtual environment and subsequent virtual communication is having on his reps’ performance. Does the virtual office environment inhibit sales performance?  If so – is there anything to do about this or  is his team a victim of the virtual workforce?

Bob is determined to find out and is optimistic he will. He reads the latest research from Accenture and discovers he is far from alone; the amount of virtual workers went up by 800% from 2001-2006 as discussed in The Talent Powered Organization (2007). Surely, this phenomenon is happening in organizations around the world. Bob then remembers that his organization uses talent analytics to understand what is important to their people.  His sales reps and sales engineers were part of an effort to understand their executives after the merger which was so successful it became an enterprise wide initiative to understand all employees.

Bob remembered the impact this data had on helping him hire a sales team that until the virtual office scenario, had been top performers.  He wanted to see if the talent analytics could be useful in a different context.

He looked at his team’s data – reports and visuals that identified the optimal environment for his team gave him the ‘aha’ moment his was looking for.

Talent anaytics demonstrate that top performing sales people can quickly feel disconnected and disengaged without the ability to regularly connect and engage with teammates. In effect, they may not be well suited for a home office environment.

Tip: Find a reason to bring them into corporate headquarters several times a quarter and arrange for meetings and other interactions with colleagues and executive personnel. Also, be sure to regularly check in with them on a personal level as hunters appreciate and come to rely on their 1:1 personal connection with their manager.

Armed with talent analytics data about his direct reports provided by Talent Analytics Advisor, Bob is able to view an aggregated report that encompasses communication techniques – and what to avoid – shared by all his direct reports. Viewing the communication “do’s and don’ts” at once provides him with the communication playbook he needs to deliver his message to all. The result is the initiative is implemented successfully, the executive board is happy and Bob does not have to fly anywhere – and can sleep at night.

Do you know a Bob in your organization? Get in touch – Talent Analytics can help.

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