Remote work has quickly become one of the most desired benefits a company can offer its employees. And why wouldn’t it? According to Owl Labs, people who work from home report higher job satisfaction and overall happiness at work, higher salaries than on-site workers, and less stress. A remote work model also benefits employers, with those permitting employees to work from home reporting less turnover, reduced overhead costs, and higher rates of employee productivity. Yet, 44% of companies across the globe still don’t allow any remote work. Until this week, that is.
In the last few days, more and more companies worldwide have temporarily shut their doors and sent their employees home in favor of a new remote work or virtual selling setup. Ready or not, telecommuting has instantaneously become the new normal.
As a work-from-home veteran, I admit working from home in this reality is a bit more challenging. With two small children at home with me, this week has brought more snacks, giggles, and tantrums to my workday than usual. But with the right tools in place (and let’s be honest, Daniel Tiger), I’ve been lucky enough to, for the most part, continue operating “business as usual” – a welcome burst of consistency in an otherwise uncertain time.
I understand that for many workers around the world, this isn’t the case. To help any sellers and marketers who may not be accustomed to working out of your home, I’ve rounded up a collection of the Mediafly team’s favorite tools – all very essential to a successful remote workday – that you can start using today, in addition to the basics like email.
1. Web conferencing software to keep buyers engaged
In an in-person sales meeting, or any business meeting for that matter, you rely on your ability to read people to determine where to take the conversation next and what questions to ask. If people seem uninterested in what you’re saying, you pivot the conversation to recapture their attention.
But what happens when you take people’s faces out of the equation? You run the risk of them multitasking or zoning out and lose the ability to gauge if what you’re presenting is truly resonating with your audience. And if what you’re presenting doesn’t resonate, they certainly aren’t going to purchase whatever it is your selling. Web conferencing software including WebEx, Zoom, and GoToMeeting offers you the ability to host one to one or group video calls with prospects, customers or colleagues anywhere in the world.* It gives you the facetime you need to ensure your buyer remains engaged throughout the call and helps you effectively guide the conversation where it needs to go based on their body language.
With more and more companies making the shift to remote work, WebEx is currently offering the first month free for new customers or four months free if you purchase an annual subscription.
*For parents, this is where that Disney+ subscription becomes especially useful.
2. Business instant messaging (IM) software to increase team productivity
McKinsey & Company’s research found that companies that use IM and other social technologies outside of email, experience a 20-25% increase in productivity. The sales process has a lot of moving parts. Leads are passed from marketing to sales, sellers loop in presales engineers, specialists, and others to help provide customers the information and resources they need to move the deal forward, legal departments manage contracts, sales managers need to be updated to accurately forecast and so on and so forth. It’s easy for details to get lost in endless email threads or missed altogether over the phone. Leveraging business IM technology like Microsoft® Teams, Slack or Google Hangouts can help you streamline conversations related to a specific sale and reduce the amount of time spent sitting around waiting for imperative information.
Microsoft has made Teams available to everyone for free at this time.
3. CRM software to keep customers happy
When you lose the office, you often lose the institutional knowledge that goes along with it. To ensure all of your prospect and customer-facing employees are in the know when it comes to what’s happening within a new or existing account or opportunity, it’s important to have a centralized location to put that information. For instance, if you are a sales rep that is closing a big renewal and in the midst of negotiations, you may not want your marketing or customer success team reaching out to the customer to ask them to speak at an event or be interviewed for a case study, even if they’ve done so before.
Like the sales process, a sales organization has a lot of moving parts. Using a CRM system like Salesforce, SAP C4/HANA, Microsoft Dynamics or SugarCRM to store important customer information and meeting notes ensures everyone who touches the account is aware of any new developments every time they engage. This helps you to avoid potentially embarrassing hiccups in communication and limits the likelihood of creating tension with a customer or potential buyer. It also ensures customer communications remain consistent in the event of employee turnover at your company.
Salesforce is currently offering a free trial of its CRM software with subscription packages starting at just $25 per month thereafter.
4. Cloud storage software for easy collaboration with your team
Sales organizations, especially marketing departments within those organizations, rely heavily on collaboration to get their jobs done. Creating, writing, designing, and editing content for sales teams to leverage with customers is no easy task. But it’s further complicated when they have to deal with the headache of downloading, editing, uploading and sending the latest version of a new sales asset back and forth. Does fixing a typo really warrant a jump from v10 to v11? It does if you want to ensure everyone is working off of the latest material.
Luckily, cloud storage providers like Box, OneDrive and Google Drive exist to help marketers simplify workflows and collaboration. Having the ability to work parallel with one another in one document and automatically track and save changes, keeps everyone on the same page (literally!) and ensures your hardworking marketing team can get the assets the sales team needs to close deals out much faster.
You can create a free OneDrive account here.
5. Project management software to keep your team on task
As your marketing teams work to complete projects and begin new initiatives, keeping a widespread workforce on task can be a challenge, especially if you’re working across various timezones. Project Management tools including Trello, Asana, and monday.com™ allow you to manage all of your ongoing projects in one place. Just set your project up, assign tasks and deadlines, check items off the list as they’re completed, and rest assured that your business objectives are met.
In addition to keeping marketing projects on track, these tools are also great for keeping yourself organized and helping you visually prioritize tasks in either a list or calendar format. Trello and Asana offer free versions of their platforms. I’ve used both and found Asana to be better for collaborating with others, but prefer the simplicity of Trello when keeping track of my own projects.
6. Learning Management System (LMS) to onboard and train sellers
There are plenty of statistics that discern the ineffectiveness of classroom-style training. Now is as good a time as any to make the leap to microlearning modules. An LMS like Lessonly, MindTickle™, or SAP Litmos can help you bring canceled sales kick-off meetings online, providing the ability to record and store short training videos and distribute them to your sales team via an easy to use portal. These platforms also allow you to quiz participants on lessons completed to gauge who is retaining the information and who needs help, optimize your sales training approach, and track participation.
The “sales readiness” that a learning management system provides is proven to better prepare reps to sell and meet quotas because it’s focused on giving them the incremental knowledge they need to be most effective in front of customers versus dumping a bunch of information they may or may not need on them all at once and hoping they can recall it in later selling scenarios. It’s also a great way to get new sellers successfully onboarded and ramped fast.
Mediafly works with all three of the providers mentioned above to help our customers take their sales training and coaching digital.
7. Interactive presentation software for impactful digital selling experiences
The biggest concerns we’ve heard from sales organizations moving to a remote selling model are (1) ensuring all of their sellers have the sales collateral they need to sell effectively no matter where they are and what device they’re using; (2) the impact a digital selling model will have on their ability to provide engaging and impactful sales experiences; and (3) a loss of visibility into their sales process. Fortunately, the right sales enablement platform will solve all three of these challenges.
At Mediafly, we use our own sales enablement platform and content management platform to not only upload, manage, distribute, access, search, and share sales and marketing collateral in one location but also elevate the presentation experience – ditching static PowerPoint slides in favor of multimedia presentations with animated transitions. These interactive presentations are created from standard PowerPoint and Google Slides, as well as standard word, excel, pdf and multimedia files using simple drag and drop capabilities.
Our sellers also leverage built-in ROI and TCO calculators alongside the rest of our sales content to lead the consultative sales conversations today’s buyers crave, quantifying and communicating the economic benefits of our technology in the context of our buyers’ businesses. This is increasingly important in a digital selling environment where you have to work smarter (not harder) to differentiate your product or service from the competition.
And because our solution has been tightly integrated with the rest of our sales and martech stack, we’ve also increased our visibility into the sales process, automating data entry in CRM post-sales meetings and using associated analytics to directly tie the content presented to prospective buyers back to revenue. Understanding what content works and what doesn’t has played a key role in aligning our multinational sales and marketing teams and ensuring we’re putting our marketing budget to work.
New customers can now use Mediafly’s interactive presentation software free for 60 days. More details are available here.
Humanity: The #1 Tool in Your Arsenal
While all of these technologies will certainly help you navigate your new reality in a remote work setting, please bear in mind that under current circumstances nobody’s remote work setup will be perfect. If your colleague isn’t tech-savvy and needs help setting something up via Zoom, help them. If your boss’ dog is barking incessantly during your weekly team meeting, forgive her. If your direct report’s toddler makes her way onto his lap during a video conference with a client, say “hi!”. We’re all in this together, and the most important tool you can have in your arsenal during a time like this is empathy.
In the spirit of community, let’s continue the conversation. What challenges are you experiencing as you transition to remote work or virtual selling? Did we leave any of your favorite tools off the list? Let us know! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.