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Scaling Revenue Teams in a Hybrid World

Scaling Revenue Teams in a Hybrid World
Mallory Lieflander
February 3, 2022

Scaling a sales team is a challenging opportunity for sales leaders. Throw in the complexity of a hybrid team and it becomes even more difficult to scale cohesively.

As the Director of Sales Enablement here at Demodesk, I have firsthand experience with scaling a revenue team amidst a changing workplace landscape.

With this in mind, I wanted to ask Liz Hajjar (Sr. Director of Sales @ Highspot) and Lauren Heying (Sr. Director of Global Sales Development @ Optimizely) more about how they have successfully scaled their revenue teams within their companies. We chatted about how to scale virtually as well as shared some tactical advice for leveling up your team’s skills, regardless of where they work.

Would you prefer to listen to our conversation? Listen about Scaling Revenue Team in a Hybrid World in our webinar, here.

How to scale your sales team

Scaling a sales team, especially during such a unique time in the workforce, can often feel a bit overwhelming. Here’s what we’ll cover to help you out:

Decide on a Hybrid vs Remote vs In-Person Workplace

Should you go fully remote? Or are you trying to return to an in-person office? Maybe a hybrid model is a perfect solution for your team?

Regardless of which model you choose, the important note is to make a decision before you start scaling your team. Decide on the team environment so that you can plan your management style, coaching, and growth around that decision.

Hybrid work approach

Consider the reps and their roles

Take into consideration all the factors at play — including the specific roles of your reps.

For example, with SDRs specifically, there is so much value in being on the floor with each other. Shadowing cold calls and learning best practices throughout the sales process are great learning opportunities for new reps. There is also more of a chance for hands-on coaching when managers and their reps are together in person.

Reps working off each other in real-time on the sales floor can also mean creating a sales strategy together.

“If there’s a rep who’s performing something really well, have them break it down tactically & help train the group”
- Elizabeth Hajjar

On the other hand, leaders should remember that people have become reliant on the remote lifestyle. Many have moved to different cities or countries for more space. Some have gotten used to more time with their family or not commuting to work — so much so that ‘in-person only’ offices may be a dealbreaker for some reps.

Find a middle ground

Hybrid teams can be a great way to move forward. This setup keeps the positive aspects of being in-person while still allowing employees to be partially remote.

72% of talent professionals agree that work flexibility, including remote work options, will be very important for the future of recruiting.

The main takeaway here is to really think about what’s best for the company and your employees. Reps should also have the autonomy to determine what works best for them. When you are scaling a team, ensure that whichever avenue you choose, you’ll be able to continue steady growth.

Remote work options

Be aware of changes in remote hiring

Having a hybrid or remote work environment can bring some additional challenges to the interview and onboarding process.

For interviews, be prepared for the nuances that come with virtual hiring. For example, it’s hard for the interviewee to get a feel of your company’s environment through a computer. Understanding the company culture is essential for new hires when they are making their decision, so think about ways you can showcase your company remotely.

Bring in other team members from different departments to talk about how they work together. Or set up an informational chat with some of the other reps on the same team. Create opportunities for these potential hires to feel the energy of the office.

Changes in remote hiring

Sharpen Your Onboarding Process

Leaders need to sharpen their onboarding framework to adjust to the ongoing shifts in the workforce.

Set up a scalable framework

What does this look like exactly? Well, let’s take Lauren’s SDR onboarding process as an example:

  1. During the hiring process: they ask specific situational and behavioral questions to determine if the rep is open to learning in this role.
  2. Once the rep has been hired: they complete an ‘SDR Bootcamp’ — a one-month intensive training.
  3. Continuous growth: Their sales manager also creates a 30/60/90 plan with regular check-ins for progress, feedback, and discussions about roadblocks.

Once the SDR completes their 90th day, Lauren knows that her rep is ready to go, regardless of where they are working.

This kind of framework is scalable, thoughtful, and adaptable — not to mention it’s been proven to work for her team. Keep these aspects in mind as you improve or build your own onboarding process.

Proactively equip new hires with resources

Ensure your reps have access to the information they need before they even ask for it. This way they feel set up for success from their very first day.

Create org charts and keep updated company information readily available for your team. Build your sales playbooks and battle cards digitally so all reps can access these resources at any time.

Learn how to reduce ramp time and increase close rates

Set up a buddy system

Assign new reps an onboarding buddy. They can help each other with questions while also building up their selling skills individually. Buddies can be assigned in-person or remotely, which makes it a great option regardless of how your workplace is set up.

Encourage cross-functional relationships

Bring in point people from other departments during the onboarding process. These introductions give the new hire context as to who the main point of contact may be for other teams.

Let’s say you have a new hire who is currently ramping up. Instead of having the rep try to reach out to every “Head of”, you decide to schedule those 1:1s as part of their onboarding process. Now, they are already one step ahead.

Even post-onboarding, it’s important to maintain this unity across teams. As you scale, it becomes harder to keep everyone connected. Implement monthly virtual coffee meet-ups where people from different departments are randomly assigned to one another. No agenda or goal — simply an opportunity to take a break together and get to know another member of the organization.

Remote Scaling Advice for Sales Leaders

Whether you’re building new teams or revamping your current structure, we have some solid advice when it comes to scaling remotely.

Consider Exactly What You Need - Get Specific!

As you’re scaling your team, focus on what your specific team members need and determine how you can help them. Let’s say you are scaling your SDR team. Oftentimes, these reps are still green in their career. Think about how the setup of the team can help SDRs learn efficiently and grow with support.

In addition, focus on where you want to hire. For example, when Liz was working at Glassdoor, they decided to open up a second office location in Chicago. Knowing that they wanted to build out a specific sales team there, they started their search by asking themselves “Does the city have the sales talent that we need?” and then built the team from there.

If you are scaling a global sales team, you also need to consider the different language barriers. Think logically about how you’ll grow your team so they can service your clients across the globe.

Expect the Unexpected

It can be easy for reps to get lost in the unknown if they are coming onto a team remotely. Here are a few ways to handle the unexpected challenges that can come with scaling remotely:

Over-communicate

Figure out your communication style and build a solid flow from there.

  • How do you want to communicate with your team that feels authentic to you as their leader?
  • Which method of communicating works best for both you and your reps?
  • What hasn’t been working?
  • Are you lacking communication with a specific rep or team?

As a leader, it’s on you to make sure reps know what you’re up to as well as what’s happening within the company. Reps should be kept in the loop as much as possible. The more information they know about their team and the direction of the organization, the more they will feel part of the overall unit.

Use you meetings to figure out what reps actually need

Enforce the importance of calendar management

As the manager of the team, lead by example. Give yourself the grace to be a little more strict with your time and encourage your team to do the same. It’s all about prioritizing and ensuring that everyone’s time is being utilized in the best way.

Have everyone break down their schedules in a way that is most useful for them and then stick to it.

Ask for an agenda before every meeting. (As Lauren likes to say, “No Agenda, No Attenda!”). Try to notice if your reps are being bogged down with internal meetings.

Make sure there is a purpose for all internal meetings and that there is thought behind how you schedule them. Keep a few days free from internal meetings so reps can solely focus on completing their tasks for the week.

Keep Your Team (and Self) Motivated

One of the most difficult aspects of scaling a hybrid team is consistently finding ways to motivate your reps.

Focus on Mental Health

While I feel like we all originally leaned into the remote happy hours and other fun virtual hangouts, Zoom fatigue hit people quickly. Instead, employees began looking for a mental health reprieve.

Burnout is a very real struggle for employees and reps can feel it regardless of whether their workforce is in-person, fully remote, or hybrid. In fact, more than 67% of employees in sales overall are close to experiencing burnout.

67% sales employees experience burn out

Consider options like offering recharge days once a month or once a quarter. This allows your whole team to take a mental health break, without feeling like they have to work through their burnout.

If your teams are dealing with at-home fatigue, invest in a shared workspace. Give people an option to change their environment when they feel burnout.

Set Friendly Competitions

Set up weekly goals or create team competitions for special prizes. These work for in-person and remote reps, so it’s a great way to get everyone working towards a goal, together and individually.

For example, let’s say you give your team a number to hit that week. If they hit it, then they can have a half-day on Friday. Or set a quarterly individual goal and the rep who hits that number gets an extra PTO day. Get creative!

Recognize Your Team’s Wins

Consider small promotions or merit increase bumps to maintain motivation throughout the team. This can be quite helpful when it comes to scaling a sales team.

For example, maybe you want to promote a rep to a position that isn’t available at the moment, but you don’t want to lose them. A merit bump is a great way to show the rep that they’re appreciated and moving in the right direction while you are building out your team.

It’s always great to give recognition during company all-hands meetings and in group slack channels. Don’t forget to bring in cross-departmental people who helped make the win. This not only motivates your team but helps the entire organization remember that everyone is working together — an important reminder as you scale.

Level Up Your Teams

Identify the Shifts in Sales

When scaling their team, sales leaders need to ask themselves, “how can my growing team adapt to the constant changes in selling?”.

“Personalization is the only thing that is really going to get you meetings.” - Lauren heying

For Lauren, she noticed that the SDR metrics have changed drastically. In the early days, it was more about the number of cold calls made and hitting outreach metrics. However, now she’s noticed that her SDRs have to start incorporating more human elements into their conversations.

In a recent Salesforce study, 71% of sales reps said building a personal relationship with a prospect has a substantial impact on conversion rates.

71% of sales reps say building a personal relationship with  a prospect has a substantial impact on conversion rates

The reps who implement this social selling approach are the ones who end up being top performers.

For Liz, AEs need to be far more prepared when selling to prospects. Currently, there is more information about businesses that can be found prior to discovery, so AEs need to know how to personalize information in a way that connects with the prospect. They have to create a formula for where to pull information and how to use it.

Prospects are approaching these meetings more educated about products so reps need to make it worth their time. All reps should focus on including context with their discovery. Remind them to tailor their conversations to the prospect instead of simply pushing a product sell.

Be Proactive with Struggling Reps

If your rep is struggling — check in with them before it becomes a problem. Ask them:

  • How are you doing?
  • Are you enjoying this?
  • Where are you seeing roadblocks?

Sales coaching is one of the most important tasks as a hybrid team leader and you have to remain consistent, especially as you’re scaling your team.

Integrate Personal Development Processes

Create a way to showcase and review a rep’s development. It’s often hard for a rep to see their own progress, so this is a great way to remind them how well they are doing and recognize their growth.

At Optimizely, they’ve incorporated a Points To Improve (PTI) process which is a 6-part process between the SDR and their manager. It includes six sessions where they work towards a goal or improve certain skills. After the sessions, the SDR executes an action plan to move forward.

Top performing SDRs look back on what  they did right and what they can improve on.

Come up with a development process for your reps to utilize as your team is scaling. Reps want to know whether they have room to grow their career at your company, so showcase your desire to help them level up their skills.

Don’t Stop Training After Onboarding

Remember, as a leader, you can’t solely train one person to the extreme. Instead, incorporate group training within your own coaching framework.

Keep a weekly training on the books so reps can continue to work on their skills. Make it more interactive by having the reps choose the training topic! Integrate monthly cross-departmental sessions where other team members can come and chat about new product features or discuss client wins.

Don’t forget to use your team as well. Since reps are the ones selling every day, they are often the best people to help train new hires. Give them the platform to help out their team members through mentorship programs or virtual team huddles.

Regardless of their location, if your reps are able to train, improve and strategize cohesively, then you’re more likely to succeed in scaling your team.

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