Is there a method to retain talent, reduce overhead expenses and up sales productivity? Yes; allow your sales reps to work from home. Here is how to see if telecommuting reps make sense for your enterprise:
- Helps you retain talent. Eradicating the daily commute and required cubicle time can be the difference between keeping and losing your best employees.
- Boosts productivity. Field sales reps aren’t supposed to spend a lot of time in the office. These reps can add one sales call to each day because they have skipped the step of arriving at the office first. Without a daily check-in, reps can schedule a first appointment a full hour earlier.
- Gives you access to national talent. Setting up an infrastructure to support telecommuting reps allows managers to hire the best salesperson for the job, regardless of location. “The pool of available and talented reps is vastly expanded if there’s openness to telework,” says Debra Dinnocenzo, author of 101 Tips for Telecommuters. Dinnocenzo also says that telecommuting options can help entrepreneurs retain top talent if a rep needs to relocate.
- Results in overhead savings. Since your reps should spend very little time stationed at the office, Dinnocenzo says you can pocket substantial overhead savings from letting reps work from home.
- Isolation. Sales managers must know each rep’s personality and how often to keep in contact with the salesperson. Dinnocenzo advocates using webinars and teleconferences to provide opportunities for team interaction. Strive to get local reps together on a regular basis for everything from training to team bonding. Dinnocenzo believes that “we’re basically a high-touch species, so it’s important for an entrepreneur to recognise this fundamental human need.”
- Micromanagement. Telecommuting can fail if reps require constant supervision, says Dave Stein, author of How Winners Sell: 21 Proven Strategies to Outsell Your Competition and Win the Big Sale. He says management is “much more difficult, if not impossible” with remote reps. To avoid getting stuck doing more work with telecommuting reps, beware of hiring anyone who doesn’t have a track record of working from a remote location. Ensure that candidates have successfully worked by themselves.”You can’t take someone who has worked 20 years for IBM and expect that person to be comfortable or productive working from home,” he warns. Stein also explains that reps with a history of in-office work may be able to adapt, but “more likely, they’ll be comfortable working in an office with people around and a boss close by”.
- Accountability. It can be hard to tell if your sales force is making calls or sitting around the house watching TV. Ensure accountability by setting up processes to monitor performance, including daily contact and sales-activity reports.