As field marketing manager I have the unique opportunity to work with MindTickle customer-facing teams that are engaging daily on our behalf with some of the world’s most sophisticated revenue organizations and executives. This has given me some unique perspectives on the new remote environment — not just with respect to our teams, but also the individuals that our solutions enable. I often ask my colleagues — sales leaders and account executives — what we can do as a team to engage them, and equally, what they’re hearing from our customers about how they are keeping their teams engaged and thriving during this “new normal.” I found the feedback insightful, and therefore thought there was value in sharing my takeaways with other marketing teams. The following are the four that stood out.
1) Stay focused, productive and on message
During this shelter-in-place, businesses must not only offer a safe environment to train employees on the way they will do business moving forward, but also how they’re messaging and presenting themselves to the outside world. Organizations want to show they’re changing and adapting, so they must make sure that message is clearly communicated in the right way.
There must also be structure for the greater workforce that may not be accustomed to working from home, which includes providing flexible tools to deliver the right content to the users who need it. “Customer-facing employees need to have a platform for personal development in the palm of their hands. So it needs to be quick to launch and easy to use — one platform to learn it, practice it and apply it,” said Mike D’Angelo, an Enterprise Account Executive.
Keeping teams together is another challenge. “Sales kickoffs and other traditionally on-site events can be managed more effectively with a Sales Readiness platform, and can help with remote coaching to bridge gaps in skills. If enablement managers do not know the effectiveness of their programs, what’s the point? They are at risk. It’s critical they know this information to report back and bring teams together.”
Many businesses are facing a number of remote-training challenges right now as well, and Sales Readiness platforms can help address them virtually. “Businesses have been forced into a remote strategy without having had enough time to plan for it. In particular, they’re worried about upcoming events and how they will be handled. Their immediate reaction has been to shift to virtual meetings and lean heavily on tools like Zoom or WebEx for large conferences,” said Jordan Weinberg, enterprise solutions consultant. “But 100% virtual training has significant limitations when held via conferences. Prospects are looking for tools that can complement existing systems or completely replace the traditional conference-call structure. Driving engagement and reinforcing knowledge are top concerns, and businesses are all looking to quickly make a change.”
2) Your worst enemy is a short attention span
Relying solely on traditional offline methods like email, chat and even live conferencing services has its downsides. Those downsides center on the offline methods’ inability to capture reps’ steadily diminishing attention spans.
“Data shows that the average human attention span is 20 minutes; for online video, it shrinks to around 60 seconds. Right now, especially, it’s critical to have a ‘mindset for success’ supported by a governance model to authentically engage and connect,” said Lori Gross, a strategic innovation enablement director at MindTickle. “Of course, moderating productive discussions is difficult as the audience grows, and the ability to keep teams engaged needs to be considered. Live conferencing provides challenges for engagement and knowledge retention. Individuals often ‘tune in’ when the meeting starts and ‘tune out’ as they become distracted. In addition, instant responses and support are often missed with offline methods. Given our short attention span, it is important to think through the lens of “what have we historically believed to be the ‘rules’ of enablement and how can we ‘break’ them given this monumental shift? How do we become change agents? Like good actors, great leaders create and sell us on an alternative vision of the world – a better place of which we are an essential part. We currently see our strategic clients focus on quickly delivering high-impact use cases. We have seen programs developed and launched in two days. They create excitement. They are focused on outcomes in order to help build and drive a sustainable business. They start now with short-term wins, which gains support and engagement and they find that adoption then happens naturally.”
Olivia Surmanska, enterprise solutions consultant, also acknowledged that content often takes too long to consume and understand. “People learn at their own pace, by their own method and on their own schedule, so businesses must empower employees to take control of their learning. The remedy for this is bite-sized learning.”
Also, exclusive use of email and live conferencing services will not necessarily help with knowledge retention, as most employees will adopt a one-and-done philosophy where people will look at it or attend, and that’s the end of it. “With a Sales Readiness platform, not only will the content and knowledge be delivered, but a full strategy can be employed to ensure that information is being retained. Reports can illustrate gaps in knowledge and offer remediation where needed,” said Tony Germinario, an enterprise account executive.
3) Over-communicate, over-communicate… and then over-communicate
When it comes to communication with teammates, remote workers have many channels from which to choose. Slack emerged as a top tool, enabling fluid engagement in conversations, while allowing everyone to stay current with any issues. It’s used daily to ask questions, provide feedback, air concerns, and give insights and kudos. And, despite all the communications tools available, phone use is still prevalent.
Despite having these tools, it’s still surprisingly easy to feel disconnected. “Over-communication is key, especially when working remotely, as so many are doing right now. So, find ways to regularly engage with the team,” said Weinberg. For many teams, this includes conducting the normal activities like daily scrums, QBRs and one-on-ones, but virtually.
4) Your calendar is your new best friend
Establishing a cadence and schedule is key to thriving remotely, as it builds structure into the day. “To stay focused and on task, break the day into chunks and have a clear goal or objective for each chunk,” said Weinberg. “Included in this schedule should be time for daily tasks and breaks, complete with start and finish times. Leverage tools to help schedule weekly updates across the company.”
Veteran remote workers reinforce this idea of establishing a schedule. “As a ‘WFH’ pioneer and lover of all things related to space exploration, I’ve become familiar with astronaut Scott Kelly’s tips from his nearly yearlong space trip,” said Enterprise Account Manager Melissa McKenna. “The most relevant was to follow a schedule. We don’t have the physical cues of the workspace driving us. Quick updates consisting of relevant product, company or industry news keep us focused and on task.”
Melissa McKenna, an enterprise account executive, had this to add: “When we are living and working in the same place for days on end, work has a way of taking over everything if you let it. Create rhythms that allow for your own sanity.”
Please join me in thanking these intrepid field teams for imparting some of their insight and best practices. In addition, it’s reassuring to see how Sales Readiness tools can be a valuable asset to organizations, enabling anytime and anywhere learning that is uninterrupted by COVID-19 — or whatever else the world decides to throw at us. As for MindTickle, we’ll continue to stay the course and support our customers and prospects with what we do best: Sales Readiness to keep remote customer-facing teams trained, connected and updated to handle any customer interaction.
You can find constantly updated resources to help you keep remote teams engaged, productive and ready, check out: https://www.mindtickle.com/covid19/.