Transitioning Back Into Hybrid and In-Person Work Environments
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Change often presents unforeseen challenges. This became a reality for many enablement leaders in the past year as they helped their organizations rapidly navigate the pivot to virtual work. After more than a year of virtual work environments, practitioners now face a new challenge in the year ahead: the pivot back to in-person or hybrid environments.
Moving out of the digital realm will require planning, flexibility, and collaboration. As the world begins to transition out of the digital-only workplace and into hybrid and in-person environments, it is vital to understand the best practices sales enablement can utilize to smoothen the transition for sales reps, customers, and companies at large.
The Sales Enablement Soirée, Spring Virtual Event brought together leaders across the sales enablement industry to explore and inform the best practices for supporting sales reps, guiding customers, and effectively collaborating with stakeholders to foster a more seamless transition from the virtual world into hybrid and in-person work environments. Here are key takeaways on how enablement can help organizations effectively navigate transformation at the rep, customer, and leadership levels.
Helping Sales Reps Transition
Enablement can play a crucial role in helping sales reps incorporate what they have learned over the past year and bring their virtual best practices to the in-person and hybrid world. As part of this, practitioners can focus on three primary areas:
- Intentionally design programs to accommodate both in-person and virtual formats. At the onset of the pandemic, many practitioners had to take their programs that were optimized for in-person audiences and pivot them to virtual formats overnight. Based on all of the lessons learned in the past year about what works and what doesn’t in a virtual setting, practitioners can now apply those insights to adapt tools, training, and content for both in-person and virtual teams in order to engage reps in any setting. Going forward, this means that flexibility and agility will be key in order to meet reps where they are and help them maximize performance.
“You have to be prepared for the unknown,” said Stephanie Middaugh, senior sales enablement manager at Zoom. “In a profession like enablement, we get thrown a lot of curveballs.”
- Foster a healthy sales culture and boost morale through coaching. To ensure managers are best serving their sales reps, company-wide cultures must be aligned. Enablement can help support frontline managers through training and guidance on how to coach consistently and in conjunction with the values of executive leaders. In turn, this will help managers invest in the development of their reps, which will help reps feel more motivated and connected to the organization. Establishing ground rules for what coaching looks like, consistent communication between coaches and sales reps, and investment into the mindset of the company will foster a work environment with effective sales performance.
“This is an opportunity to empower our managers to be better coaches,” said Dina Berger, senior director of sales enablement at Cision.
- Prepare teams to engage with customers through multiple formats. Going forward, many organizations have different plans for returning to in-person, remaining virtual, or adopting a hybrid approach. As such, this means customers will inevitably have different approaches, as well. Ensuring that reps are comfortable and prepared for both in-person and virtual selling is a key factor to the transition process. Similarly, it is important to remember that some reps who have been hired within the past year have only sold virtually, and will need additional support to learn in-person selling techniques.
“If our customers are going back to in-person, it is going to change the way that we sell,” said Rehmat Kharal, vice president of global sales enablemenet at BigPanda. “Which means that our sellers are obviously going to have to be in-person as well.”
Guiding Customers Through Their Journey
The second aspect to the transition is helping customers through the process. Sales enablement initiatives across organizations can aid customers by keeping in mind that both customers and sales enablement are going through the same transition processes, using empathy as a guiding principle for engagement.
“At the heart of everything, we went back to the foundation of working with other humans,” said Petek Hawkins, head of global enablement at Fivetran. “Let’s humanize the sales process, and enable in that way.”
Communication with customers is of paramount importance in the transition from virtual to in-person work platforms. Keeping customers up to date on transitional progress through clear and consistent communication throughout the customer lifecycle will prove to be fundamental in continuing mutually beneficial customer relationships.
“Every penny is under more and more scrutiny,” said Eric Stoddard, head of global sales and customer success enablement at Udemy. “How you sell and treat your customers in the good years is just as critical as how you sell and support them during the tough years.”
Collaborating with Leaders to Navigate Change
Utilizing the expertise and resources of leaders across the revenue organization to collaborate on transitional plans and process execution will foster a more concrete and comprehensive transition process.
Partnering with sales leaders to ensure that enablement has a thorough understanding of their goals will remove potential churn from the changes from virtual to in-person. In doing so, it is important to keep a customer-centric lens when striving after goals related to pipeline growth and productivity.
“It’s not about your sales process,” said Ryan Bott, global vice president of inside sales at Sodexo. “It’s about their buying experience.”
Additionally, partnering with revenue leaders can help foster and measure the concrete productivity levels of sales enablement initiatives. Sales enablement can align with revenue teams to create roadmaps for organizational success; revenue teams can balance the visions of sales enablement teams with clear, specific directions about how they will make strides toward the long-term vision. More specifically, sales enablement can support the entire revenue organization to drive success by focusing on personal growth among reps, helping managers develop business acumen and advance go-to-market initiatives, and providing open, honest, and constructive feedback to help revenue teams maximize performance.
“We need to look at whether or not the sales enablement we’re putting in place is helping improve our productivity levels,” said Mike Weir, chief revenue officer at G2.
Lastly, sales enablement can partner with marketing leaders to ensure all messaging and content leveraged in the field furthers the strategic goals of the executive leaders, and that it is optimized to deepen impact with customers in both in-person and virtual environments. Joint alignment on customer-driven messaging can greatly lessen the discomfort and miscommunication that often comes along with change.
“Partnering together allows you to better have the hard conversations,” said Amy Barzdukas, chief marketing officer at Omnitracks.
As sales enablement eagerly embarks on the transition from virtual to hybrid and in-person practices, the expertise of enablement leaders can serve as a guide to forming future best practices. Gathering the lessons from a year in the virtual realm will be vital in fostering the future of sales enablement. Collaboration, teamwork, and communication are more important than ever as customers, sales reps, executives, and cross-functional teams prepare for a new era of sales enablement.
To continue learning from the insights of keynote speakers, insightful panel discussions, and sales enablement leaders, visit the event agenda for on-demand access to the Sales Enablement Soirée, Spring Virtual Event.