Allego Interview: George Donovan on Managing High-Performing Virtual Teams
Technology has the potential to exponentially improve sales performance, especially now that sales and many other teams are working remotely. To dive into this topic, we sat down with George Donovan, chief revenue officer of Allego. George is a proven sales leave leader with over 20 years of experience in sales, operations, marketing and sales enablement. He’s a true sales enablement enthusiast who has a passion for systems that empower people.
Watch the complete interview.
Allego: What are the biggest opportunities and challenges you see facing sales teams today?
George: There are many opportunities and challenges specifically with remote sales teams. We need to start by talking about what we want the experience to be like for sellers during their selling journey and for customers during their buying journey.
We want customers to believe that the salesperson is adding value to the process and helping them along that journey. Typically that means a seller is knowledgeable and confident and has good information at their fingertips that they can share with the customer. Salespeople want to be reliable, knowledgeable, and agile. And of course, they want to hit their goals and make customers very happy.
But that’s hard to do, and it’s really hard to do with remote sellers. We have the problem of time, space and visibility. Most organizations use technology such as video conferencing to have sales meetings with your whole team or to have one-on-ones with a seller via video. That’s great, but what you don’t have is the ability to see your salesperson in action in customer conversations, engaging in their messaging, in their value proposition.
That leads to some exposure, because you don’t know exactly what they’re saying all the time in front of customers, you don’t know if they’re on point, and you don’t know if they’re following your sales process or methodology. You also don’t know if there were cringeworthy moments. All sales managers have had them—when your seller says something and you just cringe and wish you had a replay that let you go back 15 seconds and have a do over.
Some of the opportunities for sales teams today are that there is technology to help solve these challenges, but we tend not to leverage the field sales force as much as we should. When salespeople need something, who do they turn to? They turn to Marketing. They turn to the product team. They turn to the finance team. They go to sales training or sales enablement. They don’t often go to each other as much as they could. Now that’s changing through the use of technology.
Pro Tip: Leverage the subject matter experts in your field sales organization to help solve your sellers’ challenges. Use technology to record and share those key takeaways with the rest of your team.
Allego: How can technology assist in addressing these challenges?
George: There’s lots of great technology out there today. You want to be able to see your people in action and you want some sort of coaching or role playing technology so you can ask your sellers to stand and deliver your value proposition or show how they would handle an objection or a question. There are three main ways technology can support your business.
1. The first way technology can assist is when you can’t be live with a seller in front of a customer or prospect. You want to see them on video when you’re remote. You can ask them to practice their presentation, send it to you and send them feedback on the video when you have time. They can collect that feedback and come back with clarifying questions. Then they can practice, and through a few iterations they get better and better by having this feedback loop.
2. A second way technology can help is recording sales calls for coaching and training purposes. If you can’t be with your sellers all the time, you can listen to some of their calls or watch their demos. You’ll be able to give them practical advice on points in time during a sales call or a demonstration for how to improve. We found that that’s incredibly valuable for salespeople to make quantum leaps in their production and their skills and knowledge.
3. The third way is when you can’t take sellers out of the field for a regional meeting or training session. You have to use technology to train. There are platforms such as Allego and others where you can help sellers learn in the flow of work. This is when you provide content on a regular basis so that they’re learning during their day-to-day interactions.
Pro Tip: Don’t think of training as a point-in-time event. Support sellers “in the flow of work” with information that’s available on demand. Use technology to train in a better and more efficient way.
Allego: What types of content can help sales leaders be successful when collaborating with remote teams?
George: Today, sellers are bombarded with content. Sales leaders and sales enablement managers need to realize that learning is happening with or without you, so you better make sure that you have your mindshare with your team. If you’re trying to implement a certain sales methodology but your salesperson’s getting dripped on by a third-party, that could be confusing.
Agile content, learning and collaboration is all about getting best practices from subject matter experts or from the field and sharing them throughout the entire team. One example is capturing a salesperson who’s really good at white boarding for customers or telling stories on video and sharing that with the rest of the team.
Encourage your sales team to share market conditions, competitive information, and win stories. The minute they win a new piece of business, they should be sharing that out with the rest of the team: How did they do it? What was the value your company provided? What was the competition they faced? How did you help the customer? Those key points are essential for other sellers—particularly the newer sellers in your organization—to have and to understand so they can be successful.
There’s also content that sales leaders should be sharing on a regular basis. Record things like sales updates—how is the team doing against their numbers right now? Did somebody just win something? A customer success story? Personal recognition? Equally as important are non-business updates … engagements, births, new homes, vacations. That should be shared out as a way to connect your team and keep them knowledgeable about what’s going on in the business.
Pro Tip: Don’t use email or Slack to share complex content. Use pre-recorded video to help tell the story, connect your team, and keep sellers up to date. Build a sales culture in which you’re collaborating—not only on how to get business and make customers happy—but also sharing your team’s personal highlights.
For more great advice about virtual selling, listen to the complete interview here: Allego Leadership Interview Series: George Donovan, CRO, Allego