In major cities around the world, you can’t turn the corner without running into a co-working office. These membership-based spaces offer all the perks of working at a sleek startup (coffee and snacks, flexible workspaces, trendy decor, etc.) without the investment in footprint.

While the first modern co-working spaces didn’t appear until the mid-’90s, one profession has always been inherently work-from-home (or hotel room or coffee shop or international office or airport): sales. It seems the rest of the professional world is catching up to what salespeople have known and practiced for decades.

The virtual office often has more positives than negatives. The co-working model is especially appealing to remote workers and freelancers, once relegated to coffee shops or the lonely confines of a home office. And co-working is experiencing massive growth. In 2018, co-working company WeWork became the largest single occupier of office space in central London at 2.5 million square feet, more than Google and Amazon combined.

Companies not open to (or lagging behind) the new era of the virtual office are in for a shock. A Gallup study on benefits and perks found 51 percent of American workers would change to a job that allows them flextime, and 35 percent would switch to a job that allows them to work off-site full-time. Those numbers jump to 60 percent and 47 percent, respectively, when only polling millennials.

The message is clear: Get on board with the virtual office or get left behind. To help ease this transition, Miller Heiman Group looked at some important lessons today’s co-workers and remote employees can glean from salespeople’s experience.

Invest in development
Even if they experience minimal in-person face time, employees still want and need opportunities for professional development and growth. Nearly half (45 percent) of millennials say a job that accelerates their professional or career development is “very important” to them. It’s a strategy that makes sense: Developing talent internally translates to employees who feel confident and respected in the workplace, whether that space is physical or digital.

But how do you know which employees need which types of coaching and development? Smart sales organizations use Miller Heiman Group’s suite of talent assessment tools to collect data on sellers’ capabilities and potential. Talent Capabilities Quotient helps identify and measure traits that directly correlate to successful performance, while SkillMap Capabilities Quotient defines and prioritizes the skills critical for sales success.

Train consistently and correctly.
Whether remote or onsite, every employee at your organization needs to be given the training tools to succeed. But each person can’t be expected to have the same learning style, and remote work doesn’t always offer the opportunity for onsite training.

Digital learning tools ensure a consistent training experience across the board, whether you’re onboarding new hires or developing existing talent. These tools consider the desires and situations of the modern worker; they may need to complete training at 8 p.m. from a hotel room or during their morning commute to a co-working space. It’s tech that’s professional, intuitive and doesn’t make remote workers feel like they’re missing something.

Have all the answers at your fingertips
Your company contains a wealth of information about customer behaviors, best practices and other insights that help employees succeed. But it’s worth nothing if data and knowledge aren’t easily accessible, well organized and shareable. For example, only one-quarter of participants in CSO Insights’ 2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study say they have high confidence in the quality of the data in their CRM system. That leaves 75 percent of employees who have at least some doubt about the tools their company provides.

Any new product or data system provided to employees should be digital-first, mobile-friendly and easily searchable. These factors were top of mind when Miller Heiman Group developed Scout, our answer to the modern CRM system. Users never have to scrounge for shared contacts or wonder if they’ll be able to access important information on their mobile devices. It just works.

Above all, an engaged employee is an employee who’s likely to stay with the company. But the Gallup poll found that just one-third of workers say they are actively engaged in their jobs. By leveraging these sales industry tips, leaders in all business sectors empower their employees with the tools and training they need to work remotely — and successfully.

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