The face of sales management is changing. It used to be that most sales professionals were in the field, but there's a growing contingency of inside sales professionals and organizations adopting that approach. Yet, companies will always need people in the field.
Here's one perspective why it's good business to have sales reps in the field.
The workplace is changing. Where rigid hours and strict policies once reigned, multitasking and creative time use are rampant. As we look around at the changing workscape, it's easy to see that the professional world is loosening up a bit.
Accenture's study of 4,100 professionals in 32 different countries found that the vast majority of professionals (91%) believed the most successful employees in the future will be those who readily adapt to this changing workplace.
For many industries, part of that adaptation translates to allowing full-time employees to work remotely, but what about sales, where the topic of telecommuting is still controversial?
It's no longer unheard of to work from home, and for many people--to the tune of about 3.2 million--it's already a way of life.
By one estimate, telecommuting has risen 79 percent between 2005 and 2012 and now makes up 2.6 percent of the American work force, or 3.2 million workers, according to statistics from the American Community Survey.
Contrary to what many believe, it's not all millenials and stay-at-home moms. A typical telecommuter is actually 49 years old, college educated, a salaried non-union employee in a management or professional role who earns $58,000 a year and works for a company with more than 100 employees. Many salespeople fit right into this bracket.
The sales industry is beginning to embrace the remote work lifestyle, but with trepidation. Thousands of salespeople are already working from home or on a flexible schedule, and they've proven it's a smart decision. Statistics back that up.
Here are 7 reasons salespeople should be able to work remotely.
1. Happy employees are more productive.
In the Remote Collaborative Worker Survey, 77% of teleworkers said they were more productive off-site than in the office. When salespeople are satisfied with their job, it shows in their results--and vice versa. In an industry where an employees' productivity is so contigent on their job satisfaction, and that job satisfaction increases when working from home, it only makes sense to be flexible and allow them to work remotely, whether full-time or a few times a week.
2. Frequent travelers benefit from working remotely.
When you travel a lot for work, one of the most time-consuming tasks is simply getting back to the office. So why bother doing it? Orna Albus of U.S. Bank says "Almost all of our sales team is virtual. It makes no sense to centralize them. This provides them with the work life balance they need to travel when they have to."
3. What you get done is more important than where it gets done.
Bill Meidell of RIVS doesn't let his salespeople work from home, but he's all about flexible hours. “I’ve always been in favor of flexible schedules for salespeople since sales is more about what you get done than when you do it."
Expanding on this line of thought, what you accomplish during the work day is more important than where the work was accomplished.
4. Your company will save a lot of money.
If those with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home did so just half the time, we'd save more than $700 billion a year, including:
- A typical business would save $11,000 per person, per year
- The telecommuters would save between $2,000-$7,000 a year
- The oil savings would equate to over 37% of our Persian Gulf imports
- The greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce permanently off the roads
5. Getting out of the office means you'll talk to more customers.
An unstructured work environment may strike fear into the heart of some sales managers, but Scott Mandel of Snapclass believes it provides ample opportunities for his salespeople to connect with customers in a meaningful way. There's just one exception: If you have difficulty remaining part of the team while working from home, Scott says you should go back to the office.
6. Remote workers put in more hours.
Make no mistake--working from home is no vacation! U.S. News & World Report states “Telecommuters log five to seven more hours per week than non-telecommuters, often working even when they’re sick or on vacation.”
According to the RCW survey cited above, 23% of those who work remotely are willing to purposely put in longer hours to accomplish more when they work from home. Those are some highly motivated employees!
7. You can hire the best salespeople from all over.
When you're limited to a local pool of candidates, you'll likely get a few outstanding people, a few duds, and a lot that are average.
When you expand that pool of candidates to include the rest of the nation, or even the globe, the chance that you'll come across some spectacular candidates skyrockets! With more options at your fingertips, the best salespeople worldwide are yours for the hiring.
Sales is a unique industry that relies on the salesperson's motivation remaining high. Telecommuting is a rapidly growing way to motivate salespeople (and workers from all relevant industries) to do their best work. It only makes sense to allow independent, savvy salespeople to get their work done while enjoying an improved quality of life. With statistics that show us both salespeople and the companies they work for benefiting from telecommuting, it's time to adapt to the changing workplace and get to work--from home.