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Sales Management Tip: To Improve Sales Performance, Watch Sales Engagement Levels

Many sales organizations rely on distributed workforces so they can have sales people close to all their prospective buyers. There are plenty of benefits to this approach, but there are also risks. For sales managers looking for ways to improve performance, here is some information to consider. Two different studies looking at telecommuting found the same conclusion: remote employees are at a substantially higher risk of disengagement.

Gallup and Enkata both looked at employee engagement levels for in-office and remote workers. What Gallup found was that people who work remotely full time were twice as likely to be actively disengaged: 23% of telecommuters were in this category, compared to only 12% of office based workers. (reference article)

This result ties exactly to what Enkata found when we studied productivity data. Enkata looked at workers who were away from their computer for more than 25% of the time that they reported themselves as working at their desk. We considered these people as “actively disengaged.” What Enkata found was that 17.4 % of telecommuters fell into this category, compared to only 9% of office based workers.

Other Enkata research has found that managers have a big impact on engagement levels. Within a given company, teams with good managers will show higher engagement and higher productivity. Managers can absolutely improve engagement and benefit from the resulting sales improvement. Sales managers with remote workers should pay attention to engagement levels on their team because it can take months for low engagement to show up as a sales performance problem. By then, though, it’s really too late to turn things around.

Flagging engagement can be very difficult to spot, as it’s easy to go through the motions of sales. Managers who manage by watching activity reports and dashboards are unlikely to spot or correct flagging engagement, but it may be one of those important things they can do to hit their number. Key things to look for include how well sales people are covering the accounts in their territory, how responsive they are on opportunities, and what their activity levels are. Another critical thing to watch is how engaged the prospects are with your sales people. Are prospects returning calls and emails? Are they showing up to meetings or rescheduling them?

Sales managers who ignore engagement are taking a tremendous risk. The Gallup data indicates that up to a quarter of remote workers may need more interactions and encouragement. The Enkata data shows that disengaged workers really won’t be doing the things they need to in order to close business and hit their number.

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