I’ve worked in sales environments for a long time. It’s a line of work that is dynamic and ever-changing; this is one of the things that makes it so exciting. But the current circumstances are unprecedented. Cloud companies and all of their staff are having to find new approaches to doing business. This is especially true for roles like sales, where we deal with customers firsthand.

In sales, the job is to make the customer happy. They need to believe that you are someone who can help them, and make things happen, in spite of obstacles. One of the biggest current obstacles? Working remotely. This is proving a huge challenge for many leaders, companies and teams. 

But the truth is: We have been moving in this direction for years, if not decades. For many people, working must involve an office, with people working in that office. Talking to customers must involve a face-to-face interaction, a shake of the hand. But the technology we possess has been gradually changing expectations and requirements. The current lockdown environment has only supercharged this trajectory. We are all learning lessons from the shift. 

When you’re working with customers, what matters is: Can you understand who you’re talking to? Can you grasp their pain points? Can you build a human relationship and build trust? And the tools we possess now mean that we don’t have to be in the same room to do this. We can see each other’s faces, be expressive, be honest, just the way we can in person. Webcams, microphones and bandwidth are pretty incredible these days. We can actually be very close to being in the same room, even if we’re hundreds of miles apart. 

Partnering with Cloud Companies

At Opsani, we help cloud companies. We don’t just give them a service. We become their partners. Typically, these partnerships have been built in person, in a room. But myself and the rest of the team are learning that there is a great deal we can do over video call. We’ve had online lunch-and-learns or conferences that have been better attended than our average in-person version! Fact is: it’s easier to get 100 people to join a Zoom call than it is to get 100 people into a room. 

And here’s the thing: A lot of what we’ve learned about the value of virtual communication will survive beyond the acute lockdown. Think about it. We’ve learned that we don’t have to hop on a plane, walk to a room, spend on a hotel room, and everything else. Everyone can sit in the comfort of their own home, and still actively participate just as much as if they were physically there. There might be some parts of sales that always need the human element; but perhaps not as much as we previously thought. 

Furthermore, in these WFH settings, we’re learning that some people are more prepared and interactive in online meetings than they are in person. A colleague shared with me that, based on his experience, people often make less of an effort in terms of preparation when they go to physical meetings. This is either because they didn’t have enough time, or they’re holding onto the notion that, “as long as we’re in the room, it’ll happen.” 

Digital meetings are teaching us that just showing up isn’t enough. We’re all learning to give ourselves  a few extra minutes to get our notes together and mentally prepare ourselves. Between meetings, there are no cumbersome unknown variables involved with walking across a building. You can plan things down to the minute. 

In short: Modern technology is allowing large parts of our infrastructure to adapt to the challenges arising from the global pandemic. But it is doing more than this. It is offering us teachings for the future, in sales and in other departments. 

The younger generation is already ahead of us here. My 16-year old brother has a hard time wrapping his head around the concept of needing to go somewhere just to talk to someone. He “talks to the world” from his room. This flexibility and digitally native thinking is quite possibly the future of work. 

Cloud companies should even take this chance to prepare for a future where we don’t simply snap back from these new patterns. Eventually, all of this will die down and some degree of normality will return. But during this time we will learn things about work, about productivity, and about business that we won’t unlearn. 

For more, read our blog on What COVID-19 Can Teach Cloud Businesses.