When done right, sales and marketing automation can put your business on autopilot. And you may think everything’s going great until it happens… Personal time off.
We all want to promote a happy work environment and encouraging employees to take vacations is a crucial part of that. But there’s no two ways about it, having one of your key sales reps gone can represent a risk for the business’ performance while they’re away.
And the fear goes both ways. As much as you, the owner, may be apprehensive about the week or two without them, the employee may also find it difficult to disconnect. They may keep their work phone by their side when they should be lounging by the pool or spending time with their family.
The importance of rest
According to a recent report, over half of Americans don’t use all their time off and a similar percentage claim to work during their vacations. But the statistics also indicate that this is a worrying trend. In general, employees who experience higher stress levels at work are more likely to not take time off and will ultimately need a mental health day. Worst of all, the feelings of shame surrounding personal leave means 1 in 5 employees mislead their managers as to why they’re taking time off.
The role of automation
You may be thinking, what has automation got to do with all this? Well, quite a lot, actually. If you have a good system in place, you can minimize the disruption that takes place when an employee is on leave and ensure everything ticks over until they return.
The key is preparation.
The run up
A few weeks before your rep goes on vacation, make sure that they process every deal in their pipeline. Any action a lead takes while the rep is away is out of their control. So, it’s important to make sure that everything is in place so someone else can take over in their absence.
Beyond recording all the necessary information on the CRM, they should take the opportunity to reach out to more bottom-funnel leads to let them know they’ll be away. For more top of the funnel ones, it can be a fantastic opportunity to schedule meetings for when they’re back from vacation.
Another great way to prepare is to begin collaboration before they leave. If you know which sales rep is going to cover while the other is on vacation, why wait until they’re gone? This way, the leads will have a new point of contact during the time off.
If you’ve been using your automation software properly, there’s no reason your sales rep needs to be present to continue pushing leads down the pipeline.
Any repetitive tasks, including creating deals, sending contracts and other kinds of administration, can continue taking place while they’re away. For example, your rep can easily continue with any nurture campaigns, warming up qualified leads for when they get back.
Likewise, any attempts to contact the employee can be rerouted to another sales representative, seamlessly transferring the deal ownership. And with the smart calendar feature, the lead can choose a time to meet with the sales rep after they come back.
This is the part where it often goes wrong. Many companies remember to plan for when the employee leaves and while they’re away. But you also need to plan for when they come back.
Just because you have your whole team together does not mean that it’s business as usual. Since your sales rep didn’t have their phone on them, they are ignorant of everything that happened while they were away. When handing responsibilities back to them, you need to be careful that nothing falls through the cracks.
Think about the number of emails, SMS messages and other communications that are waiting for them. Now, with automation it’s already much better than it would be as they have everything there on a single dashboard. But, even so, you need to effectively onboard the employee back onto the team.
The first day should be only to catch up on emails, check in with other sales reps, and see what’s happened on the CRM. Once they’re confident they know what’s going on, it’s time to begin checking in with different leads, checking what deals need action, etc.
Next, they should focus on the prospects that are most likely to convert. Prioritization is key—so keep an eye on the most time sensitive.
Some vacation best practices
Plan for the big picture
Beyond planning for individuals leaving, it’s good to think about the concept of PTO in general. For example, what if two key sales reps want to take time off at the same time?
If this happens around the holidays, this could be no problem at all. But if it’s during your business’ peak season, that may be an issue. With the analytics capabilities of your CRM, you should be well aware of when you are most busy and when you often have lulls.
At the start of any calendar year, you should inform your staff when these times of the year are and encourage them to book their vacations as early as possible. Having a first-come-first-served policy for the busy times of the year will help you plan and also anticipate any schedule issues with enough time to find solutions.
Think about the quotas
Imagine a sales representative takes a two-week vacation. Are they expected to meet the same quotas in two weeks as they normally would in a month?
By explicitly making sure they understand their responsibilities during time off, you can reduce stress and help them to disconnect.
You should definitely want your employees to have the rest they deserve. But that doesn’t mean it will always be possible exactly when they want it. In certain situations, like too many asking for time off at the same time, it may not be possible to allow them.
The key is to avoid this situation as much as possible through clear communication and good planning. Let them know they need to give at least two weeks notice to guarantee the time off. Let them know the times of the year that are busy. Let them know exactly what your policies are, so if they break them, you are within your rights to refuse.
Taking time off can be a challenge for everyone, but the rewards in terms of happiness, productivity, and sales are real. Through good planning, communication and help from an all-in-one CRM platform, your employees can feel confident taking time off without the added feelings of guilt or stress.
Want to find out more? Reach out to us today and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!