Training Remote Sales Staff

PRA’s sales people generally do not have medical practice revenue experience when hired. They all work remotely out of their homes. Thus, PRA has the challenge of remote training and staff integration.

Let’s take a look at how the business need of remote training is addressed using a SharePoint list from the Sales subsite.  PRA setup a SharePoint List, screen shot below, that is organized in the order that a new sales person needs to review internal and external training materials to understand the software and service offerings of PRA.  The Task Name is the training action to be undertaken, Estimated Time provides guidance on the length of time that should be spent on that particular training task, and the Site Link provides links to internal training documents to be reviewed and studied and outside links to such sites as YouTube where there are training videos for viewing.

A new sales person downloads the training list into Excel and then changes the No to Yes as they complete each training task so they can keep track of their progress. In total there are 25 training tasks which take an estimated 3 days to complete.  At the end of each day a PRA sales manager meets via Microsoft Skype (video and voice conferencing technology available either independently or through Office 365) with the new staff persons to determine their progress and answer any questions they may have concerning the day’s training materials.

PRA finds the SharePoint list and daily review to be a highly effective training approach.  Also any sales person can access the list at any time to review areas that they may have forgotten about.

Sales Training Tasks

Small Business Example

Physician Revenue Advisors LLC (PRA) granted us permission to use them to  illustrate how one small business implemented SharePoint Services to support their customer, staff management and sales and marketing efforts.

PRA is a real firm that provides revenue cycle management to physicians.  This means they provide software and services from electronic health records through to patient and insurance company billing and collections. PRA is basically divided into two areas: marketing/sales and operations. Each with different staffs.

They are an Office 365 ProPlus user. They use Office 365 for their email, website, blog and internal SharePoint sites.  Consequently, all of their internal and external internet needs are met in the cloud through one central point. This saves them money, training, and maintenance effort since they are working with a single vendor.  They use all of Microsoft’s Office suite including Microsoft Access.  The reason I point out Microsoft Access is because it is used in their SharePoint based lead tracking application and Access is not included in some of the Office 365 offerings.

I will use screen shots to illustrate how they are using SharePoint.  You may need to use the Zoom function in your browser to better view these screen shots.

Workflows

All small businesses develop and receive internal and external documents.  Examples of internal documents include:

  • Job descriptions.
  • Performance reviews.
  • Policy statements.
  • Financial and accounting reports.
  • Sales and marketing collateral.
  • Time and Expense reports.

Examples of external documents include:

  • Customer invoices.
  • Vendor shipping documents and billings.
  • Governmental forms and filings.
  • Banking documents.
  • Proposals and Quotes.

You can set up workflows within SharePoint to match your organization’s review and approval processes. This can be as simple as either establishing an overall workflow for all documents or specific workflows by each type of document. To illustrate, if your firm requires that a proposal must be reviewed by the manager responsible for delivering the service and also by accounting, you can set up a workflow for routing the proposal to accounting and then sending it to the manger for review. The manager can view any remarks added by accounting and then add their own.  They can route the proposal back to the staff member that developed it so it can be finalized and then sent back through the process for final review and approval.  Email alters and due dates can be added to ensure timely reviews and also track its status.  You can even add a step for the customer to be sent the deliverable for their review and set a follow up date to review their comments.

Most firms can improve efficiency by implementing SharePoint workflows since time spent looking for documents and determining their status would be greatly reduced.  Also since SharePoint is web based, documents can be developed, reviewed and approved remotely, no more waiting until a particular person is in the office to get the document “out the door”.

Match SharePoint to Your Organization

The first step is to determine how SharePoint can be matched to your operations. Notice that I said matching SharePoint to your firm and not the other way around. Very often you need to change your operations to match the software.

In my blog post What is SharePoint?, I mentioned that SharePoint is an internal website. When you first sign on to SharePoint you see the main company website, as depicted below.  In our example the main website is called Professional Service Firm.  This main firm website in SharePoint terms is called the parent website.  As depicted on the left hand side of the page, the basic SharePoint website comes with:

  • Notebook which is link to Microsoft One Note where firm staff can post many types notes.
  • A Document folder where almost any type of file can posted for firm sharing.
  • Newsfeed where firm wide messages can posted for staff and if you so chose, outside visitors to see.

You can easily eliminate any of the above “web parts” or add new web parts to the page.  We will get into web parts in another post.

SharePoint allows you to set up “Subsites” underneath the main/parent site. On the Business Needs Addressed page of this blog, I list out the typical company operations.  What I suggest is that you have subsite for each operational component of your firm. In the screen shot below, I have set up subsites for Administration, Accounting, Clients & Projects, and Sales & Marketing.  The reasons for setting up SharePoint this way are:

  • Staff are not involved in all operations so they don’t need to access all information(e.g. accounting documents and data).
  • Cleaner segregation of your orgnaization’s information.
  • Easier navigation since you can go directly to operational site of interest.
  • Easier security implementation (e.g. staff is not given permission to access the accounting website).

Parent Website2

As you can see we are now working with one product that cuts across many orgainzational operations. This by itself leads to more efficiencies.

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is basically an internal web site where:

  • staff members can collaborate amongst themselves on project and internal matters.
  • develop, review and approve documents.
  • track all sorts of information needed to run your organization (examples to be posted).
  • plan and manage projects.
  • leverage past experiences.
  • eliminate redundant process and systems.

Here is the  Wikipedia definition of SharePoint for those that want a more detailed definition.

SharePoint originally came, at no charge, with Windows Server.  Since it was part of Windows Server, it required a technical staff to implement and manage the product.  With the introduction of Office 365, Microsoft offers it as a cloud product along with the other Microsoft Office applications.  It can be purchased separately but most customers purchase Office 365 so they get SharePoint with it. If you are not on the latest Office products and may like to be, click here on Office 365.  SharePoint can be purchase separately as SharePoint Online.

The Office 365/SharePoint Online version does not require any technical staff to implement or manage.  The out of box features can be easily taken advantage by staff that have a good understanding of computers (e.g. Accounting, Information Technology, Manager, Team members, etc.). Like any software product you can enhance capabilities through its more technical aspects but this is not a necessity with SharePoint.  Also, there are third party plug in products (apps in SharePoint terminology) that can enhance its capabilities without spending a lot of money.

This blog discusses the out of the box features and how your organization can make itself more efficient by using them.