Let’s face it. Managing a remote sales team isn’t easy.
Every manager wants their team to crush their quotas, but with a remote sales team scattered around the country or even the globe, this at times can prove challenging.
Communication isn’t that simple, and misunderstandings can be quite common. When problems arise, you can’t just walk across the hall to resolve them face-to-face. Collaboration can also suffer as if team members don’t trust each other, they will never be able to reach their maximum potential and elevate their team to reach new heights.
What’s more? Working from home can lead to feelings of isolation and detachment from the team, which can have detrimental effects on motivation - an essential ingredient in sales success.
By proactively addressing these challenges, remote sales teams can overcome obstacles and thrive in their work environment.
So with work-from-home sales jobs becoming more and more commonplace, how can you deliver stellar results with your remote sales team? Let’s take a look at the five most effective strategies for managing a remote sales team!
5 Effective Strategies for Managing a Remote Sales Team
“Processes are by far the most important thing you can possibly implement when managing a remote sales team,” says Liam Martin, founder & CEO, Time Doctor – a company with a 100% remote team of 80+ people distributed across 4 continents.
Good processes provide the structure and direction for getting work done, especially when virtual sales teams are spread across time zones.
“Procedures on lead generation, how to do a demo, negotiation, closing a deal, and customer success are all critical to systematize and digitize to make a remote sales team successful,” adds Martin.
But how do you get your salespeople to actually follow these processes?
Don’t just keep your process docs in a shared folder and expect people to read and implement them. Instead, define them in terms of tasks.
Use a powerful project management tool that has features enabling you to easily map your processes as project templates and recurring tasks. You can have templates for processes such as sending a cold email, creating a proposal, presenting a demo, and so on.
When all these recurring activities are visible in your project management tool, it saves you the pain of micromanaging your team to check if they are following processes.
Another process that can make remote sales management easier is to set up an accountability routine. Once a week, all team members can post an update on what targets they have already met, and what leads they are going to be following up on next week.
This can help team members greatly in syncing up on shared sales targets. Having this accountability amongst your team ensures targets are not only met, they are met on time.
To become one of the best remote sales companies, sales managers need to keep track of their remote sales representative’s workload. This is especially important in a remote sales team where you can’t see what your salespeople are working on. You will not have the opportunity to coach your people as regularly or effectively as in a physical office. So it’s vital to use the right technology that makes remote sales management successful.
One remote sales tool that can help you manage your team is Badger Maps.
“Badger Maps contributed heavily to our bottom line. Reps consistently met our goal of 10 meetings a day, 50 per week. That wouldn’t have been possible without Badger Maps.”
Arizona Director of Business Development
With the Badger Maps Team feature, you and your remote sales reps can stay connected at all times. You can check your team’s activity in real-time, the status of their current accounts, and be able to allocate tasks to team members as they come up.
Using the Team feature on Badger Maps is also a powerful way of visualizing your entire organization’s accounts, giving you a clear view of what your team should be targeting strategically.
Badger Maps can also integrate with your CRM, which is vital for a remote sales team working with customers they have never met in person.
With Badger Maps, sales teams on average sell 25% more!
Trust is built up in a team over time. When you are not spending eight hours a day in the same physical office, it naturally takes longer.
In nearly every sales team, individual accomplishments on specific deals might be given more recognition, than the teamwork that went into it. This can lead to internal conflicts, unhealthy competition, and mistrust, not healthy for any sales team looking to achieve their monthly targets.
In your job as a virtual sales manager, this can cause serious setbacks as remote sales reps spend less time together than their in-person counterparts.
Strike the right balance between recognizing individual achievements and emphasizing the collaborative nature of the sales process. Regularly seek feedback from your team, clarify roles and responsibilities, and encourage a supportive environment where everyone feels comfortable asking for help and offering assistance.
Utilize video calls through platforms like Skype or Slack to facilitate face-to-face conversations, rather than relying solely on email or chat exchanges. By making communication a priority and creating opportunities for personal interaction, you can strengthen bonds and minimize communication roadblocks.
In a remote sales team, maintaining employee engagement is crucial for productivity and overall happiness. Without traditional in-office interactions, remote teams can often feel lonely and isolated. In a 2022 study on world employee engagement rates, only 31% of US employees said they felt engaged in the workplace.
The same study found that engagement has 3.8x as much influence on employee stress as work location. It’s clear to see that whether they are remote or in-person, engagement matters a lot to employees.
In a remote setting, it’s easy for engagement to slip. That’s why it’s vital for you to take proactive steps to motivate people and mitigate factors that frustrate your remote sales employees.
One approach is to organize optional team events in the virtual sales office. These events provide an opportunity for your team members to connect and socialize in a more relaxed setting. Consider hosting monthly town hall meetings where you can gather everyone together to discuss company updates and formally introduce new team members. This helps create a sense of unity and keeps everyone informed about the organization's progress. You can also let your sales team get to know each other better with fun team bonding activities.
In addition to organized events, encourage informal conversations among team members outside of work-related topics. Create various channels in your messaging tool of choice where employees can discuss their hobbies, random thoughts, current playlists, and more.
Remember, employee engagement is directly linked to productivity, and engaged employees can be up to 10 times more productive than disengaged ones. By promoting employee engagement in your remote sales team, you not only foster a positive work environment but also drive your bottom line.
In a remote team where effective communication is vital, misunderstandings can easily arise regarding responsibilities and tasks. When expectations are unclear, tasks may slip through the cracks, leading to inefficiencies and missed opportunities.
That's why it's crucial not only to communicate expectations to the entire team but also to set clear expectations with each individual sales employee in your remote team.
Expectations should encompass both sales targets and sales processes. Take the time to schedule video calls with each remote team member to discuss essential ground rules, such as lead generation strategies, approaches to cold calling, and effective follow-up techniques. This ensures that every team member understands the overall goals, priorities, and targets of the group.
And here's an important reminder: Encourage your team members to reach out to you whenever needed, fostering open lines of communication.
In addition to sales quota goals, remote sales teams should set goals that specifically target the sales activities that lead to closed deals. This approach helps them get closer to meeting their quotas. To do this, analyze your sales process in reverse.
Figure out the number of closed deals each team member needs to reach their quota, the rate at which meetings turn into closed deals, and the number of cold calls required to book a meeting. Use this information to establish clear goals for the number of cold calls each team member should make per day or week.
To track and encourage these key activities, consider implementing a sales leaderboard that showcases reps' progress. This fosters healthy competition and motivates team members to complete essential sales activities.
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A remote sales team gives you the advantage of building a sales presence in different cities. And if you do a few things right and use some remote-selling best practices, it’s not too hard to manage it.
Implement the right processes and utilize project management tools to ensure tasks are being carried out in the most efficient way possible. Manage sales activities to provide visibility into your sales reps' work processes. Build trust in the remote workplace to foster a collaborative environment.
Promotingemployee engagement through team events, informal conversations, and fun activities can help combat feelings of isolation and boost productivity. Lastly, setting clear expectations through open communication and establishing specific goals and targets ensures that everyone is aligned and accountable.
By implementing these remote sales strategies, remote sales teams can optimize their performance, drive sales success, and create a positive and cohesive work environment.
About the author:
Peter Banerjea is Co-Founder of SuccessIsWhat, a leadership blog for startups and small businesses. He was previously the founder of a leadership and sales training firm. His work has appeared in Huffington Post, Fast Company, Inc, Lifehacker, Sumo, Problogger and several other top blogs.