Remote sales teams are becoming increasingly common due to access to larger talent pools, improved productivity, and increased cash flow. Managing a remote sales team is a dynamic task, and successful management of them requires a different approach than in-house employees. Make sure you avoid these 8 crucial mistakes as a remote sales manager so that your whole sales team crushes their quota.
1. Not Checking in Regularly
Remote sales teams need just as much attention and motivation as in-house employees. Checking in regularly with your team shows them you’re an empathetic manager and helps keep them on task. However, keep in mind the difference between micromanaging and being a resource. If you position yourself as a resource to your team, they'll see your check-ins as a helping hand rather than a demanding fist.
Here’s how to check in with your squad, so they look forward to your calls.
i) Touching Base Daily
A daily check in with your remote sales team should consist of a flow of information concerning a few definite topics. Mind you, this is a message they’ll see every day, so don’t be afraid to get creative with how you say it. The message should communicate your team’s goals, as well as offer assistance (to complete the goal), that you can implement either immediately or in the near future. That’s not all.
Good managers lead their teams, but great managers listen to their teams.
ii) Giving and Receiving Feedback
Feedback from the sales team is the most accurate, up-to-date market research you can get. It gives you a glimpse into the actual marketplace where the deal is either being won or lost. The better the feedback, the more accurately you can address any objections your team faces. And the best way to bring out feedback from people is to position yourself as a resource for them (which you already accomplished in your daily check-in).
Giving feedback, like sales, requires a personal touch. You have to know the person you’re giving feedback to so you raise the chances that they not only hear you, but that they understand you. Being receptive to feedback yourself is the best way to show your employees that you have confidence in them. It also gives them a model of how to implement change and be coachable.
If you want your employees to do what you say, do what they say. This will help you see what you're doing well and not so well, which you can use to better encourage your remote employees. Feedback will also help you to lay the groundwork for brainstorming sessions by helping to make ideas more transparent.
2. Unclear Expectations
Unclear expectations are a result of poor communication.
It is your job to make sure that your employees understand what’s expected of them. The challenges of remote sales team management increase dramatically when the team’s definition of success is different from the manager’s.
A great rule of thumb to use is to sum up every message you tell your employees into one sentence. For example, if you just had a 10-15 minute conversation on the phone with a team member, you can shoot him a quick text with a single sentence of any expectations you may have discussed after you hang up. This text serves as a concrete reminder of what this person’s objectives are.
Although remote jobs may seem to have less structure compared to in-house work, and is even true in some areas, it shouldn’t be that way when communicating expectations. When you set your expectations clearly, remote workers will be able to plan more efficiently and find the best practices to meet your expectations. These expectations must include work deadlines, goals, support plan and commitment.
3. Using the Wrong Tools
It takes extra effort to stay up to date with today’s fast-moving tech scene. If you aren’t constantly keeping an eye out for better software, you are losing money. Never get stuck in one way of doing things, and always use multiple perspectives on the same problem.
The team you give tools to are the ones actually using it. Make sure they are comfortable with them and make the connection between using this tool and making more money. Additionally, when choosing which tools to use, always consult look for customer testimonials. You’ll be glad you did.
With the right tools, getting work done by remote workers will be as seamless as their in-house counterparts. There are several apps which will improve the productivity and efficiency of remote employees. Examples include Evernote, Dropbox, Badger Maps, AceProject, and Microsoft OneNote.
4. Failing To Build a Relationship
The separation between time for work and time for everything else must be a distinction clear to your team. When you aren’t working though, building a healthy relationship with each of your team members can help you achieve so much more (professionally) with them. Simply by having them like you, they will be more receptive to your wishes in the following ways:
Feel more comfortable to tell managers about any sales challenges they are facing
Reception to coaching and motivation
Form a strong bond and loyalty to the company
Build a relationship during your check-ins or have a retreat with your team. Being able to see your remote team members face-to-face increases cooperation, communication, and will build stronger relationships.
5. Blurring the Lines Between Professional and Casual Too Much
Is it better to be feared, or loved?
At the end of the day, you are their manager and your team needs to sell! Although you should be friendly with your team to build a relationship, you run the risk of being too casual with your team and dampening your authority.
Everything could be great today but things can always slow down. Through good quarters and bad, being grateful for your team and communicating this to them in a professional way is absolutely vital. Remember remote workers have a set of duties to perform like any job and in order to maintain clarity and avoid frustration, it is best to avoid being too casual when assigning these duties. Communication is most efficient when maintaining a professional tone.
6. Failing To Involve Remote Workers in Major Decisions
Forgetting to keep any and all remote workers in “the loop” undermines any rapport you build with them. Remote sales managers must be sure not make this mistake or risk the remote staff feeling undervalued. Some of your remote workers may start holding off on submitting what could be good ideas believing that they will not be heard or considered. Even if you do not end up seriously considering all their ideas, managers must make sure to listen to suggestions carefully, letting them be heard. By listening, you increase employee intrapreneurship.
7. Trusting Online Tools Too Much
In an fastly-evolving technological landscape, many organizations have switched to cloud-based software in order to optimize work. As useful as software is, it’s not an excuse to not work as hard. It just means that you and your team get to allocate your time and efforts towards more productive activities.
Be strategic where and how you use your tools - they shouldn’t dictate how you and your team work. They should complement and enhance your ideal sales processes.
Author Bio: Antony Garlton is a journalist from Kansas, writer and tech lover. Antony presented his startup ideas at Max Polyakov’s Noosphere conference and now runs his own online courses where marketing experts can improve their communication skills. Follow Antony on Twitter.