Whether managing a remote sales team is something you’ve been doing for a while or it’s part of your new business normal in 2020, there are several ways to ensure you are doing so effectively. Some tips don’t change in general from an on-site to a remote team, but the way in which you do them may change significantly. There’s no denying it, video chats are now the new “face-to-face” and the business world seems to be adapting to it nicely.
Forbes suggests that working from home may be part of the new normal more permanently than expected. If there is truth to that statement, managing remote sales teams will become the norm from now and into the future.
For sales teams, managing them may not be the only challenge when working remotely. For many sales representatives, not being able to be with potential customers in-person is a whole other challenge. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to manage your sales team and to help them do their jobs 100% remotely, when necessary.
11 Ways to Manage Remote Sales Teams More Effectively
Managing remote sales teams has some unique characteristics that you may not encounter with other teams. For instance, sales reps tend to be more extroverted and motivated by competing with fellow coworkers. With everyone in the same building, it’s much easier to encourage connection and healthy competition. In a geographically dispersed setting, things change. Let’s take a look at some ways to appease everyone and manage your remote sales team more efficiently.
- Re-evaluate Your Sales Team Structure
Perhaps you’ve been using a particular structure for the last decade and it has worked wonders for you and your team. But, perhaps without having hands-on interaction with your team, a different structure may now be better for you. For instance, maybe you’ve traditionally used an Assembly Line type of structure with your on-site team allowing each rep to have their own function among the team. However, moving to a remote team, they are no longer able to yell across the room to get information from a fellow salesperson with more expertise on any matter. This is where going to an Island structure may benefit you more as you go remote. It will increase their need to work independently, plus add a bit of competition for those who are motivated by it.
- Trust Your Team
Some trust can be inherent if you’ve hired the right people. If not, perhaps it’s time to hire new sales reps. However, before going to that extreme, there are certain things you can do that will build trust between you and your team members. First, set SMART goals for them and know that as long s they are reaching them, they are doing their job. Creating and maintaining all of your sales goals and customer sales information in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool will be the best way to do so. Another way to build trust is to lead by example. If you are trustworthy and willing to trust others, they will be more likely to follow. You can also implement a time tracking tool that would allow your sales team to have much more autonomy while you have the peace of mind that they are working hard at reaching their goals.
- Define Sales Processes…But Be Flexible
Having well-defined and strategic sales processes for your team to follow will give everyone a formula to reach their goals. However, encourage your sales reps to experiment with different ways to do things that may work better for them. Using effective CRM software would also allow you to automate some of your processes, making it easier for you and your team. More robust CRM software solutions will allow you to track and manage much of what your sales team does and makes it accessible throughout the team and other departments within the organization.
- Communicate Goals
As with many parts of management in business, communication is key with your remote sales teams. Make sure you communicate all information to your team members in a timely manner. Just as importantly, make sure you consistently communicate your company’s purpose and goals, your team’s goals, and each individual team member’s goals so everyone stays on the same page and working toward the same objectives.
- Provide Your Team With the Right Tools
Providing the right tools to your team for documentation, communication, and productivity is extremely important to manage a remote team effectively. Consider implementing tools such as those listed below or an entire suite that can provide all of your workplace productivity software together. Sample tools for your team include:
- Cloud-based CRM
- Company messenger
- Video conferencing
- Virtual PBX services
- Digital signature tools
- Sales and marketing automation
- Time and location tracking software
- Build Healthy Team Relationships
Some of the rapport that you have with your team may be difficult to build or maintain when you’re all working remotely. Find ways to socialize virtually or after hours in order to build healthy relationships between you and your team. This can be as easy as holding ice breaker activities before team meetings or encouraging friendly non-work related competitions based on community service or wellness activities.
- Determine and Track Metrics
Use one of the tools mentioned previously to build a team performance dashboard to let everyone know how they are doing. A dashboard can encourage some of the competition between members, if appropriate, and keep everyone accountable for their own tasks and goals. Keeping a visual dashboard of all of the team’s metrics will help you keep track of their progress and help them stay on track, no matter where they are.
- Provide Regular Feedback
Another piece that may go missing when not on-site with your sales team is the feedback you tend to provide when you are together. Be sure to make a point of providing regular feedback to each team member and the team as a whole. Feedback can come in the form of kudos and rewards for a job well-done as well as words of encouragement and advice when numbers are down. This will need to be done via video conference, chat, email, phone, or some other form and will need to be initiated on a regular basis in order to fill the void left by not sharing an office.
- Motivate and Reward
On top of the feedback you should be giving, motivate your staff with attainable sales goals, and reward them when reached. As the saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey. Use a reward system more than you do a punitive system so your employees are motivated more often than they are unmotivated. Since the work accomplished by sales teams is so measurable, it can be very easy to set and track attainable goals or your team as a motivator.
- Celebrate Events and Milestones
Other regular office activities that may go by the wayside are the celebrations of events and milestones such as work anniversaries or employee birthdays. Find fun and entertaining ways to fulfill this office activity so your team members don’t feel like they are losing out on anything by being remote. This can be something as simple as setting a meeting with everyone and holding a quick surprise birthday celebration via video conference. Perhaps all members that are in on it can wear fun hats or have balloons in their workspace. These types of events will be noticed and welcomed by your sales team.
- Provide Continued Sales Training for Improvement and Advancement
With all of the tools at your disposal, working on some continued training for your team will go a long way. Set up webinars, video conferencing, phone conferencing, or other means for your team to gain valuable sales knowledge to either improve or advance their careers. These training sessions will benefit everyone and will be easier to accomplish with all of the software you have already implemented. Upwork suggests finding learning and development platforms that are designed for remote teams instead of those that are meant for on-site teams, but capable of working for virtual teams.
The Harvard Business Review states that teams that move to remote work can either do the bare minimum to get by or they can adapt and thrive. Using the tips above can help your sales team thrive in a remote working situation so you don’t just have to do whatever it takes to get by when faced with working entirely separated from your team. That can make the difference between your organization and your competitors.
Agile CRM can help you work with your remote sales team members easily and allow you to have consistent communication with them without missing a beat. It’s an all-in-one CRM that can help you automate your sales and marketing, enabling consistent messaging across the board. Since it’s completely cloud-based, your team can access it from anywhere, making it ideal for remote teams. Plus, as part of the 500apps Infinity Suite of productivity apps, you’ll be able to pick from numerous different apps to help with all of your team’s needs.
No matter which solution you choose, making sure your team remains engaged and you are able to communicate the goals, progress, wins, and losses, you’ll be better off than the competition. Finding the solution that works best for you will increase your chances of success as a remote team now and in the future.