How to Successfully Manage a Remote Sales Team
April 8, 2020
Remote work is on the rise, and you need to ensure your sales team can generate results, whether they’re in the office or working from home.
There is a range of reasons why more companies are hiring remotely:
- The high cost of office space in major cities
- More people want the flexibility that remote work allows
- Tools that facilitate remote collaboration are becoming commonplace
But, remote work comes with its own challenges.
Your team won’t be meeting face-to-face.
Your processes that worked on-site won’t work remotely.
Your goals and KPIs may need to be adjusted .
If you’re considering building a remote sales team, this article is for you.
I’m going to walk you through the reasons why remote sales teams are on the rise, outline some of the critical challenges that you can expect to face, and show you how to overcome those challenges.
Let’s jump in.
Are Remote Sales Teams The Future?
Firstly, let’s define what kind of sales teams we’re talking about here.
Outside sales teams have always been mainly remote. However, inside sales teams have typically been office-based, and are the people on the phones, and sending out emails to prospective clients all day.
Lots of companies have large inside sales teams as it’s an ideal way to ensure that their lead pipeline is always full, and having everyone on-site can help with management and collaboration.
However, these sales teams could, theoretically, do everything they do at work from the comfort of their own homes—as long as they have the right tools for the job.
There may be some initial trade-offs, but the benefits could outweigh those.
For example, 72% of companies that allow remote work say that it leads to higher retention rates.
85% of companies found that allowing remote work leads to higher productivity.
There is a range of benefits, and you can take advantage of those by allowing your team to work remotely.
However, there are challenges that come with this new way of working.
Let’s take a look at those.
Primary Challenges to Managing a Remote Sales Team
Lack of Face-to-Face Communication with Clients
If your sales team works from home, they won’t be able to travel to meet clients as regularly, as those clients are likely all over the world.
However, this shouldn’t be a significant problem for most companies.
Tools like Zoom allow for easy video calls with leads, and most clients will be more than happy to engage digitally rather than in-person.
If you’re selling to enterprise clients, you’ll have to resign to the fact that extended sales cycles and high prices often require face-to-face meetings, so you should have a plan in place for this.
Employees Can Feel Left Out if you Still Have an On-Site Team
If you have team members in the office, and some of your sales team working remotely, then those who are remote are at risk of feeling left out.
Loneliness is one of the main struggles of remote work, with 19% of remote workers citing it as an issue.
To get around this, you need to think of your company as remote-first, and not a remote-second company.
That means you should have processes and systems in place as if your whole team was remote. For example, all of your official communications, memos, and company updates should be digital. You’ll inevitably talk about them in the office too, but if they’re remote
Distilling Best Practices Through the Company
When your whole team is on-site, it’s easy to call a meeting and inform people of new processes and best practices.
When your team is remote, it can get complicated. People are located in different time zones, are focused on various tasks at different times of the day, and it’s hard to communicate critical updates quickly.
I’ll outline how you can improve your knowledge transfer in a remote company below.
How to Manage a Remote Sales Team
1. Use Tools to Facilitate Remote Work
Firstly, you’re going to need to invest in tools to help your team get their work done remotely.
Here are some of our recommendations:
If having access to over 150 million business contacts sounds valuable, then DemandScience is for you.
Your team can quickly identify leads who are a great fit for your solution and get access to GDPR-ready contact data. You’ll be able to filer companies by location, company size, funding activity, technographics, and much more.
Your team will be able to cold call and email prospects without losing any productivity, whether they’re on-site, or working from home.
2. Video Conferencing
As you’ll be doing video calls instead of in-person client meetings, Zoom is going to be your best friend. You can easily set up accounts for your team, and it connects with popular scheduling tools like Calendly.
Your leads will be able to book calls with your team seamlessly, and your team won’t miss out on any opportunities that they would have otherwise.
It’ll also come in handy for your internal meetings as it can handle up to 1,000 participants at a time.
3. Automate Communication
When working remotely, it’s healthy if you keep everyone in the loop about what each individual is working on.
You can automate this using a tool like Standup Alice for Slack.
Every morning, your team can add their main goals for the days, and if there are any blockers to completing their goals successfully.
This keeps everyone up-to-date and aware of what their colleagues are working on.
2. Set Clear Expectations and Goals
Luckily, sales reps are some of the most goal-orientated people in any workplace.
Targets are there to be hit, and just like you would in the office, you’ll need to set clear goals.
When setting goals for your remote sales team, it’s essential to set goals that focus on results and not activity.
Different people have different times of the day when they’re most productive. People with young kids may pick need to leave at some points to collect them, and do their best work late at night. People without kids may focus best in morning as they don’t need to do a school run.
Set your goals, and let your team do the rest.
3. Encourage Set Hours to Reduce Burnout
Remote work can provide flexibility for your sales team to do their job when they’re at their most focused and productive.
But, it can also lead to burnout.
Encourage your sales reps to disconnect from their work at a certain time each day. If the lines between work and home are too blurred, they may end up burnt out, unproductive, and happy.
We’d recommend setting some clear boundaries. Check-in and out at the same time you would at your office, and encourage employees to close Slack and disconnect from work outside of their usual hours.
4. Create SOPs for Everything
If your team is fully remote, your face-to-face time will decrease.
As I mentioned above, this can slow down the transfer of knowledge, ideas, and best practices through your company.
Every regular activity needs to be turned into a repeatable process in the form of a SOPs, documentation, or a similar, easily accessible knowledge base.
If you don’t, your Slack or Teams channel will be continuously filled with questions that could quickly be answered in a piece of documentation.
Documentation empowers your team to work individually, solve problems, and stay focused.
5. Regular One-to-Ones
When your sales team is working remotely, it’s easy to lose track of how well individuals are performing.
We’d recommend scheduling monthly meetings with each of your sales reps.
This will ensure you’re up-to-date on their progress and can see how they’re doing against their goals. It’s also an excellent opportunity for them to provide feedback to you, or ask for advice.
It’s easy to lose track of how your team is performing and feeling when you don’t see them in person, so scheduling time in every month to catch up is an essential step to successfully managing a remote sales team.
Using DemandScience to Power Remote Sales Teams
Your remote sales team needs the right tools if you want to hit your company revenue goals.
If you want to cold call, run email campaigns, and get in touch with key decision-makers as part of a wider ABM strategy, DemandScience can help.
Our B2B database contains 150+ million business contacts to help you identify and reach out to your ideal customers with ease.
Our GDPR-ready B2B data is regularly updated and vetted for accuracy, and is the perfect way to supercharge your sales campaigns.
If you’re going to be managing a remote sales team, you need to be ready to change your management style.
Remote work is not the same as on site work.
You need new tools, strategies, and methods of engaging your employees and encouraging your team to hit their targets.
Taking steps like creating clear documentation and SOPs, ensuring employees have a way to easily communicate with each other and clients, and creating a work environment that maintains your unique company culture are key to succeeding with a remote workforce.
Taking steps like:
- Creating clear documentation and SOPs,
- Ensuring employees have a way to easily communicate with each other and clients,
- Creating a work environment that maintains your unique company culture,
…are all key to succeeding with a remote sales team.
If you want to help your remote sales team connect with decision-makers without leaving the comfort of their own home, then let’s talk…today.