Managing a remote sales team can be a challenging prospect. You’re not just managing the performance of your sales personnel, but also communication logistics, time zones, motivation, engagement and finally objectives – all this sometimes when you don’t see your team face-to-face for a long time.
However, the task to managing them effectively is about concentrating your efforts in delivering good leadership skills in some core areas. Here are some tips to help you out.
If there is one thing that is going to be the cornerstone to a successful team, it is prioritizing strong, clear communications. When you communicate effectively, everything else improves. Your sales team knows what is expected of them, they stay better informed and are engaged in their work. Engaged workers are more likely to improve performance.
To help you set up communication routines such as Friday morning check-ins or regular email updates. There is no right way to perform this, it depends on you and your organization’s culture. One Sales VP in a study by Yael Zofi found that having an end-of-day conference call with his sales team helped improve performance. Others think it needs to be held only once a week.
Whatever you find best, ensure you have regular time slot for it.
Set Clear Expectations
If you want your sales team to meet certain targets, promote certain expectations, then you need to give them a clear indication of what is expected of them. When they know that they have to generate five sales that month, they will set out to do it. When they know that they have to speak to an important client by the end of the day, they will go out there and make an effort.
This may seem like a really obvious point, but studies by Gallup have found that employees don’t know what is expected of them. Without expectations, they won’t know how to focus their efforts and this can waste precious time for your business and them.
Technology has made communicating and passing on information much easier. If you have information you need to pass on, but know that sales team members might not be active at that moment, it might be as easy as uploading the information to a private Facebook Group, Dropbox or Google Drive. We developed the Tubular specifically to battle this, it’s a great feature for centralising communication through your team.
This information can then be accessed later by the relevant members of your team. You can also use systems like MailChimp to monitor who has opened your marketing emails and when. Therefore, giving you a clearer picture of who is engaged with their work.
Have Healthy Team Habits
The sales environment is not for the faint-of-heart. That is why it is important to prioritise healthy team habits. This includes flexible vacation policies, allowing the individuals in your sales team to decide when they need to take a break and relax. Many businesses have found that unlimited vacation time has actually improved performance and output with many employees taking less time off than they did before, but feeling less stressed at work.
You should also have a regular group meeting, like once a quarter, where you and the rest of sales team have a celebration. This helps to build bonds between different members of the sales team, who often won’t see each other for significant lengths of time and gives everyone a chance to swap ideas and findings from the field.
Build A Trusting Team
If you want a successful team, you need to build trust between you and them. Everyone in the team also needs to trust their co-workers. There are several elements that trust needs to be built around. For instance, you need to ensure that you can trust your sales reps to work remotely. You should also know that they are portraying the company in the most positive light.
Team members need to know that others won’t steal leads and sales and that there isn’t any other bad mouthing within the team.
Research has shown that when teams aren’t built on trust, then peer-support is minimal. This can be harmful to the company as the best way to improve pitches and generate sales, is by everyone connecting to share experiences and ideas on how the products and services can be better sold.
Once you’ve started to manage your remote sales team more effectively, with better communication, technology, trust and goals – you’ll find that the leadership challenges aren’t that big. Then you’ll see the results in the growth of your business.
Do you manage a remote sales team? What is your biggest challenge?
Let us know in the comments below.