Reduced overhead cost. Better flexibility. Larger talent pools. When your remote sales team can sell from anywhere at any time you’ll hit your numbers like never before.
But managing a remote sales team is not without its share of challenges.
When your sales team is spread across the country—the world—suddenly you’re not just managing performance strategy. Now you’re responsible for staying on top of time zone differences and communication logistics—all while keeping your remote sales team motivated and engaged.
But if you address a few key areas, your role can become less about managing sales teams across different regions and more focused on the actual sales.
Build a Foundation
While the benefits of remote working cannot be over-emphasized, it's also important that sales leaders have good systems and processes in place to track sales productivity. It can be difficult enough trying to engage sales professionals who are physically present in the workplace.
Let’s explore three areas to address for optimal remote sales team engagement.
1. Align Your Team
- Hire the Right People: When rouding up your sales team, there’s no shortage of personalities to choose from. Look for people who excel at organization and time-management skills. Find those who are self-determined and self-motivated rockstars. With just a little direction and guidance, a strong remote sales team will minimize distractions and ensure that the hours put in are focused on work-related items, rather than getting side-tracked.
- Trust—It Goes Both Ways: It’s important to hire those you’re able to trust and to demonstrate that trust in them to take care of whatever task is on hand—all while maintaining efficiency. Disciplined autonomy offers a balance so sales people aren’t doing whatever they want—they also have some structure. No one likes to micro-manage, just like no one wants to be micro-managed.
- Strong Communication Skills: Communication is one of the most important aspects of working remotely. Your sales team ought to be able to communicate effectively and frequently regardless of whether that means face to face, over the phone, via email or any other method.
Suggested: Read more about the ways to build remote workforce engagement with 5 Remote Employee Engagement Secrets That Work.
2. Use Available Technology
- Chat/Messenger: Build a sense of community on the team when they don’t have a real watercooler to chat around. Salesforce Chatter, Quip, Google Hangouts, Jabber and other social intranets provide a way to “bump into one another” and share funny links you found.
- Video Calls: The next best thing to being there. With Skype, Facetime and Google Hangouts, it’s easy to connect with your sales team outside the office. Plus, video calls provide visual clues to context and helps defend against miscommunications and misunderstandings.
- Project Management Tools: Sharing information with team members has been made easier. Management tools offer great workspaces where you can collaborate with a remote team, organize files, tasks and plan your projects.
3. Get Together When Possible
- Encourage Collaboration: Solid collaboration leads to higher productivity, which in turn leads to better companies. Emphasize openness, adaptability and a non-hierarchical approach. Archaic, rigid structures and bureaucracy stifle innovation, while flexibility and communication are essential for effective collaboration.
- Routine Office Visits: Don’t be a stranger. Keep in regular touch with your sales team and make sure everyone is on the same page. At minimum, try to bring everyone together in person at least once a year. The perfect way to do that? With a strategic sales meeting that educates your team about the newest industry trends and inspires them to meet and exceed their goals. See how we nearly tripled sales team engagement with our annual sales conference.
- Be Available: Managing successfully is still all about individual people. No matter how far apart your team is, make time to get to know everyone, and include time for casual conversations to encourage people to interact. Managers need to foster relationships that show they’re invested in their team’s well-being—not just their results.
Related: Rather than hosting an online event whenever you want to communicate with your sales team, there’s a strong business value in bringing everyone together in-person. Check out these key ways face-to-face events are the better value for your spend.
Simplicity Goes a Long Way
Keeping a remote team engaged and motivated doesn’t have to be complicated. Talk with them. Listen. Ask them if they’re happy. See what they may need to make them so. Sometimes it’s as simple as some additional sales training, or upgraded hardware to help your sales team perform better.
Effective regional or divisional sales managers must recognize the challenges that come with managing a remote team, and actively work to foster an environment of inclusiveness throughout the entire company. Do this well, and you’ll be well on the way to closing more deals with an engaged, empowered and effective remote sales team.
Take your entire sales force—in the office and on the road—even further with an incentive program. Not only can a sales incentive program motivate your sales reps and help you to make more sales, but it can also increase loyalty, reduce turnover and give you an edge in hiring. Discover the ways we can take your sales team further with a sales incentive program from ITA Group.
With a 25-year background in technology and sales management, Rob brings real-world performance improvement solutions to hundreds of large companies. As Vice President of Sales and Marketing at ITA Group, he prides himself by staying on the front lines of performance improvement technology and innovation.