How to Manage a Sales Team Remotely
The gradual shift to remote sales team just got an instant boost with the rapid spread of the coronavirus, as most businesses are shifting their activities to the digital medium.
Earlier, 52.8% of sales professionals in the US engaged in face-to-face sales, which is now gradually decreasing especially since COVID. Now that this pandemic has forced us behind the doors of our comfy homes, most professionals are now implementing WFH principles.
In this phase of financial crisis for almost every firm, you don’t want your sales to go down; instead you want it to shoot up, in spite of the changes in the behaviour patterns of consumers. And while we still wait for the light at the end of the tunnel, you need to make a shift to remote selling.
This immediate change can be extremely overwhelming especially for the teams that always operated on field or at office. But, don’t worry. This think piece will tell you everything that you need to know about managing a remote sales team. Keep reading!
Advantages of a remote sales team
1. Reduced costs
The very first advantage of a remote sales team is the cut in the spending. You no longer need to spend on the rent for your office, the equipment, the refreshments, the training, and all the other things on the list of a physical office. The saved budget can be invested into advanced tools and technology for managing your remote sales team.
2. Increased Efficiency
Undoubtedly this is because your sales reps are now going to be communicating from the comfort of their home instead of a straight-back office chair. The cuts on waiting and travelling time will clear your cluttered calendar increasing the work efficiency of the team.
3. Global Selling
Your team can now spread its wings over all the corners of the world with just a reliable internet connection. The right communication tools will boost the effectiveness of their pitch and put you in front of the world as a leading organization.
4. Motivated sales team
Remote working provides sales reps with a number of tools and processes that they are free to implement in their own way and they will feel motivated to get better results. Having a flexible schedule which for 40% of people is the best advantage of WFH setting can help your team improve focus and produce better results.
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How to manage a sales team from where you are?
1. Set clear expectations and seek advice & recommendations from your team
Salespeople work on the ideology of reaching a specific quota every quarter, hence when they have a set target, they know what standard to maintain. If you are working with a remote sales team, it is best to set your expectations with each of your employees. Not only does it increase the engagement with the employee, but also portrays the accountability of the salesperson.
When you are setting forth the goals along with daily, monthly sales targets, encourage them to achieve a better performance. Take one-on-one calls with your reps and orient them with the processes of finding leads, cold calling and converting them. Train them to use their resources efficiently while dealing with a client. As a bonus, this increases the engagement between the employee and you!
2. Invest in right and advanced technology to make remote operations easy
Technology is the most important asset of your business when your team is spread across the globe. Yet, so undervalued. As a sales manager, you should invest in the right kinds of tools that will help your team communicate effectively and collaborate easily.
Make use of a cloud-based software like Google or DropBox, where data and documents can be uploaded and accessed by everyone in the team. This makes access amidst the team simpler and faster.
Ensure that reliable CRM software is in place for your reps to update leads and their progress; it increases lead conversion rates by 300 percent while boosting purchase value by 40 percent.
3. Empower each member of your team with accountability & trust
Now that you are not in the vicinity of an office floor and cannot see your employees lend a helping hand with files, grab an extra cup of coffee or even bond over lunch, to build a relationship with your employees.
Pay attention to what your team needs. Plan regular calls or interactions where you can catch up with them, learn about their needs and help them in every way you can. Organise team activities for your reps to communicate with each other as well, and reward them for good work.
When sales professionals are inclined towards goals as a team, they tend to perform better than when they’re inclined to personal goals. As your team builds up on the emotion, you can build up on the engagement.
4. Communicate effectively and collaborate efficiently to ensure seamless flow
Communication is the key to success; at least in cases of remote sales teams. When you have a group that works together for a common goal, and they’re in various parts of the world, communication can become a major hindrance in your success.
Since you are not communicating face-to-face, there can be certain misinterpretation of your message, which coupled with lack of emotions, can cause loneliness and anxiety among your team members.
19% of remote employees already report loneliness as their biggest challenge. This, in turn, affects their ability to work effectively. Rerouting your communication channels into immediate response-oriented tools can help you manage your team better, and make communication more effective.
Make use of office-communication softwares like Slack to keep all your employees at one place during work hours. For video presentations, meetings or daily sales huddles, softwares like Microsoft Teams can be your best pick. Remember, effective communication is the secret ingredient for successful remote working – you definitely don’t want to cut corners in it.
5. Craft result-driven processes with the help of your team and motivate them to follow it
Processes essentially mean the procedures and resources that a sales rep has to familiarise himself with, before he starts selling. This includes materials on lead gen, conducting demos, following up on prospects, negotiating, closing deals and all other activities that take place before a lead is converted.
Since you are managing a remote sales team, whom you do not have the privilege of seeing and working with each day, documenting and designing implementation processes for them can go a long way.
77% of remote employees say they’re more productive when working from home, and if you fuel it with engaging documents, it will only help you more.
6. Monitor the non-sales activities of your team & account for them
Managing a team clearly outlines the fact that you have to keep a track of everything that is going in your organization. It means that you need to maintain a record of all the sales that your team is bringing in as well as the non-sales activities that are being carried out.
Sales Reps Spend Less Than 36% of Time Selling; which is why a tab on their activities will help you organise them without much micromanaging.
With a remote sales team, you cannot casually fling by their desks and enquire on the project or opportunities they are working on. You may be miles away from them and guiding them through the World Wide Web might not be the best idea you can use.
Implement software and tools that will help you track your team. Use tools to measure the time they spend on their work, without being distracted at the WFH environment, managerial tools to check activity and CRM tools to update their progress.
7. Brainstorm new virtual rules for your sales team and keep your team updated.
With the sudden change to remote selling, this time is a tester for the traditional sales practices that have been in use for long, and the new one that involves a load of digital know-how.
Your sales team is as new to remote selling as you are, and being the one in charge, it is your responsibility to help them adapt to the change.
Update your playbook with new ideas and techniques that your salespeople can use to pitch, keeping in mind the restrictions of virtual selling. Your experience in the field has brought you here, and it is definitely time to show that you know your job well!
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Remote selling is going to dominate the way sales take place – now and even after the pandemic. Thousands of firms now look for experienced salespeople who can work remotely to bring in consumers for their brand, and while you are starting at it, you should make the most of it.
The only glitch that remains in this practice is the lack of communication, and once you get that right, nothing can stop you. Implement your processes correctly, use the right tools, interact effectively, set your target and be there for your team.
Remote selling is tough, but equally rewarding if you know how to do it correctly!