3 smart tips for managing remote sales teams
The role of a sales rep has evolved to the point where they now have the flexibility to work from wherever, whenever. This flexibility allows companies to hire and attract remote talent that would have been unavailable to them in the past.
Studies show that remote work may even increase the productivity of your team. However, getting your team to collaborate in a remote environment can prove a challenge.
Prioritizing input and collaboration can be difficult with a team that naturally resorts to siloing their work. However, there are some strategies you can use as a remote sales team manager to make sure your sales reps participate in the collaborative process.
So, what do you need to do as a sales manager to make sure your remote sales team is successfully collaborating with you and the rest of the team?
Let’s dive deeper into each of the three points below.
1. Establish a culture of collaboration
Sales reps are characteristically competitive in nature, focusing their efforts on lead acquisition and individual target goals. Building a collaborative remote working environment can prove even harder to implement.
- Learn how to align sales with other departments (account managers, marketing, etc.). These departments can share relevant strategic goals and campaigns with your team while the sales team can provide vital customer feedback to other departments.
- Take advantage of the feedback your sales reps receive daily from their clients. Turn it into actionable intelligence by incorporating this feedback into strategies in other departments. Your sales reps are on the front lines with potential customers who offer valuable and unsolicited advice regularly.
- Listen to suggestions from your sales team. Demonstrate that you value their input and actually take the time to consider their ideas.
- Promote the new culture of collaboration by giving direct examples of benefits that could come from intra-team or cross-departmental collaboration. Sales reps may need to feel like their efforts will impact their bottom line in order to embrace a culture of collaboration wholeheartedly.
Sales teams in particular may be very reticent to adopting habits of collaboration.
Anything you can do to set collaboration as a habit instead of a burden to your sales team will help produce innovation, creativity, and workflow improvements.
2. Enable your team with the right tools
In order to successfully run a remote sales team, it is imperative that you utilize the right collaboration tools.
A cloud-based version of the following three tools are essential to a successful remote sales team:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software
- Project management tool
- Video conferencing tool
A remote sales team will need tools that are accessible on any and all of their reps’ own devices. At the epicenter of this will be their CRM. Encourage reps to maintain and update lead and prospect information daily in their CRM.
Integrated sales tools are essential so that teams can track their prospects easily and see how well their sales strategies are moving along in comparison to pre-planned goals:
- Project manager software creates greater visibility and ultimately promotes team collaboration. It allows sales teams to track their time and manage their tasks.
- Video conferencing is not just for your team to use with clients. It’s the collaboration tool that gives your remote sales team a sense of camaraderie that would be lacking without virtual meetings. Plus, as a remote sales team manager, it is beneficial to engage with your team face-to-face (at least virtually) as much as possible.
3. Reach out to build trust
Managing a remote team can become difficult if you do not stay on top of the issues facing the team on a day-to-day basis. That said, there is a balance to be struck, avoid micromanaging your team as this can build resentment and distrust.
- Show your sales team that you trust their discipline and judgement by giving them space. If you notice a drop-off in lead acquisition performance from one of your reps, then it might be appropriate to schedule a video call to check in and make sure they have everything they need to be successful.
- Make sure your team is having fun and feeling engaged with other team members, even if everyone is thousands of miles away. Host theme days where everyone shares their favorite food for Friday or have trivia competitions during meeting breaks. This will help with employee satisfaction, productivity, and team building, just as investing in team culture does in the office.
Following these three steps will allow you to establish a collaborative and productive remote sales team that will yield better results for everyone.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in March 2017 but updated for freshness in January 2022.