There is nothing new about working remotely. Many freelancers and multinationals have been doing business remotely since the dawn of high-speed internet and "The Cloud."
Then 2020 came. Remote work, once another option, became the only solution to keep workers safe and companies afloat.
It's been two years since salespeople were forced to switch from face-to-face interactions to online video conferences. By now, we would have thought that sales reps have already adapted to a work-from-home arrangement.
Unfortunately for sales managers, they face an even bigger problem: demotivation.
How would you effectively manage your remote sales team? How would you motivate them to increase sales and keep the business operating?
What are the Benefits of Remote Selling?
The pandemic has completely changed the business landscape. It has also paved the way for remote selling.
Potential clients prefer online interactions, leaving sales reps little choice but to rely on phones and online platforms to meet quotas and ensure customer retention.
When done right, remote sales and selling works (as it should). It also provides a chock full of benefits for both the company and employees, including the following:
With everyone at home, overhead costs were significantly reduced. Companies no longer had to rent office spaces, pay for utilities, and everything necessary to keep the operations going.
Employees also do not have to commute or pay for fuel. In addition, the need to ask for a food budget for client meetings is thrown out the window.
With the new work environment, your sales team, which may now comprise talents scouted from across the globe, can establish new and creative selling techniques.
The freedom to develop something new and share best practices is empowering. Aside from increasing the business's revenue, giving your employees opportunities to contribute also improves social wellness and overall happiness.
A Bigger Reach
By utilizing modern technology, the world is your oyster. With boundaries gone, you can introduce your business to a broader audience and reach more prospects. This opens opportunities for your team and promotes the usual healthy competition among members.
How to Manage a Remote Sales Team
Is it even possible to manage a virtual sales team? Well, it’s certainly no walk in the park, but there are effective ways of doing it.
Establish a Trusting Relationship
Remember that salespeople are human too. Do not limit your interactions with them through emails and corporate meetings; check in with them once in a while. Set time for virtual get-togethers, team huddles, and "stand-ups".
Set Clear and Realistic Expectations
Sales managers must set clear expectations to provide their employees with a benchmark to maintain to encourage them to meet better performance levels.
The expectations have to be clear and realistic. Your remote sales team is most likely juggling personal life and work. Telling them what their daily tasks allow them to manage their time better.
Invest in Tools Promoting Organization
Your sales team has to be provided with the proper software and resources so they can do work whenever and wherever.
Having an all-in-one CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software prevents micromanaging. It makes communication and works more streamlined. With it, your employees can better organize tasks, share documents, monitor sales, communicate with other members, and more.
Adopting Asynchronous and Collaborative Communication
Remote work has allowed people to work on their own time. This is why communication and collaboration are significant issues remote businesses face. Enter asynchronous communication.
In asynchronous communication, real-time response is not expected. It is most helpful for managers with members from different time zones (or body clocks). And this method is an effective way of managing a remote sales team and promoting a seamless collaboration.
How the Experts Set Realistic Expectations
As mentioned earlier, you have to set realistic goals with your employees to encourage them and keep them focused. Therefore, you must be clear with the following:
- Both your and their availability and work hours;
- Meetings and deadlines; and
- The communication system and platforms to use.
Creating a Professional Selling Environment
As much as possible, remote employees should simulate a professional selling environment similar to what they were used to. This avoids distractions that would stray them from what they should be focusing on.
Replicate an office-like environment remotely by doing the following:
- Create a dedicated workspace at home by setting up an office. Choose a well-lit area where regular household activities cannot distract you. Your desk must be cleared of clutter, and all the files and equipment you need should be available should you need them.
- Invest in noise-canceling headphones or software, a stable internet connection, and high-quality webcams.
- Maintain company culture by keeping schedules of happy hours, team huddles, even random chit-chats.
Managing Clients and Accounts
Since physical meetings are limited, your sales team will find it even more challenging to build clients' trust and close deals. Assist them in managing clients and accounts by doing the following:
- Map Processes and Keep Them
Setting a structure and having standards allows your team to know what to do in the what-ifs.
- Streamline Communication
Use a single tool for communication, such as CRM software. This saves everyone's time (and sanity).
- Make Reports More Engaging
Adding visuals to reports attracts attention, keeps everything in perspective, and engages more people to go through the presented information.
Remote Selling Technology
What tools should sales departments invest in for remote selling?
Since many businesses have moved online, various tools and sales applications that make remote selling easier and management more manageable are already available.
One such example is CRM software, which was mentioned a couple of times earlier. Other great tools to invest in include video conferencing tools, cross-collaboration tools, business messaging apps, etc.
With very little to no social interaction and the sudden need to adapt to changes, it's understandable why remote salespeople feel stuck in a rut.
Managing a sales team remotely presents a lot of challenges. However, sales managers and leaders must remember the most important aspect to managing remote teams: constant and effective communication built on trust.
Mike Austin is a marketing and creative content specialist at Adrack.com and has been working in the digital marketing industry since 2009. As a conversion-driven marketer, he is passionate about helping businesses expand their online visibility and reach their goals.
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